The video game Singularity was a big hit with Alex
Raven Software's Singularity has a rather unique catch. The player uses the Time-Manipulation Device as a major tool in gameplay. However, this device is not the sole focus of gameplay, which is varied and fun even before finding the Time-Manipulation Device. Singularity combines the best elements of various excellent games – such as Half-Life 2, Bioshock, and Fallout 3 – into a coherent and very satisfying first-person experience. The many different aspects of the gameplay are difficult to explain in depth without giving away the plot, but are worth discussing.
At the beginning of the game, the player is on a routine patrol around the fictional Russian island of Katorga-12. The U.S. Military's interest in this location stems from its concentration of the mysterious “Element-99”. The player loses contact with his partner and tries to find him near a distant radio tower. While heading to the radio tower, there's adequate opportunity to explore the area and discover the backstory of Katorga-12. Exploring the game will help you learn more about the history of the island and help you through the game, but a player could also move through the game in a straight line if they wished.
Going through the game, the player will experience many surprising moments. Before finding the Time-Manipulation Device, the player finds some basic weapons and meets several new characters. Most of these characters have deep and well-written motivations, with the exception of the main villain, who acts like a generic Evil Soviet Man. This part of the backstory, unfortunately, feels like it was pulled from an old action movie. Russian soldiers are unendingly hostile, only agreeing to short truces when working with the players to fight monsters. The monsters form the game's third faction, and they have an interesting variety. The rogue's gallery has many unique monsters, many of them disturbing and downright frightening.
When you receive the TMD, the game gets even better. There are many puzzles using the TMD, and they add good variety to the game's gunplay. Later in the game, the puzzles are fraught with tension – navigating physics puzzles in the presence of sleeping monsters, or finding a way to hold a door open while suffocating in a room full of poison gas. The TMD is continually upgraded through the game, providing new ways to solve problems.
The gunplay of the game is also a great deal of fun. Raven Software also developed 2009's Wolfenstein, a game noted for its refined gunfights. Aesthetically, firing guns in Singularity is great. Enemies respond to attacks and move smoothly, various weapons have their uses in different situations, and my personal favourite weapon lets you fly a bullet like a guided missile. The TMD is also a handy weapon, as it can be used to age soldiers into dust, or grab objects and launch them at your foes.
The game's online multiplayer feels like it was tacked on to the rest of the experience, but it's still a great deal of fun. Both gameplay modes are fundamentally similar: players take turns on the team of either monsters or soldiers, and fight to the death against the other side. Extermination mode is more strategic, as both teams must coordinate their attacks to be successful. In Soldiers vs. Creatures mode, a small group of soldiers can adequately defend itself, and the matches are full of frantic battles. Either gameplay mode is a good addition after you've completed the singleplayer campaign, which is the central attraction of Singularity.
Singularity may have a rather generic villain, but the gameplay itself is well-done. By taking old elements from popular games, and adding the well-made TMD, Raven Software has created a gem. Singularity's singleplayer mode is worth playing repeatedly, and the multiplayer is a great addition. Singularity is the first game I have granted a 10/10 review score.
• Original Time-Manipulation Device gameplay
• Intriguing and convoluted plot
• Refined and fun gameplay
• Various easter eggs to be found
• Deep, sympathetic characters
• Solid online multiplayer
• Best elements of various games combined into one
• Corny backstory
• Occasional glitches in joining multiplayer matches
• Derivative gameplay, if you view it as a flaw