The game opens with an aircraft crash near an island. When your character regains consciousness, he stumbles through wrecked and decayed buildings into a main hall, draped with red banners and the symbols and icons of a failed ideology. If this sounds like the opening to Bioshock, I’m sure Activision will take it as a compliment.
Raven Software developed Singularity for Activision, and like their version of God of War, Wolverine, successfully created a game that mimics the original but creates a highly polished world and a unique experience. There is no escaping the parallels to Take Two’s Bioshock. Besides the opening, the main character is led along a quest by an untrustworthy narrator, acquires a multipowered device on his left hand, and explores a crumbling city with a dark past.
As in Bioshock, your character learns the story of his surroundings through discovered notes and voice recordings. In addition, he also experiences ghostlike visions of those who died on the island. Back in the 50s, the Soviet controlled island Katorga was discovered to have a new, unstable element called E-99, with untapped potential for energy production. Stalin created a base on the island, and ordered experiments involving E-99 to develop it as a weapon in the cold war. Unfortunately, a catastrophic industrial accident involving the unstable element destroyed much of the base, created mutants of all the survivors, and created pockets of temporal instability. These holes in time allow the player to see the past as ghostly echoes and a few of the holes are even large enough to travel through to the date of the accident, or…Singularity.
Your character arms himself against the mutants with the usual array of pistols, sniper rifles, and shotguns, but the weapon that gives the game the most fun is the experimental Time Manipulation Device. The TMD can age or reverse age in any object saturated with E-99, allowing the player to reconstruct broken staircases or bridges, boxes and audio recordings. The TMD has devastating effects on enemies as well, aging them into puddles of goo, or driving them mad and blind. The TMD also has a great ability called Deadlock, which projects a large bubble where time is stopped. Enemies trapped in the bubble can be shot at the players leisure, and was my favorite ability of the game.
The time manipulation powers made this a very fun shooter to play, although at times it was frustrating that the whole environment wasn’t effected by the TMD. Why would any door truly be locked, couldn’t it just be aged into dust? The Russian aspect of the game was a bit overplayed as well. Although most of the Soviet propaganda posters looked great, the accents on the voice recordings were laughable, and signs were in English with backwards “R”s. These failings aside, the game’s environment was rich and evocative. The crumbling base was lovingly detailed, and gave a sense of time and the disaster that had occurred.
Singularity looked and played great, and had enough of a story to keep my interest. I enjoyed it much more than the actual sequel to Bioshock, and I highly recommend that any fan of that game to check it out.
Singularity was played on Xbox 360 for 14 hours. The story was completed on normal mode. 9/50 achievements were unlocked.