Halloween Review: Singularity

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Have you heard of a little game known as Bioshock? So far I’ve played the first two and they’re great, spooky atmosphere, with great first-person action and a lot of unique powers. So of course you’d want to be inspired by it I guess and add your own unique flavour to it…only for that “thing” to sell 400,000 copies and get constantly criticised for ripping-off Bioshock…in all honesty though, it kind of does to an extent. Singularity, developed by Raven Software and published by Activision and was released in 2010.

So from what I know from the game, back in the Cold War where America was at a winning post, Russian dictator Joseph Stalin assigns his scientists to research and experiment on Atomic Power since America already had knowledge of this. The scientists then discover an island called Katorga-12 where they discover a new element called E99, of course they think this new element can make Russian lives better and think they can do amazing things with it, which it can. But one day, in 1950, disaster strikes known as the Singularity occurs in Katorga-12. After the disaster, the government do what they always do…hide any evidence of the island’s existence.

Cut to 2010 and a sudden electromagnetic surge from Katorga-12 destroys an American spy satellite so a military black ops team is sent to the island to investigate the island, but a second surge causes their helicopter to crash. Captain Nathaniel Renko, one of the two survivors, enters the abandoned scientific complex and somehow gets exposed to an energy wave, and ends up in 1955. In this time, he rescues a scientist and all’s well. But it’s not until he goes back to 2010 where the island looks completely different with monsters and all sorts of mutated beings. The story is pretty good but it has more holes in it than a Jamaican highway. So it’s another game with an alternative history where Russians would try anything to win the Cold War. But the biggest element is time travel and…you really need to be careful and explain how your time travel works, in fact, I had to read a plot summary to understand the time travel and it’s still kind of confusing, and the result of having a time travel story this confusing, it’s going to have many plot holes and many parts of the story wouldn’t make sense. It’s really important to have your time travel story make sense; Doctor Who understood this, Back to the Future understood this, Star Trek understood this, Futurama knew it like the back of their hand, even The Time Machine understood this…I wonder why?

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So it’s a first-person shooter and it’s near enough by-the-numbers at this point, though it is fun to play, and with the right weapons you can actually have it your way, you can have Call of Duty style gameplay with machine guns and sniping, but you can have Doom style gameplay with one awesome shotgun, which is an overpowered beast and is the one weapon I used the most when close ranged attacks occurred…I mean for crying out loud, the things you can do with the shotgun, like blowing enemies apart, it’s so much fun. There is a number of other weapons like the pistol, machine gun, sniper rifle, grenade launcher, the autocannon (the minigun) and the Spikeshot. But by far the godliest weapon is The Seeker Rifle, how it works is that you aim your gun like normal, but when you fire, you can move the bullet around and make it hit an enemy in a different direction and watch limbs fly off enemies.

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But since it has Bioshock in the mind, you get powers in the form of a power glove known as the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) in the 1950s by Viktor Barisov. Powered by E99, the device can manipulate an object’s time state by either aging it into being unrepairable and dust or changing it back to new. And this is where I am going to say (with deepest regrets) why the TMD is much better than the powers in Bioshock. You can:

•Speeds up the aging process of objects/enemies.
•When used on certain enemies, forces them to shift between time, slowing their movement and you can shoot them down.
•Renews the state of objects to its original state
•An Upgrade of the Age/Renew ability can turn soldiers into the mutant enemies and help you in battle.
•Lets out a short ranged burst of energy from the device, knocking back enemies and objects.
•The chronolight allows the user to pull objects that are out of phase back into our dimension.
•Projectiles such as grenades or missiles fired from soldiers can be held and thrown back/away.
•Creates glowing footsteps showing the player where to go.

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And I enjoyed every minute of these powers. In Bioshock, there was only two powers I ever used, but in this game, you’re going to use ALL of them, in fact, you may need to use all the powers you have throughout the game.

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The setting is…like Bioshock to an extent, because despite not being underwater it still feels like Bioshock, from the propaganda to the dark atmosphere. Oh, did I tell you that this is also a Survival Horror game too, and…Singularity did it much better than Bioshock. In Bioshock I wasn’t too scared of most of the things I saw in the game, but in Singularity, there were some genuinely scary moments and the developers made good use of them when it’s needed. The music is forgettable, despite not having music for most of the game and let the environment sing its song for me and I do love the environment, a land of such promise but because of one false move, turned into a location full of secrets and horrors. The characters, as in the ones you interact with, are very memorable and likable, even the villain, despite not having much screen time is memorable. And then Renko, the main character you play is…is Gordon Freeman, the same silent character and is the avatar for my sad and pathetic life…whoops, too much information.

Overall, this is a fantastic game, and a much underrated one at that, despite being quite short, taking 4-5 hours to finish. Despite having similarities to Bioshock, in my opinion it had a much better story, for better or worse, had better gunplay, better powers and much harder puzzles. Though there are some secrets in the game that didn’t make much sense, especially at the end, speaking of endings, you get three and one of them actually making sense to the plot. So why didn’t this game sell well? I guess because so many critics called it a rip-off of Bioshock and so people just didn’t bother with it…in my opinion isn’t really fair, Bioshock was inspired by System Shock…ok a spiritual successor but an inspiration nonetheless. Singularity took inspiration and made something original with it, any idea was inspired by something…nothing really is original. Now it’s time to send this review to 2010 and inform people this simple message.

You can get it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows.

Rating: 4/5

Glitch Time!

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So this is a picture of my TV playing Singularity. Now this is where I found this hilarious shot where I shot an explosive at this enemy and he got stuck at this pose. NEXT GEN EY?

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