Mini Crits: Singularity

Before I begin reviewing the shit out of Singularity I should take a moment to thank Adam who is fast becoming the official sponsor of this blog. You see, Adam buys literally every console game that has ever been released which is handy when I’m looking to try out an FPS that didn’t receive a whole lot of coverage without actually spending any money. I can then hand over my opinions to you. Everybody wins… Except the Russians.

Singularity basically does a reverse Bioshock. That game attempted to cover it’s uncouth gun toting, spanner-wielding, blood pouring nature with a plot and setting designed to make it look Important. Singularity revels in multiple ways to mutilate your enemies so as to distract you from it’s absolutely terrible plot and setting. Spooky Russian research base? Evil experiments gone wrong!? Time-travel? Just forget about all that and explode limbs off generic soldiers with a gun that lets you control the path of bullets.

It could have been worse. It could have been Nazis.

It’s a game with willfully old-school corridor shooter design, albeit one that borrows liberally from various seminal FPSs of the past decade; full of moody foreboding, bosses with luminescent fleshy sacs marking weak points and crates – so, so many crates. However, it takes an important element of 90s shooters to heart: being unashamedly fun. In addition to your arsenal of quirky weapons the true star of the show is the TMD (Time Manipulation Device – obviously,) which is a sort of cross between HL2’s Gravity Gun and Bioshock’s plasmids. It’s a weapon, an environmental puzzle enabler, a bullet-time trigger and hidden object finder all rolled into one. The TM of the TMD is entirely automated as most things you can use it on only exist in two states; soldiers can be alive or disintegrated, messages can be obscured or legible and crates can be crates or crumpled crates. The TMD merely moves each object between these states… Although it can also turn soldiers into disfigured mutants that attack their former comrades. I’m not sure what time-travel theory is at work there, but you don’t want to try and apply logic to Singularity if you can help it.

The true test of any in-game gimmick is how well it performs when the shit hits the fan. As a horde of mutants rushed me in one particularly brown-trousers moment of Singularity I managed to freeze the majority of them in a time-bubble thing, throw in an explosive barrel and then kill any stragglers before unfreezing the time-bubble, destroying them all in a localised explosion. Not only did it look cool, but it was proof that the game is competent enough at introducing it’s myriad of features in a way that facilitates their use. More chances for experimentation would have been nice, but what is there works well.

I mentioned it also doubles as a puzzle enabler. Here’s Singularity’s one puzzle: You have a crate and a door with a gap too small to crawl under. You must use the device to age the crate so it’s all crumpled down, fit it under the door then reverse it so it’s full size again, lifting the door enough to crawl under. That’s the game’s only puzzle. Still, between that and the quiet periods of exploration that provide enough spooky audio and visual clues to make it obvious that you’re about to face a new enemy there’s enough downtime between fights to get you invested in the atmosphere of the game and prepare you for the next inevitable battle.

If you're thinking, "Wow that's a boring screenshot," know that it's a fucking official promotional shot. What?

And there’s a lot to like about the game’s atmosphere. Numerous visual effects create a unique experience. Not the bits where past events are played out in ghostly hallucination – that’s been done to death – but where a building peels away like dried paint to instantly decay 60 years just looks neat. Also there’s a level set on a ship that falls apart as you progress through it and I’m a complete sucker for levels set on a ships that are falling apart as you progress through them.

Essentially then, Singularity isn’t likely to be a game you remember in X years time as you reflect on the best of the genre but it’s a fun romp through B-grade Russian shenanigans that I highly enjoyed despite my current weariness with FPSs as a whole.


A quick note on the multiplayer: I didn’t play the multiplayer.


2 Responses to “Mini Crits: Singularity”

  1. 1 Chris
    25/01/2011 at 20:35

    I can see it has bridges, but does it have sharks or 80’s “pop sensation” Debbie Gibson?

  2. 2 adam
    28/01/2011 at 15:38

    It does not fortunately because that combination never has a happy ending.

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