Singularity | Review (Looking Back)
Fantastic combiation of time manipluation and excellent shooting makes Singularity a hit.
Being a super geek, both in relation to history and science fiction, “Singularity” stood out to me as a game I absolutely had to play. Promising an intriguing story line and comprehensive use of time travel within the story and bringing aspects of it to combat drew me in completely. Luckily, this is executed excellently. The story is fantastic with twists and turns that never let you become complaisant, with the same being said for the technology used throughout the game.
The story begins on an island named Katorga-12, where Russian experiments took place during the Cold War using Element 99 (E99). In 1955, attempts to create a “Singularity” resulted in a massive incident which was then covered up by the Russian Government. Fast forward to 2010, Renko (you) must travel to the island when a US spy satellite has been affected by a surge that originated somewhere on Katorga-12. However. on the journey to start the mission, a second surge erupts and the helicopter transporting Renko crashes and you get transported back to 1955. Renko has no other option but to search the island and try to discover what is causing the massive power surges, why these surges transport you through time to 1955 and back to the present day at seemingly random intervals, all the while fighting your way through hordes of soldiers and creatures that have developed or mutated beyond recognition due to the radiation.
Introducing the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) which allows you to change certain objects around you from old to new or vice-versa. An example of how this helps you move around and progress is by transforming a flight of stairs that has been completely broken, using the TMD to change the stairs back to how they were when new, so you are able to go places where others cannot. As mentioned earlier, using this function can also help you in combat situations. On humans, it will kill them instantly as the TMD will age them in an instant, or Renko can convert the Spetsnaz soldier to the mutant enemies called “Reverts” using the TMD. Whilst the creatures affected by the radiation it will have varying affects depending on which creature you are fighting. For example, when fighting Reverts, using the TMD on them will cause them to glow brightly before they explode and can potentially cause massive damage if you get too close when they trigger. The TMD can also be used for moving objects or firing said objects at enemies, creating a “Deadlock” bubble which stops time completely for a short while and many other things. Utilising a feature such as the TMD could have gone horribly wrong, however, by introducing upgrades and new abilities through the progression of the game keeps the player learning and developing new tactics for battles and puzzle solving.
Weapons range from the usual pistol and machine gun to the more exciting variety of heavy artillery, most of which have special functions of their own. Such as the Seeker Rifle which is able to slow down the bullet and control exactly where it goes, being able to navigate around obstacles, or the RLS-7, a Rocket launcher which has two modes of fire – guided, which follows similar controls to the Seeker Rifle, and unguided, where rockets will travel straight and explode on impact. Pretty neat stuff! Both weapons and the TMD can be upgraded throughout the game, as well as being able to purchase new ones by collecting either E99 or Weapon Upgrade points. New abilities range from being able to carry more health packs and regenerating health from each kill to taking less damage from projectiles and melee attacks.
Enemies can be your bog standard Spetsnaz soldier, all the way through to a variation of monsters created from the radiation produced by the Singularity, such as teleporters who can only be hurt whilst in your dimension with their main tactic being to constantly flit between dimensions - to creatures so badly deformed they cannot see at all in front of them and so are very sensitive to sound, depending on it during combat, but when they attack, do devastating amounts of damage.
Bringing in new enemies as the game progresses as well as new TMD abilities and weapons forces you to constantly adapt your strategy and create new techniques for every situation. In comparison to other similar games, this is very refreshing and makes Singularity incredibly engaging. With other similar titles, they may introduce all the functions and different types of enemies very early on and just throw different numbers of enemies at you for the rest of the game, forcing you to blindly rinse and repeat tactics. This is probably the game’s strongest point as the player never gets bored or the chance to relax.
Obviously looks are important, it’s not the most visually detailed game out on the market today, but it does look damn good for a 720p resolution. The environments are engulfing as you really do feel drawn into the universe of Singularity. The sound effects and music are good, but not great; setting the mood with music seemed very well done, but some creatures sounds and the phrases said by the soldiers are a bit repetitive and just needed that extra oomph to make this less of a standout feature of the game that stands out for the wrong reasons.
With three different endings to the game, the replay value should be moderate, however, as the only factor that changes the endings is right at the end, by saving before this pivotal moment, you can reload your save multiple times, play the ending differently and watch all three endings, one after another. To improve upon this, “Singularity” would have done better to incorporate factoring choices at a number of moments throughout the story providing a much better replay value.
All in all this is a fantastic game and has something in it for everybody, a great story, a lot of killing, puzzles, mutant creatures, time travel, gore, fear, engaging battles and much more. The only downfall is how short this game is, as it would be easy to complete this game in under 15 hours, which is a real shame because it is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in a long time and is fantastic value for money, specially considering it was released a few years ago so can be picked up pretty cheaply now.
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3