I finally picked up Singularity for the Xbox 360 yesterday, and like most of the other critics out there I’m digging it. Raven Software may have borrowed a few things from games like Bioshock, but sometimes that’s a good thing. I haven’t played the multiplayer portion yet, but so far the single player campaign is what I like to call, “Titties”! It’s just a flat out fun shooter that doesn’t make you want to rake out your eyes every 10 minutes, or repeatedly make you want to cry.
Singularity deals with some crazy sci-fi motifs. The story is based on an alternate history where the Commies find some super element called E99. They establish an island to mine the E99 and do testing. Believe it or not, the testing goes badly and all hell breaks loose. This is where you enter in except you’re back in 2010. Without giving away the story, there’s a whole lot of time jumping and reality skipping going on. It actually makes the story very engaging and I found myself reluctant to put the controller down, because I kept wanting to learn more. Similar to Bioshock most of the story is conveyed via audio logs, video logs, and notes scattered throughout the world. This really helps to keep you in the moment and set the mood. I found myself very engrossed, and at times I even jumped like a little school girl when something surprised me on-screen.
The story is a blast, but your arsenal and its impact on the enemy forces are what makes Singularity so much fun. The most intriguing weapon you get is the TMD, or Time Manipulation Device. You don’t get this right away, but once you do your enemy skewing options are bountiful. You can also change the environment with it by fixing old staircases, crates, ammo boxes, etc. Think of it as a portable time machine that can either reverse the effects of time, or accelerate it. The best part about it is that you can use it on humans! You can effectively kill a soldier by aging him to death!
The regular weapons are fun to use as well because they do some serious carnage to bad guys, and all of this destruction is animated beautifully. In my opinion, Singularity has the best looking head shot animations I’ve ever seen. You can blow off arms, heads, legs, and the AI that is losing these parts acts like a real person with the same trauma. I am just really impressed with the AI deaths in this game, and there are plenty of them. Most of the weapons are the usual types found in FPS games, but there is one in particular that stands out. The Seeker is a user controlled gun that lets you steer bullets into the bad guys, which instantly blows them to bits. It’s a very cool gun to use while trying to shoot people around a corner, or behind cover. With the TMD and your guns you definitely feel like a pimp, and their controls are spot on.
The overall look of the game is a little out dated for what we’ve been seeing these days. It feels like Singularity may be more of a 2008 looking game than 2010, but it still does the trick. I’m splitting hairs on a gnat’s ass with this gripe. Certain parts of the environment aren’t fully fleshed out with textures, and the good old invisible wall makes more appearances than you’d think. The invisible wall is code that devs put in a game to make sure you’re not wondering outside of the world they created, so you always stay on the path they intended you to be on. I just found that it was slightly over used in areas where it totally felt like I should be able to jump to, or walk to. The graphics won’t blow you away, but they’re not a deal breaker by any means.
When you tie the story, the weapons, and the look of Singularity together, you get a great gameplay experience. It’s not really creating anything new, but it reminds me of great things I enjoyed in other games. If I’d have to give you a reference to another game I’d say that Singularity is most like the original Bioshock. You get that same sense of wonder of the world around you, and the way the story unfolds compels you to play for longer than you probably should for a responsible member of society. I’m pumped thinking about getting back to it this evening! Looks like my other 2.5 open games may be sitting by the wayside for awhile. In the end, I give Singularity a solid 8/10, and that’s without even trying the multiplayer yet. For the low price of $39.99 Singularity is a safe buy! You’ll get your monies worth you cheap bastards! You’ve been reverted…
E.B. “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”