Giant Bomb Review

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Singularity Review

4
  • X360
  • PS3

Singularity creates an interesting world and uses its time-bending abilities to craft a fun story that's worth seeing through to the end.


 You'll go back and forth between timelines as you attempt to complete your mission.
Singularity has a good atmosphere to it that makes it easy to look past a simple set of abilities that make most of the first-person shooter's puzzle-solving a little too easy to solve. But it's got pretty good shooting and a decent multiplayer mode, too, making for a solid package that's a great fit for fans of story-driven shooters.

The game casts you as Captain Nate Renko, and at the opening of the game you're heading out to investigate a Russian island called Katorga-12. The research island, as it turns out, is the home of a substance known as Element 99. The mystical element, discovered by Russian scientists in the 1950s, has time-warping properties, and as the result of Russian experiments gone horribly awry, time is sort of ripping at the seams all over the island. So you'll change history, then change it again, and then maybe change it a few more times over the course of the game. The game does a great job of showing how your minor actions fan out to cause global changes to the power structure of the modern world, and the game has a terrific atmosphere to it that made me want to explore every little hallway in search of audio logs and other little things to help fill in the story. Some of the audio logs are better than others, but overall there's enough good story stuff to keep you focused on progressing through the game. The story works because the game's good at feeding you a lot of misdirection. Since you're making changes to the timeline, it's hard to tell who to trust at any given moment.

As you work your way across the island, you'll do a lot of shooting. Most of your targets will be Russian soldiers, but there are plenty of messed-up time creatures to dispatch along the way. The game gives you some decent standard weapons to use, like an assault rifle, pistol, shotgun, or minigun. But then you've got the sniper rifle, which has a slow-motion feature that makes taking down distant enemies a breeze. Then there's a grenade launcher, which has an alternate mode that fires out a glowing ball that you can control, allowing you to roll grenades right up to enemies before taking them out. Or the spikeshot, which is a railgun of sorts that fires charged-up slugs that explode shortly after impact. Though you can swap most of these weapons around at will by visiting a weapon station, you also encounter a couple of weapons that are limited-use guns that aren't stored. The coolest of these is the seeker, which is a rifle that fires single shots. The catch is that time slows down when you fire these shots and the game gives you a bullet's eye view of the action, letting you steer your shots into your targets. It's pretty cool.

You can freeze enemies inside deadlock bubbles to make them easy targets. 
But guns are only one part of your arsenal. After playing through a prologue-sized chunk of Singularity, you find the Time Manipulation Device, or TMD. This is a glove-like piece of equipment that you'll use to do just about anything that doesn't involve shooting. Its primary function is to phase things back and forth between 2010 and the 1950s, when Katorga-12 went to hell in the first place. So if you find a busted staircase, you can tap your TMD button to set it back to its pristine 1950s state. Broken chalkboards can be reformed and read, mutant plants can be shrunk back down to a manageable size, and old ammo crates can be restored and used. Most of the "puzzles" involve aging or restoring various parts of the environment. You can also age enemies, which has different effects on different enemies. Regular troops get turned into dust, but a late-game upgrade lets you turn them into "reverts," which are blind, acid-puking enemies that lash out at anyone they can hear nearby. Aging a revert makes it freak out and eventually explode. Enemies that phase between time periods can be sucked back into your time with a quick jolt from the TMD, opening them up to enemy fire. It's versatile enough to be a useful part of your arsenal, but not so much that you'll use it instead of your guns. Well, most of the time, anyway.

While the campaign is the main reason to check out Singularity, the multiplayer's pretty decent. The extermination mode pits a team of human players against a team of creepy time monsters in an objective-based match. Playing as the enemy is pretty interesting, and the whole thing is class-based. So you can play as a healer, use teleport abilities, and so on. You can even play as a Phase Tick, which is a little crawling enemy that might as well be the Ticker from Gears of War. When playing as the Phase Tick, you can possess human soldiers, giving you the ability to kill the human team with their own weapons. It's a bit monotonous, and it only has two modes, but the multiplayer's still OK.

So yeah, what passes for puzzles in the world of Singularity could have been done better, and little things like the way you have to stand near audio logs in order to hear them (which slows down the pace of the game a bit) are sort of annoying. But the action is solid and the story is interesting enough to make Singularity worth checking out. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
83 Comments
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Edited by zonerover

Great review!

Posted by RJPelonia

I don't know. I think I'm done with time manipulation in my first person shooters.

Posted by BruceLeet

I Agree with the score, played trough the game on the PC and I really liked it. I just can't understand why Activision sent this game out to die without marketing.

Posted by Jeffsekai

No, do not buy this game. DONT. This is wolfenstine all over again.

Posted by AlwaysAngry

I don't know anymore. I see what seems to be a good score and review like this, but I just can't trust Jeff's reviews anymore after seeing all of his reviews I disagree with.

Posted by General_D23

Looking good! Will probably pick this up soon.

Posted by mutha3

Eh. I dunno, the game looked extremely cookie-cutter and generic in the quick look.

Posted by Gav47

Been playing this on the PC, its a really good version runs really smooth, even on my laptop

Posted by TheMasterDS

So a deadlock bubble is a bubble you can't break with a sonic screwdriver I assume?

Posted by OneKillWonder_

Spot-on review. The game doesn't really do anything we haven't seen before, but damn if it ain't fun. It's a great rental, at the very least.

Posted by ComradeCrash

Awesome! I might rent this game.

Posted by Mijati

Awesome game, had a really good sense of atmosphere although some abilities felt fairly useless and weren't used often enough that when I had to use them I wasn't exactly sure what I'd need to do.

Posted by Azteck

Might check this out when it starts dropping in price.

Posted by Wyld

go review
Posted by ZombieHunterOG

i need to grab this

Edited by m0nty

I went out and bought this yesterday based on your quick look Jeff. Just cracked it open 10 minutes ago. 
 
Here's to Nolan North... again.

Posted by DBagalot

Nice review. I'll check this out.

Posted by Marz

probably will play this next year when my backlog of games i haven't played has cleared.

Posted by TheHT

Glad to hear it, a big part of me was really hoping this game didn't totally bomb. Maybe it's my soft spot for Raven Software.

Posted by bybeach
@Jeffsekai said:
"No, do not buy this game. DONT. This is wolfenstine all over again. "

I don't agree with this comment as an absolute, but something like this is bothering me. I bought Wolfenstien and played about 2 hours and just totally disliked it. It wasn't that the game failled, but well, it was just flat and uninteresting.  The story, the graphics etc. 
  
I'll probably get Singularity down the line. the story appeals for a start. But it sure illustrates the Reviewer can have a very different opinion then mine with the caveat that his is the more positive of the two. It usually doesn't bounce that way. Good lession when it's one so well regarded like Jeff.
Posted by jkz
@bybeach said:
" @Jeffsekai said:
"No, do not buy this game. DONT. This is wolfenstine all over again. "
I don't agree with this comment as an absolute, but something like this is bothering me. I bought Wolfenstien and played about 2 hours and just totally disliked it. It wasn't that the game failled, but well, it was just flat and uninteresting.  The story, the graphics etc.   I'll probably get Singularity down the line. the story appeals for a start. But it sure illustrates the Reviewer can have a very different opinion then mine with the caveat that his is the more positive of the two. It usually doesn't bounce that way. Good lession when it's one so well regarded like Jeff. "
See, that's interesting to me. I loved both Wolfenstien and Singularity (the latter far more than the former). The weapons in both games just felt so good to shoot, and I loved the fact that they didn't take themselves too seriously.
Posted by Kinggi

Kinda surprised by this. I cant imagine this game is selling well at all.

Posted by EveretteScott
@Jeffsekai said:
" No, do not buy this game. DONT. This is wolfenstine all over again. "
Too late.
Online
Edited by TaccyP

For an atmospheric story driven shooter this game is pretty top notch. It doesn't reach the great heights that games like Half Life 2 or BioShock achieved at their respective times, but it's within the same ballpark at the very least. If this game had been released maybe 2 or 3 years ago I think it would have been fondly remembered. Unfortunate timing and poor marketing have stifled this game's potential.

Posted by RedJester1029

sweet 
Posted by Ceno

How come Jeff is the only one reviewing things these days?  Did Red Dead Redemption even get reviewed?
Posted by buzz_killington

So glad Jeff was into it.

Posted by schames007

Can't wait to pick this up!

Posted by Moeez

The TMD, the main draw of the game, is very limited. It's good for combat even though it becomes more of a defense thing, but out of that, the puzzles are brain-dead.  
 
This is more of a 3-star game; it functions, but there's nothing here you haven't seen before in a million other shooters.
Posted by TMThomsen
@buzz_killington said:
" So glad Jeff was into it. "
What? Why?
 
But yeah, Singularity is simply a great game that everyone should consider playing.
Posted by Xeiphyer

Element 99 is einsteinium =P

Posted by TheSmartMonkey

I can't decide whether I want this game or not.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

I was a little weary of this game at first, but after playing through it on PC, I can say that this game is actually pretty fun.

Posted by buzz_killington
@TMThomsen said:
" @buzz_killington said:
" So glad Jeff was into it. "
What? Why?  But yeah, Singularity is simply a great game that everyone should consider playing. "
Because I liked it, but it seemed like a game that if a reviewer wanted to, they could tear it apart and don't give it any credit.
Posted by glitznglam_style

SIngularity is great and so was last year's Wolfenstein (in terms of single player).
Posted by Keithcrash

I want to plat it.

Posted by Maclintok

I've only played about 90 minutes of Singularity so far and I like it.  The comparisons to BioShock are apt but Singularity is a bit heavy-handed in its clumsy mimicry of things like audio logs and it veers into cliche territory with the scripted events.  For example, there's a sequence where you have to escape a burning building with limited movement options and scripted collapsing ceilings to block paths that you thought were safe.  That sort of hackneyed stuff. 
 
But it's still very fun. I like the atmosphere and of course the most important thing, the shooting feels quite good.   
 
Such a shame it's so poorly marketed... Singularity will be buried.  I just don't understand the perception some people have of the game.  I don't understand why a FPS featuring time manipulation and some cool weapons is seen as unoriginal when there are me-too CoD clones popping out every year. 

Posted by Judoka

Looks fun...

Posted by Crescendo1897

Great review!

Posted by Archer88

Nice! I might just have to pick this up.

Posted by Roger778

 
Great review, Jeff,  I might consider buying this. Ever since I played Timeshift, and remembering how disappointed I was in it, I've been weary on buying another Time-used-as-a-weapon-type shooter, but this is encouraging.

Posted by ADAMWD

I really enjoyed the single player in this game.

Posted by lilman1101

Good to see a review of this.

Posted by Gerhabio

hey

Posted by HODGEY3000

looks pretty good
Posted by monster9999

Good review Jeff but just not a game for me

Posted by CouncilSpectre

I love this game!!!!!!

Posted by Binman88
@bybeach said:
"It wasn't that the game failled, but well, it was just flat and uninteresting.  The story, the graphics etc. "
In case this helps anyone, I'd like to mention that this is exactly how I felt about the game. Played an hour or two of it on the PC and hated everything about it. Maybe the game gets amazing later on, but I uninstalled it immediately.
 
If anyone wants a truly atmospheric game with a well done "do something in the past to affect the future" mechanic, look to Cryostasis.
Posted by Johnny5

Singularity surprised me. Although people compare it to Bioshock, I think it feels like a lot like Metro 2033 or Stalker as well.  Like the review says, the puzzles arent the highlight, but using all the powers in conjugation with some good weapons  and you end up feeling like a badass and having fun. 

Posted by GrocersPride

I think I'll give this one a try.

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