Singularity (video game)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Distribution||Optical disc, download|
Singularity is a video game developed by Raven Software and published by Activision and released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Singularity is Raven Software's third title based on Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. The title was announced at Activision's E3 2008 press conference.
The game begins when an electromagnetic surge from an uninhabited island called Katorga-12, once held by the Soviet Union, damages an American spy satellite. A group of American soldiers, which includes the protagonist, Captain Nathaniel Renko, goes to investigate, when another surge disables their helicopter. After they crash land on Katorga-12, Renko begins to phase between the present and 1955, the date of a catastrophic accident on the island. He arrives in 1955 in time to save a scientist named Nikolai Demichev from dying in a fire. As he rescues Demichev, a man tries to warn Renko not to save him; the man is then killed in the fire.
Back in the present, Renko discovers that Demichev has taken over the world. He is captured by Demichev's soldiers, but is rescued by Katheryn, a member of a resistance group called Mir-12. Based on a journal they found on Katorga-12, they believe that Renko can put an end to Demichev's reign using a time manipulation device called the TMD, developed by Victor Barisov. Barisov was killed by Demichev long ago, so Renko uses the TMD to save Barisov.
Back in the present, Renko and Barisov determine that they can set history right by returning to 1955 and destroying Katorga-12 with a bomb made from Element-99, the material that caused the catastrophic accident in 1955. Renko and Katheryn manage to find such a bomb, but Katheryn is lost as they retrieve it. They use the bomb to destroy the island, and thus, the research facility that Demichev used to become so powerful.
Back in the present, Renko finds Demichev holding Barisov at gunpoint. Demichev reveals that he rebuilt the facility after it was destroyed, so that history remained unchanged. Barisov realizes that it was Demichev's rescue that changed history, so he asks Renko to go back and stop his past self from saving Demichev. Demichev, in turn offers Renko a place in his empire in exchange for the TMD. He also points out that Barisov's plan has failed before – the mysterious man who told Renko not to save Demichev in 1955 was Renko himself.
At this point, the player has a choice. If Renko shoots Demichev, he goes back in time to stop himself from saving Demichev in the first place. In order to do so, he decides to kill his past self. In the epilogue, it is implied that Barisov recovered the TMD and used it to conquer the world himself. If Renko instead shoots Barisov, he and Demichev rule the world together. After some time, Demichev begins to fear Renko's growing power, and a cold war develops between the lands ruled by Renko and those ruled by Demichev. If Renko shoots both Demichev and Barisov, Renko allows the world to fall into chaos. Later, he rises up as a new world leader, using the TMD to assert his power.
A scene then shows a wounded Katheryn, pulled into 1955 by a time distortion, writing the Mir-12 journal which will later be used to track down Renko.
Singularity is a first-person shooter with survival-horror elements. A main gameplay device is an artifact known as the Time Manipulation Device (TMD). The TMD is powered by an E-99 core, and can manipulate time. The TMD can move an object backwards or forwards in time, attract something and hold it indefinitely, or send a pulse of energy that can stun or kill enemies. The TMD can only affect living beings or objects that have been in contact with E-99 (supposedly, almost everything on Katorga-12 is imbued with the element, but in practice, the TMD can only affect a limited set of objects). Some living beings, like the Spetsnaz troops who are covered in heavy armor designed to repel E-99, are immune as well.
The TMD can be used in conjunction with special power stations scattered across the island that greatly amplify its power, allowing it to affect objects much larger than it can normally control such as collapsed bridges or shipwrecks.
There are two multiplayer modes. Both modes have the players fighting as either the soldiers or creatures, with each side having their own classes and abilities. One mode, simply called "Creatures vs. Soldiers", is a simple team deathmatch style game, while the other mode, called "Extermination", has the soldiers trying to take control of various beacons on the map, with the creatures tasked with defending said beacons to prevent eradication. Once the time runs out, or the soldiers capture all the beacons, the players switch roles.
The game's concept was based on Brian and Steve Raffel's memories of the Cold War era and exploration of old abandoned buildings including a WW2 military base in the vicinity of Madison, Wisconsin. Some aspects of the game, especially the 1950s sections were inspired by pulp sci-fi movies.
Singularity received generally favorable reviews. On review aggregator website Metacritic, Singularity received a rating of 76 for the PC and Xbox 360 versions, and 77 for the PlayStation 3 version. On GameRankings, the PC version received 78%, the PlayStation 3 version 79%, and the Xbox 360 version 77%. Activision was disappointed with Singularity's sales, which came out under 400,000.
Destructoid sang the game's praises, stating that: "Singularity is a game that manages to feel like its own thing despite being pieced together from previous FPS games, and if you want a great Summer shooter full of violent toys and silly super powers, then you won't get much better than this. Quite possibly the best new FPS of the year so far".
IGN was not so enthusiastic, and said that while "the gunplay is solid and there are a few memorable set pieces", the game is "ultimately limited by a lack of imagination where a neat time-manipulation idea is handcuffed to a by-the-numbers first-person shooter".
Some reviewers criticized the game for similarities to other games, such as BioShock. Leon Thomas of the show Heart Of Gaming (showcased on Blistered Thumbs) said he preferred the game over BioShock, saying it had a better ending, better weapons, harder puzzles, more enjoyable gameplay, and a better morality system.
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