Follow

    Singularity

    Game » consists of 11 releases. Released Jun 29, 2010

    Singularity is Raven Software's alternate history shooter, where the player is given the ability of time manipulation.

    The Wheel of Dubious FPSes Episode 11-12: Singularity and Duke Nukem Forever

    Avatar image for arbitrarywater
    ArbitraryWater

    16041

    Forum Posts

    5585

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 8

    User Lists: 61

    Edited By ArbitraryWater

    Singularity

    Remember when Activision made video games
    Remember when Activision made video games

    Developer:Raven Software

    Release Date: June 29, 2010

    Time Played: A little under two hours

    Troubleshooting: some foolery if you want the FOV reasonable (I recommend Flawless Widescreen)

    Dubiosity:2 out of 5

    Would rather play than: Call of Duty Warzone

    Would I play more? I already did play another hour or so and may get around to finishing it.

    Having played a triumvirate of Raven Software games this year, on stream (Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force) I feel pretty confident in declaring them one of the preeminent FPS devs of the 90s and 00s (they also made Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which is baller.) Their last game before being absorbed into the Call of Duty Machine that currently comprises Activision-Blizzard was Singularity, and it’s an… interesting one? Apparently the product of an extremely messy development, the final product that reached store shelves was cobbled together in about ten months of raw crunch after almost being canceled. Despite this, it seems totally solid. Almost as if it was made by a team of devs who deserved better than the unenviable task of making multiplayer maps for the last decade.

    I respect any game with a half-decent minigun
    I respect any game with a half-decent minigun

    While I could definitely see parts of that truncated dev cycle in my time with Singularity, the most dubious thing about it might be its resemblance to Bioshock. Replace the Art Deco and underwater objectivism with Soviet Realism and time shenanigans and it’s definitely in the realm of “non-infringing but still heavily influenced.” Thankfully, instead of philosophy 101 lectures on Ayn Rand it’s mostly about how your silent protagonist accidentally fucked with time and now the Soviets rule the world. You’ve got a time gauntlet that’s basically your plasmid button, which gives you a handful of abilities you use to manipulate objects and solve environmental puzzles. There are physics interactions, boxes will be moved with telekinesis, and sometimes you will press “Q” to age or de-age things in the environment to like… open a grate or something. It’s never not abundantly clear where to go, if the NPCs constantly telling you where to go wasn’t clear enough. That’s fine. It’s a shooter from 2010 after all, so a scripted roller coaster is something to be expected. It’s a perfectly fine “one of those” even if it never quite goes as hard on spectacle as I imagine the devs would’ve liked.

    MMMM look at that 2010 GRIME
    MMMM look at that 2010 GRIME

    Also on the “wow they were kinda just trying to make a Bioshock” list, the entire game is just rotten with *environmental storytelling.* Which is my nice way of saying it has a lot of notes and audio logs and film reels you have to stand in place to watch or listen. Why? For some ungodly reason there are no subtitles in this video game from the year of our lord 2010, which is one of those oversights I find inexcusable. Credit where credit is due, the art design team clearly had a blast making fake soviet propaganda posters and there’s a lot of creative art direction in the periphery. It’s unfortunate most of the game takes place in extremely dingy ruined grey environments, but once again t’was the style at the time. I’d comment more on the story and characters, but honestly the storytelling is one of those places where the rushed nature of the game is abundantly obvious. It’s a touch incoherent and feels patched together, which I guess you can get away with when you have “because time travel” as a built-in excuse. Mostly I just want to comment on the number of recognizable voice acting veterans putting on their best/worst hollywood Russian accents, because that’s the one thing that actually stood out to me.

    The actual moment-to-moment shooty shoot bits are, to put it nicely, extremely Xbox 360. The FOV is locked to 65 without outside hackery, the graphics are rich with Unreal 3 sheen, and it’s abundantly clear the game was not made with the added precision of a mouse and keyboard in mind. I’m saying aiming down sights sure does just snap you right to whatever Spetsnaz or time mutant happens to be directly in front of you. It’s not a bad time, and there’s enough fun eclectic nonsense between the weapons and time powers that it’s occasionally worthwhile to do something other than shoot a guy with the default Assault Rifle. Raven Software’s expertise with basic-ass shooter fundamentals still shines through. When you hit things with ridiculous time magic or weird explody gun, there is good visual and auditory feedback (and the death animations were gruesome enough to get banned in Germany, apparently.)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that Singularity is pretty good, but it’s not great. It’s a solid approximation of much better first person shooters, one that I had to revisit while I was writing this so I could make sure I wasn’t getting specific things wrong. It’s Raven Software’s last non-Calladuty game, and if nothing else it has me considering some more Hexen 2 or something.

    Duke Nukem Forever

    You do not need a feature-length essay from me explaining how bad this game is. I have better ways of spending my time.
    You do not need a feature-length essay from me explaining how bad this game is. I have better ways of spending my time.

    Developer: 3D Realms (with help getting it over the finish line from Gearbox, Piranha, and Triptych)

    Release Date: June 14, 2011

    Time Played: Around 90 minutes

    Troubleshooting: none

    Dubiosity: 5 out of 5 (if not this game than what else?)

    Dukiosity: too much

    Would I play more? For one my throat was already hurting after 90 minutes of doing my terrible Duke impression. For another, I think I hate this game. So yes, I will probably play more one day.

    Okay so if you were on the internet at any point between the years 1997 and 2011 there’s a fairly decent chance you are aware of Duke Nukem Forever. For those too young, however, I have great news: you’re fine. What can I say about this game that hasn’t been said a thousand times? Is it the part where Duke’s entire attitude and aesthetic is embarrassing and sad? Or like, the part where it feels like a discordant, scattershot “greatest hits” compilation of every FPS design trope and set piece that existed between the years 1997 and 2011? Or the part where it’s an ugly-as-sin Unreal Engine 3 Early 360 Stank work of visual design? Maybe it’s all of those things!

    I’m not going to stand here and tell you Duke Nukem 3D is a game without issue, because it’s a game that is composed of “issue.” You don’t need me to tell you that from a modern perspective DN3D’s tone is equal parts sad and sleazy, a relic of 90s parodies of 80s action movies with a nice helping of weird creepy misogyny. However, as exemplification of what video games were in 1996, of what the First Person Shooter was aspiring towards, it’s an important *thing* in the history of video games. It has an attitude! It has interactivity! In a year where Quake sacrificed almost everything for speed and real-time fidelity, Duke 3D’s excess and vanity stands in stark contrast. It’s also a totally solid “one of those” even if I’m increasingly resolute in saying Blood is the actual best game using the Build Engine. Blood is so good you guys. Blood 2 seems like dogshit, but that’s another upcoming episode for another time.

    DNF is just… hey it’s the game I was expecting it to be. It’s a wretched, yet varied, pastiche of different ideas awkwardly cobbled together with bad shooting and the sense that the people who made this game think the protagonist is cool. Duke Nukem Forever’s only true relevance to the medium of video games is the infamous length of its development (which isn’t even the longest something was vaporware before coming out.) For that you can blame 3D Realms’ ambitions wildly exceeding the size of their team, compounded by George Broussard’s obsession with being on the cutting edge of tech. I mostly just feel pity for them. Well, that and I wish I had never played this game, but hey knowing me it’ll be streamed for charity at some point. Fuck all video games forever. Next time will be better.

    PreviousNext
    C&C Renegade and XIIIRealms of the Haunting and PowerSlave (DOS)
    Avatar image for sethmode
    SethMode

    3323

    Forum Posts

    0

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    I freaking love Singularity. Also, can't believe I actually finished DNF. All I remember about that game is the objectively horrific beginning with the girl gagging on Duke's dick which is a sentence I wish that I had never written.

    Avatar image for glots
    glots

    5049

    Forum Posts

    74

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    I finally rebought Singularity from a Steam sale earlier this year (having first played it at launch on a PS3) and my feelings are pretty similar. Really hated the lack of subtitles.

    Reading these posts almost makes me want to pull out my PS3 to play Resistance 3. Not that it was dubious, but just a shooter from a decade ago that I’d like to replay.

    If I did want dubious, I’d go for Gunman Chronicles or Will Rock.

    Avatar image for shindig
    Shindig

    6441

    Forum Posts

    0

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    You know what could've made Duke Nukem Forever an okay product? Developer commentary.

    Avatar image for rorie
    rorie

    7602

    Forum Posts

    1305

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 4

    User Lists: 3

    #4 rorie  Staff

    I remember liking Singularity. I suspect it was the inspiration for that Titanfall time-travel level, which is all it needs to be to be remembered fondly!

    Avatar image for apewins
    apewins

    260

    Forum Posts

    0

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    #5  Edited By apewins

    It makes me so mad to think that Raven Software, with their pedigree as you mentioned, spent almost a year non-stop crunching to get Singularity out of the door in a much better shape than many modern games with hugely bigger budgets can manage, and their reward was being neutered into a support studio. Despite liking the game a lot I wonder if they would have been better off cancelling it because it was really a no-win situation for them and their sacrifice amounted to very little.

    I also recall completing Duke Nukem Forever, yet I remember very little of it. It obviously didn't come close to the hype but I think the writing was already on the wall as the game was coming out. I suppose if you can stand crude and unoriginal humor the shooting action might have been fine in it, if it was already old-fashioned in comparison to games like Halo and Gears of War.

    Avatar image for bigsocrates
    bigsocrates

    4522

    Forum Posts

    125

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    @apewins: If the game gets canceled the studio either gets disbanded or becomes a support studio anyway. They had major layoffs related to the delay in Singularity so it getting canceled could have been the death knell.

    Activision under Bobby Kotick has always operated in this way. Look at Neversoft. They create the massive hit Tony Hawk franchise, take over Guitar Hero and run it into the ground because Activision is releasing multiple games a year, and then get made a COD support studio and get disbanded.

    Or Vicarious Visions. They pump out a bunch of Skylanders, make two very highly regarded remakes of classic games, now a Blizzard support studio.

    Activision only cares about massive multi-game franchises, preferably loaded with microtransactions on an annual release schedule.

    There's no room for a company like the old Raven there. At least the remaining devs didn't lose their jobs and those who didn't want to create Call of Duty maps until that thing eventually falls apart were presumably able to move to different jobs somewhere else.

    Avatar image for arbitrarywater
    ArbitraryWater

    16041

    Forum Posts

    5585

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 8

    User Lists: 61

    I got around to finishing Singularity with a final time of 5 1/2 hours and I think I'm generally positive on the whole thing. If nothing else, its very messy, cobbled-together state means it's never not moving. It doesn't quite matter that no part of it is exemplary or super memorable because the shooting feels good and it never lingers on any one sequence too long. Admittedly, you can definitely tell whatever game Raven wanted to make probably had a lot more going on, but for something I paid like $5 I cannot complain. I spent more time playing Hunted the Demon's Forge and I *still* haven't finished it.

    It's probably the best "meat and potatoes" game I've played for this feature thus far, but I'd still call it dubious. Maybe not the one I'd recommend others seek out (C&C Renegade is weird and novel, Turok 3 is stupidly ambitious, and Daikatana is a notable disaster) but absolutely another example of why a studio of Raven's pedigree deserved better than to be "The Warzone Team."

    @sethmode said:

    I freaking love Singularity. Also, can't believe I actually finished DNF. All I remember about that game is the objectively horrific beginning with the girl gagging on Duke's dick which is a sentence I wish that I had never written.

    ...yeah that sure is how that game starts, huh. like actually kind of absurd how long it takes for you to actually engage in shooting in DNF

    @glots said:

    I finally rebought Singularity from a Steam sale earlier this year (having first played it at launch on a PS3) and my feelings are pretty similar. Really hated the lack of subtitles.

    Reading these posts almost makes me want to pull out my PS3 to play Resistance 3. Not that it was dubious, but just a shooter from a decade ago that I’d like to replay.

    If I did want dubious, I’d go for Gunman Chronicles or Will Rock.

    I believe @justin258 played Resistance 3 fairly recently and still enjoyed it. Like a lot of late-model 360/PS3 games, it's probably not gonna *run* super well, but hey that's what emulation is for.

    Resistance 2 might be a future Dubious pick though, and I thank you for your recommendations. I've never even heard of Gunman Chronicles! It looks bad!

    @shindig said:

    You know what could've made Duke Nukem Forever an okay product? Developer commentary.

    Would absolutely kill for a Valve-style commentary for DNF where it's just George Broussard going "so you see, the joke is that Duke is a really cool guy, and he doesn't need Halo power armor. So of course the line was going to be about how Power Armor is for Pussies, because that's what Duke would say"

    @rorie said:

    I remember liking Singularity. I suspect it was the inspiration for that Titanfall time-travel level, which is all it needs to be to be remembered fondly!

    That's probably a good point. I think Titanfall 2 (and Dishonored 2's time shenanigans level) probably do that stuff better than all of Singularity, but I could see it being an influence!

    @apewins: If the game gets canceled the studio either gets disbanded or becomes a support studio anyway. They had major layoffs related to the delay in Singularity so it getting canceled could have been the death knell.

    Activision under Bobby Kotick has always operated in this way. Look at Neversoft. They create the massive hit Tony Hawk franchise, take over Guitar Hero and run it into the ground because Activision is releasing multiple games a year, and then get made a COD support studio and get disbanded.

    Or Vicarious Visions. They pump out a bunch of Skylanders, make two very highly regarded remakes of classic games, now a Blizzard support studio.

    Activision only cares about massive multi-game franchises, preferably loaded with microtransactions on an annual release schedule.

    There's no room for a company like the old Raven there. At least the remaining devs didn't lose their jobs and those who didn't want to create Call of Duty maps until that thing eventually falls apart were presumably able to move to different jobs somewhere else.

    Don't really have anything to add other than "I agree with you" and "They should work out whatever legal issues Activision has with id so that Heretic 2 can get re-released." That game is in third person!

    Avatar image for justin258
    Justin258

    16519

    Forum Posts

    26

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 11

    User Lists: 8

    @glots said:

    I finally rebought Singularity from a Steam sale earlier this year (having first played it at launch on a PS3) and my feelings are pretty similar. Really hated the lack of subtitles.

    Reading these posts almost makes me want to pull out my PS3 to play Resistance 3. Not that it was dubious, but just a shooter from a decade ago that I’d like to replay.

    If I did want dubious, I’d go for Gunman Chronicles or Will Rock.

    I believe @justin258 played Resistance 3 fairly recently and still enjoyed it. Like a lot of late-model 360/PS3 games, it's probably not gonna *run* super well, but hey that's what emulation is for.

    Resistance 2 might be a future Dubious pick though, and I thank you for your recommendations. I've never even heard of Gunman Chronicles! It looks bad!

    I did, in fact, recently play all the way through Resistance 3. It's still a good game! Is it a great game? I don't know if I'd go that far. I might have a decade ago when I played it, but these days it's "merely" a good 4-6 hours of gameplay. As someone who toes the line of "framerate and resolution snob", it was a bit of a shock to go back to Resistance 3 and go "oh god how did we ever do this" but I still found it fun and enjoyable enough to finish it and feel good about my time with it.

    I do think the franchise feels kind of squandered, though, like it never quite found its place, and I think that might be a decent discussion all its own.

    I remember playing Resistance 2 and thinking it was very much not a good game, with a lot of bad game design decisions, though honestly I might replay it sometime soon just to see if that memory holds up.

    Avatar image for shindig
    Shindig

    6441

    Forum Posts

    0

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    It also seems like DNF resulted in something that quadrupled down on meaningless interactivity. The whole first 40 minutes is "You can do reps to increase his health bar. Draw on this whiteboard! PLAY POOL. PLAY PINBALL!" Imagine the months or years spent developing that working Pinball table. Imagine the days spent getting the shit flinging physics right.

    Avatar image for glots
    glots

    5049

    Forum Posts

    74

    Wiki Points

    0

    Followers

    Reviews: 0

    User Lists: 0

    I did, in fact, recently play all the way through Resistance 3. It's still a good game! Is it a great game? I don't know if I'd go that far. I might have a decade ago when I played it, but these days it's "merely" a good 4-6 hours of gameplay. As someone who toes the line of "framerate and resolution snob", it was a bit of a shock to go back to Resistance 3 and go "oh god how did we ever do this" but I still found it fun and enjoyable enough to finish it and feel good about my time with it.

    I do think the franchise feels kind of squandered, though, like it never quite found its place, and I think that might be a decent discussion all its own.

    I remember playing Resistance 2 and thinking it was very much not a good game, with a lot of bad game design decisions, though honestly I might replay it sometime soon just to see if that memory holds up.

    I felt inspired enough to nab a month of PS Now from a sale to finally give it a re-visit and yeah, it still seems fun enough! It did make me gaze at my Series X very longingly and ponder how Resistance 3 would also be pretty great to play with both the resolution and FPS boosted up, but no such luck in the Sony camp. At least it worked without any noticeable input lag or terrible compression, so that's something.

    I'm personally fine with just checking back on the third game. I played the first two games before three came out (due to the so called "Caravella syndrome" of having to play the previous parts first) and even back in 2011 they felt janky to play. They clearly took inspiration from some other games and improved things for three, because it's easily my favorite of the bunch. Shame it seemed to flop hard, but at least Insomniac is still doing more than well.

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.