In a video game market filled with shooters of all sorts, it’s safe to say that it takes some serious kahunas to introduce a new IP into the fold and while courage is definitely needed, let’s not forget about good old-fashioned creativity sprinkled with many other gaming elements that have worked in the past.
Introducing Singularity, a fresh new shooter from developer Raven Software, starring Captain Nathaniel Renko, an American black ops soldier who crash lands on an island research base known as Katorga-12 that has been mysteriously abandoned since the 1950’s. As Captain Nathaniel Renko you investigate this abandoned island where you immediately begins to have flashbacks that literally manifest right before your eyes which all begins to make since as you unfold all the mysteries of the island. Forced to battle your way through hostile territories of the island, Captain Renko stumbles across the TMD (Time Manipulation Device) – a time altering weapon created over 50 years ago which is powered by a rare element only found on Katorga-12 known as E99.
There is no other word to describe the TMD other than COOL. As you upgrade the TMD or the gradually enhanced hand of God I like to call it you almost feel god-like and unstoppable as there are some amazing set pieces that shows off the power of the TMD once it’s powered correctly. Stretching out your hand to reassemble a massive cruise-liner or 50 year old mammoth bridge does send chills down your spine. Developer Raven Software also places some standard weaponry at your disposal. From the powerful hand-gun and fully auto-assault rifle to the bulls eye sniper-rifle and shotgun all theses weapons feel and sound authentic despite maybe needing more time in the concept department. Of course one of my favorite weapons would have to be the gatling gun which definitely is a cure all option when all else fails.
Nevertheless, these weapons are just the tip of the iceberg as the Russian research teams of the 1950’s have also created some E99 powered weaponry that comes in handy as the playing field gets rather meaty the deeper you investigate the island. Among the many E99 powered weapons, one weapon in particular is known as the ‘Seeker’. Once you fire off a round from the Seeker you are immediately reminded of the amazing game from Ninja Theory, Heavenly Sword. If you remember the bow & arrow scene in Heavenly Sword where you were given control of each arrow as you protected your wounded father. Basically as each arrow took flight, you could manipulate the direction of the arrow in order to take out the enemies. Singularity on the other hand gives the player even more control of each bullet fired from the Seeker which does make the experience easier to manipulate and less dramatic but effective.
Before the greed of power, obsession and chaos plagued the island of Katorga-12, Russia placed families, schools, teachers, doctors and the best Russian scientific minds on the island to investigate and learn the true potential of the E99 mineral only found on the island. Throughout the game you come across audio recordings that give hints into the way things once were and the excitement the people felt being apart of this historic time in Russian history, unfortunately the recordings go from talks of excitement to sounds of horror as whole families are confronted with the terror of being mutually butchered and mutated over time.
The level designs mixed with the art direction and the horrific sign of death and mutilation throughout the campaign give off a feeling of sorrow and survival and while Singularity does not break new ground in the graphics department it does get it’s message across convincingly. Levels are riddled with decay and carnage, building are old and dilapidated, signs of family life are sprinkled throughout with remains of whole families littered on the floor. Further into the game you find the remaining survivors who have become mutated beast feeding on the remains of the dead. Katorga-12 has become hell on earth.
While Singularity is an original IP, it does take from the influences of the past and make them their own. If you’ve played Singularity by now you have probably said it feels like you’ve been here before only you remember being surrounded by oceans of water in a deep sea diver outfit equipped with a drill ala Bioshock or some might say the TMD feels a lot like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2 only on steroids. With other game similarities under the hood, Singularity feels unique and new while being driven by an interesting story and plot.
As the game takes on new form Captain Renko saves the life of acclaimed Russian scientist Dr. Barisov who is from the 1950’s who becomes your game navigator instructing you to go on some wild goose chases powering up reactors and power grids in order to ultimately power the E99 bomb in order to save the world.
Overall Singularity is a lot fun giving players the ability to manipulate objects, travel through time portals in order to gain access to new levels and master the god-like powers of the TMD, the game is a safe bet for sci-fi shooter horror fans looking for a diamond in the rough.
With three alternate endings and a decent multiplayer option Singularity should not be missed.
PLATFORMS: PS3, Xbox 360