First Person Sci-Fi Action Title Weaponises Time To Fight a World Altering Conspiracy
Activision and Raven’s time travelling first person shooter is a ripping good yarn!
Thrust onto the mysterious Russian island base of Katorga-12, filled with Cold War secrets that threaten time itself, players must fight their way through an ever-shifting environment, haunted by time-ravaged creatures and mysteries. Armed with an arsenal of high-powered weapons and the Time Manipulation Device, players must contend with sudden time waves that hurl them back and forth between 1955 and the present day. In addition to a story-driven narrative, SINGULARITY offers players a unique multi-player experience, where Russian Special Forces with individual powers take on a team of creatures from another time including the powerful Radion, the gravity-defying Phase Tick and the time-altering Zek.
This is how Activision introduced Singularity to an expectant public following the initial announcement that the title was in development. We still do not understand why it did not receive the huge advertising support that we know that Activision has access too? But in a way it kind of add’s to the game’s ‘mystique’ as the title has grown into an instant underground classic if you will, and has developed an almost cult like following with its online and offline players.
The backdrop to the title is a firm favourite with gamers the World over, and a winner in most science fiction loving cyber geeks hearts. (that would be us too). That backdrop is ‘Time Travel.’ So come on now admit it, who hasn’t, at one time or another, wished that they had that awesome little TMD, or ‘Time Manipulation Device’ to give it its full name, that the main character Renko has strapped to his wrist? Imagine the fun to be had if you could pop in and out of time with reckless abandon? The possibilities are endless. One thing that we are curious of though is why it seems that all Time Plots revolve around 1955? I was half expecting to see a skateboarding Marty ‘Calvin Klein’ McFly hanging onto the back of one of the Zek’s that prowl the time shift? Alas, this was not to be the case as I wished I could have aged the annoying weasel packed him in a ammo case and wrote ‘Hip to be Square?‘ on the cube shaped packaging crate.
The game begins with you aboard a US Navy helicopter playing the lead role of Nathan Renko, a US Navy Pilot who, along with his team, are sent in to investigate the mysterious goings on that have been hidden behind the wall of a conspiracy theory on the once secret Russian test facility based on the island of Katorga 12. The island is home not only to secrets that threaten to wipe out the existence of life as we know it through the errors os meddling scientists back in the 1950’s, but more immediate dangers such as the aforementioned Zek. These hideous creatures are the vile incarnations of what were once the islands inhabitants and research teams after being manipulated and transformed by the results of the scientists experimentation with the Top Secret ‘E-99 Project.’ This project dates back to the 50’s and is when it all went a little bit squiffy. Manipulating time rarely does go smoothly, have these people never been to the movies?
So after a catastrophe in the cockpit our hero finds himself alone on the island with nothing more than his trusty knife to defend himself,. Luckily another survivor’s call for assistance on his radio gives you your starting objective and your off. This is where your game begins. After following the usual format of navigating through he opening tutorial level in which you learn all the necessary skills that you will need along the way. All that is apart from the use of the TMD which you have not yet acquired. You head off in pursuit of the other crash survivor in an attempt to locate the means with which you will both safely be plucked from the nightmarish location. So take to your heels quickly people as Katorga-12 is not the nicest place to spend an afternoon in the sun.
The imagery is Activision all over. Nice visuals using the over the shoulder FPS position which makes for the best camera position in our opinion. Renders are solid and though you will see elements of other titles in the gameplay of Singularity with every title from Bioshock to the more obvious selections of Half Life 2 and Timeshift in there, as ever Activision give their developers Raven enough scope and leeway with which to make the game have enough of its own individual features and qualities that make it the resounding success story that it most definitely is.
As you become involved in the storyline you will discover that along the way that things are, as usual, never quite what they first appear to be, and that although you discover that you have possible allies in a professor Barislov and a beautiful young female agent named Kathryn, whose own motives for her involvement are never fully explained and leave the situation open for a sequel, possibly even a prequel. That is if Raven make another title?
The Time Manipulation Device that we mentioned earlier and in which is the basis of the game, is so much more than is first offered as it becomes apparent throughout the upgrading of the device that not only can it transport you back and forth between the alternate dimensions of 1955 and present day Russia, but it can also help you overcome all manner of puzzles, obstacles and enemies as you first turn the unit from Time Travel to zapping the beejabbers out of Zek‘s and then also rebuilding or destroying the environment as you see fit to assist you on your progress through the game. Quite simply put, it is the do-it-all Swiss Army TMD that you have, and by the end of the game, if you have played it on the hard setting, you will be grateful that it is so.
The Artificial Intelligence in Singularity is just pleasantly challenging depending on which enemy it is that you are facing? So if you are assuming because of another review that the AI is easy and that you can more or less run and gun your way through the title from beginning to end, then think again, as you have been misinformed. When facing some of the enemies you may find that the Zek ar brutish, but ultimately defeated by using more of a tactical approach as after all, they are mindless monsters. The same can be said of most of the infected opponents with the exception maybe of the ‘blind’ enemies who will pound your bones to ash if they get a hint of a sound from you? So whereas the monsters my be mindless? They are still, nevertheless, dangerous and a force to be reckoned with. The problem you will have is the soldiers who will behave as Russian soldiers would, and try to charge you down as another tries to outflank you whilst a sniper is trying to pop your melon between the eyes. Artificial it may be, but there is an intelligence there, you have been warned.
Though solid and very good fun, the campaign is not the only thing on offer here with Singularity as there is a devoted band of loyal followers online who will quite happily take advantage of your naivety and give you the biggest T-Bagging of your life if your combat skills are anything less than razor-sharp as online, the game plays very similar to its Activision stablemate, Call of Duty. There are always gamers online so enjoyment of the multiplayer is a viable option for the player and we are pleased to say that we found the twin modes of Extermination and also Creatures Versus Soldiers to be entertaining enough that we have returned to the title to meet up with friends online long after the review has been written and published. Extermination can be best compared to the Domination type game, maybe with a hint of Headquarters thrown in for good measure? Creatures Versus Soldiers is your class based match which sees each team having a few characters to choose from in their respective categories. Soldiers have the TMD at their disposal. Once you have chosen your primary weapon and sidearm combo you will be able to pick a perk. These give you an edge and some for offensive choice while others serve the more defensive based options. Let me explain, you can choose the ability to heal or you could decide instead that you would rather have the ability to teleport. The creatures have their perks as well, but their arsenal is somewhat different. Only a few can conjure up explosive barrels to throw at opponents, while the smaller creatures, Ticks, can latch on to enemies and posses them. It is extremely challenging to play as a Tick and to successfully possess a soldier and turn him on his teammates, but is something that is well worth the effort that you have to put in to the action to get the desired effect.
Which brings us neatly to the end of our review of Singularity and we have to say that whilst there have been one or two titles this year that have been somewhat on the ‘iffy‘ side that Singularity is not one of them. In fact it seems that we have blessed with getting review codes for all decent titles from the developers so far and this is just a continuation of our good fortune at being sent the review code for what is a really great romp through the space-time continuum. The game plays as well as any of the other Time based shooters out there, and whilst some would argue that it is not enough to merely be on a par level with successful previous titles, we would argue the case that Singularity plays as well as some and better, in fact, than others. There is still a long way to go before the year is out and you have yet to see any number of titles displayed before your spinning eyes, what we will say is this. You could do a lot worse, and probably will again if you overlook this title in favour of something different.
Graphics: Typically solid and well-rounded affair from Raven, where they do their usual thing of letting the story and the gameplay do the talking. That being said, Singularity feels silky and the imagery sleek and smooth with the familiar look of an Activision title. 7
Gameplay: An absolutely corking single player campaign that is somewhat undone by the real lack of in-depth multiplayer that, even though has two cracking modes is just not enough in todays online world of gaming. However the saving grace of a truly sizzling single player experience deem this game worthy of an 8
RePlay Value: With a somewhat limited online multiplayer but with the saving grace of a belting single player campaign you may expect that I’ll offer this the same score as the gameplay? But you are wrong. Once played the game is done, and even the great campaign may not, I fear, save it forever? 7
Presentation: All said and done we think that if a bit more advertising had been thrown Singularity‘s way then it would be a bigger hit than even the publishers expected. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, which incidentally, is a lot like Singularity. 8