The FPS pool is a little too deep for this BioShock knockoff.
Playing through Raven’s time-manipulating, quasi-first person shooter was an entirely muddled but enjoyable experience. An odd combination, sure, but genuinely accurate. While it provides a widely convincing narrative and thickening plot, the whole “playing of the game”-part felt a little off at times. This is mainly because Singularity, while at times being lots of fun, takes too many gameplay conventions from past first person shooters—basically, it never feels especially unique. As an entirely separate product, Singularity is a good game with lots of thrills and chills, but tossed into a deep, robust pool of western-made first person shooters, it just doesn’t stand out.
I personally don’t play first-person shooters for their thrown-together, cookie-cutter narratives, but Singularity’s fun combination of time travel and survival really makes for one pretty interesting ride—one that will keep you guessing right to the end. Granted, all of the story-related material does come with its blemishes. The real-time cutscenes, for example, are well designed but feature very over-the-top dialog and Russian accents. This may not have been the plan from the get-go but it generally comes off as clunky and poorly implemented. Your character, too, doesn’t speak a single line of dialog which makes the seriousness of the story feel a little goofy.
Singularity felt like it was trying to be was the next first-person shooter in the same vein as BioShock—have a great, well-told story with lots of twists and turn while attempting a gameplay structure where you must fight for survival. It doesn’t come off this way, though. The weapons were almost always full of ammunition, most enemies die pretty easily, and when you finally obtain the Singularity device—Raven’s excuse for plazmids from BioShock—you’re nearly unstoppable. All you need to do is point it at an enemy and dissolve it with a press of a button.
I know, I know—this could easily be fixed by a difficulty setting tweak, but I was playing on normal difficulty, not easy. Singularity is quite linear, too. There are definitely instances of forking paths and secret bunker to explore, but most of the campaign is going from point A to point B through a series of small corridors.
It too suffers from a copious amount of parody. You collect health packs, and when your health gets low pressing “up” on the d-pad uses one. Sound familiar? How about a perk system that lets you equip power-ups ranging from “better aim” to “you pick up more ammo”—still doesn’t sound familiar? You can pick up weapon upgrade points which you can then turn around and purchase, you guessed it, upgrades for your weapons. It’s like its trying to be an adventure like BioShock, but a shooter like Call of Duty. It never does one of them especially well and ultimately suffers more because of it.
Singularity’s audiovisual presentation is a mess, too. The graphics are especially ugly, even from a game boosting Epic’s Unreal Engine. There’s myriad amounts of pop-in, character models look blocky and unrealistic, and much of the colour is sucked away en way of browns and grays. The audio hits its highest points with some great sound effects and moody tunes, but generally the sound could be a lot better. The voice acting ranges from terrible to passable.
You’d be hard pressed for find a modern shooter without some sort of competitive multiplayer, and Singularity is no exception. The only problem was that I couldn’t get into a game, probably because nobody is playing it. Potentially this is because the game may not have sold well, but it also could mean the multiplayer is completely terrible. Either way, I’ll never know.
I was almost to a point in Singularity when I wanted to stop playing. The gameplay isn’t very fun—its best moments aren’t implemented well, and the presentation was unappealing. But I never did stop—something inside wanted me to keep going. To see what was going to unfold next. Ultimately I enjoyed my time with the game. It was a very flawed time, but one that wasn’t completely miserable. It may have gotten too off-beat with its reliance on past shooter’s gameplay conventions, but as its own unique game, Singularity is a good rental.