Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Singularity | Review

You know, we just received our review copy from Activision on their latest FPS, Singularity, and I admit, I had little to no knowledge going in on what to expect.  Developed by Raven Software, (latest Wolfenstein, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, etc), I did have a high expectation of a solid game with plenty of polish.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, I'm going to come out and say, this is one of the greatest games of the year that most will never even play.
It's a shame really, that there hasn't been any real marketing put behind this game, and I'm not sure where the blame falls there, but that's why it's our jobs to let you know which games to pick up.  So continue reading for the full review, but I understand if you want to go out and pick it up first.
Welcome back, Singularity is a FPS, but one with a time-manipulation element that sets it apart from the growing list of FPS available today.  Set on a fictional island, Katorga-12, off the cost of Russia, in current times.  Back in the 50's, a newly element (E-99) was disovered on this island, which posses powers, that when harnessed, give the ability of manipulating time.  What starts as a fairly standard opening, quickly changes when you arrive on the island after an EMP goes off, downing your helicopter and separating you from your crew.  Shortly after you try to make your way back to your partner, you are swept up in a time-wave that sends you back to when the island was populated with Russian scientists.  You're in a burning building, and the events that unfold will alter the very timeline of history as we know it.  After you phase out of this event, things already look a little different than when you first arrived, setting the stage for a pretty fantastic sci-fi story.  Add in a dash of horror, and you have one of the best games that no one knows about.
Gameplay consists of plenty of firefights, but soon you'll gain access to the TMD (Time Manipulation Device) which has been miniaturized, and now rests on your left hand, a'la the Nintendo Power Glove from that '80's movie, The Wizard.  This device allows you to revert objects back in time, or to progress them forward.  A neat concept that opens up the way for some light puzzle-elements into the game.  Oh, you can also use it to literally turn enemies to dust, if that's your thing.  As you progress, you find TMD blueprints and other weapon upgrades that allow you to "spend" your E-99 tech on much needed enhancements and abilities.  This system borrows heavily from Dead Space, in that you have to earn Equipment Upgrade Tech and then find a Weapons Locker to upgrade your various available weapons.  By the time you reach the end of the game, you're arsenal and powers are so strong that you literally feel unstop able, and the game does an excellent job of conveying that feeling of power.  I imagine this is what it'd be like to have enough midi-cloreans to call upon the Force.
Graphics and presentation are pretty top notch here.  Utilizing the now-infamous Unreal Engine, Raven has designed a quality game, that uses the full color palette, where most games that use the Unreal tech, look brown, and grays, Singularity really takes a more colorful approach and in my opinion, the game looks sharp. 

The only negative that I'd have to point out, is the single-player game isn't terribly long, the average FPS gamer will get through it in about 8-10 hours, but the story may even benefit from the restricted play time.  Also, the game is a little linear, and once you come to the conclusion (of which you'll have three choices), you'll likely not play it again, as the twists are most impactful upon first play-through.  Stick around for the after-credits video as well for a little surprise, and hope that there's a sequel on the way.

Singularity is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

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