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Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1, 2 - 12
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Singularity, the new FPS from Raven Software, rekindles the Cold War by setting a mythical "what if" scenario where, shortly after World War II, Russia discovers a new, powerful element called E99. This element can be harnessed to produce massive amounts of power, but the unstable nature causes a myriad of catastrophic events, including some variation with the space-time continuum. This type of game setting, where time itself can (and often will) shift, opens up a plethora of possibilities to game designers in terms of level design and character creation. While I will not go so far as to say that the designers took full advantage of the possibilities, there is evidence of a great amount of detail within the settings. As the main character explores his surroundings, both present and past, great care has been taken to create a sense of being in the location. When first arriving on the island of Katorga 12, the burned out and dilapidated buildings, the desiccated bodies and the debris blowing in the wind all create an ambiance that sets the stage for the story. Add to this graphic feast the well-crafted voiceovers and sound effects, and Raven Software has done a very respectable job in regards to the audio/visual aspects of Singularity. Still, as any gamer will tell you, a pretty game is not always a great game. So, is Singularity a great game?


The story of Singularity is interesting, if a bit predictable. After making the discovery of E99, the Russians set up a research facility on Katorga 12 in order to determine exactly what they had uncovered. During their research, something went dreadfully wrong. The Russian government quickly covered up the event and it went unnoticed by the West for 50 plus years. After noticing an EMP disturbance in satellite imagery, the United States sends in a recon team to explore the now deserted island. Enter the player. After crashing on the island, players will quickly discover that all is not as it seems. The main gameplay device, which players will receive fairly early during the game, is the Time Manipulation Device (TMD). Using the TMD, the main character, Capt. Renko, will alter time on a nearly limitless scale. In fact, the only limitations to this power seem to be those arbitrarily applied by the developers. Possibilities included aging enemies to dust, de-aging to create passageways and even the complete restoration of old buildings.

After a trip back to 1955 in which Renko discovers what happened on Katorga 12, he returns to the present, only to find the island now inhabited by soldiers and mutants. Renko's journey to discover what happened and to stop the singularity will require a mixture of frantic FPS style gaming as well as a good amount of puzzle solving. As interesting a concept as using the TMD to best these puzzles can be, the basic nature of the puzzles quickly overrides the fun factor, sadly making them more tedious than enjoyable later in the game.

Singularity also includes a Multiplayer Mode, but this is fairly limited, offering only two variations of play; Team Deathmatch and a Headquarters-style match where players vie for control of predetermined spots on the map. In both cases, the teams are divided into Soldiers and Creatures, each team having various classes with differing abilities. What sounds interesting on the surface quickly deteriorates into chaos on the playing field, making the Multiplayer Mode feel like an after-thought at best.


Singularity offers a wide variance in terms of difficulty. The three difficulty settings are pretty evenly spaced out, with Easy being exactly that and Hard pushing players to the brink of death on a regular basis. Normal difficulty succeeded in offering a nice balance, with basic enemies being easy to defeat in small numbers, but becoming a real hazard in groups. Even during the Normal playthrough, there are some areas that will likely require multiple attempts. Whether facing off against a "boss" or being put in an exceedingly precarious situation, these moments will test the mettle of most players and require a combination of creative use of the TMD and, sometimes, just a good supply of luck. These moments occur just often enough to keep the game from getting boring. Finding this balance is something that many game developers fail at, so in this regard, Singularity deserves a goodly amount of praise.

Game Mechanics:

Game mechanics center around the use of the TMD. Obviously, the goal of Singularity is to manipulate time in order to stop (or not) the events leading up to the singularity event. As the game progresses, Renko will unlock new powers of the TMD, keeping the game fresh throughout the story. Using the TMD, Renko will have the ability to freeze soldiers in place, age crates to dust, move them and then de-age them in order to create a path over fences (this begs the question though; why not just age the fence to dust?) or even, with the help of boosting devices, completely restore a rusted old ship. Some player choice in the selection of the powers to upgrade offers a limited feel of customization to the character. Between the time-based powers, mutant baddies and historic soldiers, one cannot help but compare Singularity to several recent games; TimeShift, BioShock and Castle Wolfenstein. Taking these comparisons into account, Singularity does a nice job of combining all of these elements into an interesting and engaging story. The only real drawback is that the story is relatively short and can easily be beaten in 8-10 hours, with no real replay appeal (the multiple endings can be seen by reloading the last save and making a different choice). Multiplayer Mode is limited at best, so for most players, Singularity would be a great rental. For fans of the other games mentioned above, it is definitely worth the journey at least once.

-The Mung Bard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Buddy Ethridge

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista/7, Processor: AMD Athlon X2 4800+ or Intel Pentium D (dual core) 2.8 GHz or better, Memory: 1 GB RAM (Windows XP) / 2 GB RAM (Windows Vista / 7), Video Card: 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (excluding 8400 and 9400 cards) / ATI Radeon X1800 (excluding X1800 GTO, Radeon HD2400, Radeon HD2600, and Radeon HD3450) or better

Test System:

OS: XP, Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo CPU 3.06 GHz, Memory: 2.0 GB of RAM, Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

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