Singularity

Developed by Raven Studios and published by Activision this game came out in 2010. It’s the adventure of Nathaniel Renko on the Russian island of Katorga-12.

And so it begins…
You, Renko, have been sent along with fellow American soldiers to investigate a surge of power that knocked out an American Satellite.  A second surge knocks out Renko’s buddies and his own helicopter which results in the player  being stranded on the recently re-discovered Katorga-12.  Before you get knocked off your helicopter an NPC by the name of Devlin tells Renko some basic information about the island to you know, set the mood. Once the mood is all spooky and Titan one, HQ if you will, has been contacted the player is set off on their first objective and let loose on Kortuga-12.

The Premise
Upon playing into the game a little further the player (I feel like it’s super rude if I refer to the player as “you”) is thrown back in time to some catastrophic event that happened fifty years prior (roughly) to the game. From here on out the player begins to experience and even gains the ability to hop around through time and by hop around I mean back and forth. There is no wibbly wobbly stuff here, except for maybe a few of the enemies.

Control Yourself
This game makes ample use of all the buttons on the controller, and I mean ALL of them. The “traditional” buttons, if you will, are reserved for things like jumping, reloading, and all that good stuff. But then you have the joystick buttons which control your time bending powers and so become very important.  Now these controls can be a little overwhelming because each button does something different. Thankfully the triggers are still shoot and aim down the scopes whereas the bumpers have taken on punch someone and wield the power of time! While being able to do a lot of different things is fun having to remember ALL the buttons and even how long you have to hold them down, as the duration of such an action  changes what happens, can make leaving the game even for a week or two tough to come back to. Just after a few weeks of having beaten the game I had to take an awkward ten minutes of trying everything out to get a hang of the controls again.

The Baddies
Perhaps the most important part of the game, gun withstanding, is what you’re going to be shooting at. Unfortunately this is where Singularity falls a little flat.  Most of the enemies are unimaginative and look like deformed monkeys flinging barrels. The story behind what they are, or how they got that way is also lacking. It’s a simple “radiation dunnit” with a “you should feel really bad for them” thought process. Why should I feel bad for them? What did they go through? Why was it so crummy? The player can of course find some scattered notes and voice recordings around the island which give some of the personal experiences of the victims, but they are executed in such a way that no real connection is made and ultimately one does not care when the note leavers die. Perhaps you wonder why I am focusing so much on how the baddies got there, rather than their abilities or the harm they can inflict on Renko.  A major part of the game’s atmosphere or over all feel is trying to get the player to feel. They want all the feels. With that in mind the actual victims of the initial disaster are so distant and so bland that the player ultimately won’t care. Luckily the big baddy is a real jerk and one can take real pleasure in chasing him. That’s right, chasing him and working towards his downfall. The actual defeat of said bad guy is really underwhelming.

Now the actual combat is also quite bland. Most of the enemies are just pallet swaps and a few extra lumps on certain limbs.  The only advantage they can seem to get over the player is sheer numbers and even then they are easily defeated. There are even enemies who kill themselves if Renko just pops behind a wall or convenient piece of concrete.  There are of course some difficult enemies and by difficult I mean FREAKIN’ IMPOSSIBLE to kill.  I’m talking about enemies where the game is like, “bypass these guys EXACTLY like I say or they will kill you before you can even scream FUU-,” (that’s how we all react to sudden enemies, right…). So there is some mandatory stealth followed by trying to run through a sewer pipe you’re pretty sure your three year old niece couldn’t fit through. On the bright side there is some stuff to kill in there, and by that I mean kill you. Singularity loves to put Renko in tight places, like the previously mentioned,  and throw exploding bugs at him. Even if you manage to shoot them from a ways off their blast radius (science!) is so large Renko still takes damage. If that wasn’t bad enough they run SO FAST it’s tough to shoot them before they get too close. Good thing only fifty of them come at Renko at once. Even in open spaces they are tough to kill and it is best to just run like a scared little girl (or boy…you know, equality).  The game does allow Renko to destroy some bug pods before they spawn, but beware the script, as scripted bugs are coming to ruin your day.

Let’s get Real…Singularity at first was very promising with good graphics and a solid foundation to build a great story on, but it all just falls apart after the first encounter with an enemy. There is no real explanation as to why the former citizens of the island had muted the way they did and therefore making different kinds of mutants, or even what the mutagen really is. I mean the scientists figure out how to harness it and use it for all sorts of cool stuff (time travel!) but there is no explanation or in depth understanding of it by even one scientist which just feels very unlikely.  I mean the very thing they claim mutates people is the CURRENCY and yet that isn’t radioactive? How does that make any sense? Why does it grow around the island like little plants? What about the island makes it so special that this…stuff can only grow there? So many unanswered questions. These may seem like small details, but it is the small things that make up the greater whole of the game and make it make sense and therefore allow the player to “connect” with it and really feel involved. A lack of emotional involvement paired with weak writing ruins what could have been a great game.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • interesting concept
  • good graphics
  • good visual atmosphere
  • a good variety in weapons
  • an upgrade system which allows the player to improve weapons and powers to their liking
  • great voice acting
  • good for players who just wanna run around and shoot things with no real complex story or tasks

Cons

  • overwhelming controls
  • repetitive gameplay
  • no subtitles
  • no world explinations
  • weak ending
  • no back tracking
  • when the player picks up a note there is no way to go back and re-read it without physically going back to the note and interacting with it again

Overall I give this game a solid 5 out of 10.

 

 

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