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Singularity takes place on a fictional Russian island called Katorga-12, the sight of radical tests of a never before seen element referred to as E99. From the game’s opening, it is obvious that the new element has caused a great amount of destruction and suffering for the residents of the island and it’s your job to find out how to contain the situation before it spills over the globe.
The game is over-the-top in terms of story and presentation with a main antagonist that looks like a Russian M. Bison complete with bear fur cape and scarred face. The pacing never slows down long enough to add any subtly or depth to the characters or build an intriguing narrative. You never feel connected to the supporting cast or the world around despite witnessing some tragedies first-hand. The lack of detail makes the game feel hollow. The setting jumps back and forth through alternate realities stemming from the first experiments involving E99 during the fifties. You are responsible for dramatically changing the present because you helped or killed significant people, but like many time-bending games, the alternate realities and potential gameplay variables are never fully realized or implemented in an interesting way. It is used in Singularity as an excuse to fight mutant Russians and little else.
Combat is set to aim assist by default, but disabling aim assist reveals a very accurate shooter. The guns are what you would find in a standard FPS except they are tweaked to take advantage of upgrades including better reload speed, clip size, and damage as well as some fourth-dimensional craziness like slow motion sniping and controlling your bullet’s trajectory well after it has left you gun. Shooting is only half your repertoire, however, with the introduction of the TMD, a time-warping glove that can decay soldiers, grab items from afar and revert rubble back to a pristine form. The glove is used mostly to solve rudimentary puzzles and you can only age a small number of objects throughout the game. Ageing crates gets old fast and that makes up roughly ninety percent of the puzzles. Effectively blending the TMD with your weapons is the key to fighting off the bizarre lineup of creatures that stalk Katorga-12. Every enemy type has a specific weakness and once you learn the basic pattern, the game becomes lethargic but enjoyable.
You can upgrade the TMD by finding and developing perks which make your time powers stronger. This makes for an awkward learning curve in which the game is more difficult initially but gradually becomes easier with each upgrade causing a snowball effect. Eventually, you become over-powered which makes for an underwhelming third act. Beyond the single player campaign lies multiplayer, which pits soldiers against monsters similar to the Left 4 Dead games. You can choose a job class for your soldier which provides special functions, while the monsters use their own set of special skills. This dynamic works well, but at the time of writing this review, finding players online is easier said than done and that low number of players dwindles with the approach of games like Killzone 3 and Halo:Reach.
The visual look is hard to describe; the bright, candy-like colors and simplistic human characters makes the game look cartoonish at times despite
attempts at creating a gritty, dystopian universe. The game looks great when walls are being reverted from debris and showing off the other uses for the TMD, but the uneven rendering quality and lackluster artistic design prevent Singularity from standing out from other first-person shooters. The sound design is mostly favorable with good voice acting and crisp sound effects. It’s understandable that the developers probably could not afford to offer Russian voice talent
for the entire game—Russian is only heard during firefights. But it would have contributed to the atmosphere drastically. There is something wrong about watching Russian propaganda films that demonize the U.S.A. in English.
Singularity draws many comparisons to Bioshock due to its atmosphere and gameplay, what sets the two games apart for miles is Singularity’s lack of originality. The game is an average shooter that offers some enjoyment, but is bogged down by bland characters, repetitive mechanics and a potentially thoughtful premise that goes nowhere. Shooter fans with nothing on their plates may want to check the game out for themselves, but most people will skip this title and not miss much at all.