Singularity Review

If you think you’ve accidentally put BioShock in your console, don’t get up, it’s probably Singularity. In actual fact the games aren’t that similar, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that this is BioShock with angry Russians who have doomed us all. Yep, another FPS with an out there storyline that doesn’t really make all that much sense.

The general atmosphere is very BioShock, at least initially, with the addition of time travel. You don’t know what’s around the next corner, but it’s going to be some weird shit. Singularity begins with a spectacular plane crash on your way to investigate what in blazes is happening on the Russian island Katorga-12. All too soon you discover that the Russians have been working on technology using a powerful substance know as Element 99 to travel through time since the 1950s. From thereon in you get caught up in a time traveling adventure, moving between 2010 and the ‘50s, with all sorts of mutant creatures and angry soldiers after you. Most importantly, you acquire the Time Manipulation Device or TMD. With this fancy gismo attached to your left arm you can age or rewind objects and people through the use of E99.

The TMD, and time travel, in general, is what sets Singularity apart from similar games, specifically BioShock. At first, it’s an interesting concept and seems like an exciting way to play. However, over the course of the game, it turns out to be little more than a gimmick that’s only required to solve repetitive puzzles. Old crates and staircases can be restored to their former glory and enemies can be obliterated into a speck of dust, but most of the world doesn’t allow time manipulation. Manipulating objects by reversing or aging them 40 years is a great idea, but ruined by most of the world being incompatible. It would have been difficult to make the entire environment interactable, but only being able to manipulate a handful of objects hardly makes the TMD the all conquering “for communist Russia” device it’s marketed as. It’s a shame that developer Raven didn’t think outside the box or take any risks with level design. You’re still foiled by a slight ledge unless you can find a crate and most puzzles are no different to the same old stuff that continues to waste our time in shooters.

At its core, then, Singularity is a sci-fi FPS. You can carry two grossly overpowered weapons at anyone time and make them even more bad-ass by combining them with E99. Most enemies will go down with a perfect headshot, but if you’re slightly off they just won’t die. Considering most are mutated freaks this makes sense and forces you to use precision. Shooting an arm off a zombie doesn’t worry it too much, but it’s not a fan of a shotgun to the head. Beyond that, however, Singularity is best played using a mindless run and gun technique. Executing headshots is good marksmanship rather than a tactic per se, leaving you with little else to think about while running along. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the weapon power-ups and general gunplay are quite fun.

The Seeker is by far the best weapon, as it allows you to freeze enemies in place and steer a bullet straight into their heads. It’s immensely frustrating that you have to drop it to change weapons, but if that wasn’t the case you would have been too overpowered. The TMD can be used in combat to age enemies or slow down their movements and deliver a comprehensive blast. For reasons unknown to man, the latter replaces your melee attack which you have for all of about eight minutes. Overlooking the fact that it’s criminal not to have a melee option, why even bother giving it to you if you literally only have it for a handful of minutes?

The array of enemies is very good, ranging from human commandos to invisible mutants to blind zombies and big-ass spiders. Not knowing exactly what you’ll come up against around the next corner is one of Singularity’s greatest strengths. Adrenaline-pumping music and a room full of ammo is never a good sign of what’s to come and develops a tense atmosphere, albeit not quite at the level it should have been. Singularity has a lot of great ideas that aren’t developed, which is a shame. However, that being the case, it remembers that we’re happy playing FPSs if we get to shoot monsters with big guns.

Singularity was always going to struggle when it’s put up against the likes of BioShock and Fallout 3. It just doesn’t quite have the same eery feel about it. It’s interesting to see the same level 45 years apart, but the design just isn’t quite right. Criticism over the presentation might seem harsh at first, but it’s a very competitive genre and unless it’s spot-on the player can’t help but feel let down. The character models are decent, including both humans and monsters, but not spectacular.

The narrative and storytelling are in the same boat. It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just overshadowed by its competitors. I never really understood the audio recordings in BioShock, but they’re even worse in Singularity. I get that it’s an interesting way to hear the backstory for players that are interested, but who leaves giant tape recorders all over the place playing their personal diaries? Maybe it’s nitpicking, but there are far too many and in the end it comes off as a cheap way to fill-in the gaps.

The 12-player online offers two different modes. The first is a straight forward deathmatch that pits humans against monsters. The second is a point-based objective game where two teams fight for control over locations. Both modes are somewhat similar and ensure a chaotic mess due to both classes being so powerful. It’s a hectic battlefield but, as far as online multiplayer goes, fairly basic.sing or aging them 40 years is a great idea, but ruined by most of the world being incompatible. It would have been difficult to make the entire environment interactable, but only being able to manipulate a handful of objects hardly makes the TMD the all conquering “for communist Russia” device it’s marketed as. It’s a shame that developer Raven didn’t think outside the box or take any risks with level design. You’re still foiled by a slight ledge unless you can find a crate and most puzzles are no different to the same old stuff that continues to waste our time in shooters.

At its core, then, Singularity is a sci-fi FPS. You can carry two grossly overpowered weapons at anyone time and make them even more bad-ass by combining them with E99. Most enemies will go down with a perfect headshot, but if you’re slightly off they just won’t die. Considering most are mutated freaks this makes sense and forces you to use precision. Shooting an arm off a zombie doesn’t worry it too much, but it’s not a fan of a shotgun to the head. Beyond that, however, Singularity is best played using a mindless run and gun technique. Executing headshots is good marksmanship rather than a tactic per se, leaving you with little else to think about while running along. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the weapon power-ups and general gunplay are quite fun.

The Seeker is by far the best weapon, as it allows you to freeze enemies in place and steer a bullet straight into their heads. It’s immensely frustrating that you have to drop it to change weapons, but if that wasn’t the case you would have been too overpowered. The TMD can be used in combat to age enemies or slow down their movements and deliver a comprehensive blast. For reasons unknown to man, the latter replaces your melee attack which you have for all of about eight minutes. Overlooking the fact that it’s criminal not to have a melee option, why even bother giving it to you if you literally only have it for a handful of minutes?

The array of enemies is very good, ranging from human commandos to invisible mutants to blind zombies and big-ass spiders. Not knowing exactly what you’ll come up against around the next corner is one of Singularity’s greatest strengths. Adrenaline-pumping music and a room full of ammo is never a good sign of what’s to come and develops a tense atmosphere, albeit not quite at the level it should have been. Singularity has a lot of great ideas that aren’t developed, which is a shame. However, that being the case, it remembers that we’re happy playing FPSs if we get to shoot monsters with big guns.

Singularity was always going to struggle when it’s put up against the likes of BioShock and Fallout 3. It just doesn’t quite have the same eery feel about it. It’s interesting to see the same level 45 years apart, but the design just isn’t quite right. Criticism over the presentation might seem harsh at first, but it’s a very competitive genre and unless it’s spot-on the player can’t help but feel let down. The character models are decent, including both humans and monsters, but not spectacular.

The narrative and storytelling are in the same boat. It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just overshadowed by its competitors. I never really understood the audio recordings in BioShock, but they’re even worse in Singularity. I get that it’s an interesting way to hear the backstory for players that are interested, but who leaves giant tape recorders all over the place playing their personal diaries? Maybe it’s nitpicking, but there are far too many and in the end, it comes off as a cheap way to fill-in the gaps.

The 12-player online offers two different modes. The first is a straight forward deathmatch that pits humans against monsters. The second is a point-based objective game where two teams fight for control over locations. Both modes are somewhat similar and ensure a chaotic mess due to both classes being so powerful. It’s a hectic battlefield but, as far as online multiplayer goes, fairly basic.