It’s one of those inevitable incidents, like the next rainstorm or power-outage, and it’s something we’ve just come to accept as part of gaming culture: the next FPS game. Since the phenomenon was set in motion roughly 15 years ago by Doom, we’ve had to endure FPS releases almost on a monthly basis.
Thankfully, most developers these days realise that they need something more than bleeding edge graphics and surround sound, and most FPS games include a hook of some sort to set them apart from the rest. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a really terrible one, and the whole practice has become something akin to visiting a fancy ice cream store – you simply choose your flavour. Activision’s recent shooter, Singularity, is a case-in-point.
In Singularity, players take on the role of an Allied Forces soldier, Renko, parachuting into a secret, decommissioned Russian weapons lab to investigate some strange occurrences in the region. As you’ve probably guessed, things go horribly pear-shaped right from the start, and Renko quickly finds himself among a mere handful of survivors fighting their way to a radio tower for emergency extraction. The problem is that island is overrun by strange creatures and the very fabric of reality itself seems to be strangely malleable.
If you judge Singularity by the first hour or so of gameplay, you might chalk it up as completely unremarkable or nothing special, another pretty shooter – and it is pretty – with rudimentary gameplay. But if you stick it out just a bit longer and acquire the Time Manipulation Device, the game suddenly takes on a new, almost Half-Life-like charm. This tool is the very crux of the gameplay, allowing the player to fast-forward or rewind time for objects imbued with a newly-discovered element known as E-99 – which is a clever way of limiting the player to only being able to age certain items. For example, if the player encounters a broken stairway, they can rewind time to a point when it was in a good state of repair, then age it back afterwards so that enemies can’t follow. This tool also has the capabilities of Half-Life’s gravity gun, for all kinds of physics-related puzzles. It can also double as a weapon by aging enemies – which is incredibly good fun as you watch them turn to skeletons and crumble into dust.
There is also a plethora of interesting weapons to use, all of which can be upgraded with the E-99 element to improve damage, reload speed and the like. Certain weapons also have special functions, like time-slow for sniper rifles, and the seeker’s ability to give players control over its projectile in mid-flight a-la Heavenly Sword. Players can also beef up their own, innate abilities by investing in their TMD unit to increase their health, movement capabilities, and so on. Once you’re done with that, there are a few interesting multiplayer modes you may or may not want to try.
At the end of the day, I’d recommend this shooter like I’d recommend any other. It looks good and plays well, and if it sounds like your flavour, you should probably check it out when the hankering strikes.