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Singularity 360 Review - -

Gameplay 7.9
Graphics 8.0
Sound 7.9
Value 8.1
Distributor: Activision
Review Date:
July 2010
James Wright



Created by Raven, Singularity doesnít try to be too clever for its own good but rather, creates an addictively entertaining first person shooter that is reminiscent of game such as Bioshock, Half-life and F.E.A.R. Set in a pseudo universe where Russia discovered an unusually powerful mineral in the 1950ís which they dubbed Element 99 (E99) proved to be more meddlesome than its worth. Not only did this mineral turn out to be a powerful energy source but it also had the ability to manipulate time. The research of E99 took place on the island of Katorga-12 <insert Bioshock clichťs> as the Russians attempted to create a research utopia but unfortunately something went awry.

Due to this disaster, the Russians decided to evacuate the island and close the facility but 50-years later, a large radiation blip has appeared on the radar, causing alarm for the Americans. Sending in an elite team to investigate, the story of Singularity starts to unravel as the player is to taken to two time periods, that of the 1950ís and 2010. Without spoiling the story, Singularity features a fun storyline and through notes, recording and other means, you put together an interesting puzzle of what was and what will be. Itís a great story that thankfully doesnít take itself too seriously.

The twist to Singularity is the TMD which is a time manipulation device that is discovered early on in the game and allows the player to some extent control time around you. It adds some great gaming moments to the title as you can use this device for a variety of things such as slowing time, recreating destroyed structures and even ageing your enemies. Weapons are also available, thanks to E99 which include your standard weaponry from guns to shotguns and some bigger spoiler free weaponry. Even though some have criticised the graphics of this game, I think Singularity looks brilliant on the XBox 360 with its highly detailed graphics, engaging environments and enemies that seem to have come out of a horror movie. It adds to the atmosphere quite well. The first few levels are the most memorable as you see this giant radiation cloud spew red gases into the air and the island looks quite desertedÖ not that it really is.

The game is reminiscent of those first person shooters from yesterday, as opposed to the serious games of today. Itís just good old fashioned action as you shoot enemies mutated from E99, be transported back to the 50ís to piece together more of the story and of course use your TMD to interfere with time itself. Another highlight of the game is that it can become quite frantic at times which is made worse because of the limited ammunition and not knowing what is around the corner.

The game uses some frightening flashbacks (or time-backs if such a word exists) that shows you what happened in the 1950ís and then all of a sudden, the creature that attacked them is suddenly attacking you. For those that want to get involved in the story more, itís well worth the effort and through the notes and audio recordings, it gives you a great insight into life on Katorga-12 and yes, itís been done before in other games such as Bioshock but it works equally well here. Apart from killing, Singularity has some interesting time puzzles where you need to manipulate the environment to solve you current dilemma. This helps break things up but once again, you just never know what the consequences will be such as the larger than life boss battles. Itís very well scripted.

There is a good assortment of enemies in the game, each with their strengths and weaknesses but as opposed to the Russian humans, the mutants can really kick your ass at the most frustrating of times. Nothing is worse then being enclosed in a tight space as E99 mutants attempt to bust you up and when the ammo starts running low, you need to switch to your melee knife attack. With that said, the AI is pretty good and I would recommend people play the game on a higher difficulty setting to give you that added challenge. The biggest problem with the game is running out of ammunition on a higher difficulty level which can be quite frustrating, especially as you play the level again and again.

Similar to Bioshock, your TMD becomes an integral part of the gameplay which can be improved at various upgrade consoles littered throughout the game. This is another piece of gameplay candy to the player as it keeps things fresh and motivates you to discover the next power the TMD can perform. Itís also interesting how your powers donít affect all enemies in the same manner. For example, your time manipulation affects mutants differently which adds an element of strategy into the gameplay. My favourite power is slowing down time when you shoot your weapon, just like the movie Wanted which is great for the sniper rifle. Very cool indeed!

For fans of multiplayer, Singularity supports XBox Live and features two fun modes called Extermination and Creatures vs. Soldiers. Extermination is like your traditional assault mode, whereas Creatures vs. Soldiers is team death match and is quite fun to play. Itís almost like zombies versus humans which can get quite heated at times. There are several classes available and the map design for multiplayer is in-depth, without it being too large. For such a well made single player game, the multiplayer aspect may be small but it will definitely bring with it some fans.

Graphically, Singularity is a good looking game on the 360 and I loved how the developers swap between the current time and the 1950ís. There is some great contrast between the time periods as well, with the 1950ís being all shiny and new, whereas in 2010, you are walking through a ruined research facility with buildings falling around you. The flashbacks are well incorporated into the game and the developers make good use of the lighting, especially to scare the player. The characters are animated well, although it would have been nice if the mutants were a little more detailed as opposed to a blob like mutation. The 1950ís technology littered through the game and is fun to use as is watching the videos with the Russian propaganda against the Americans of the era. The Unreal engine which this game uses still works a charm!

Singularity may be a game that has been there and done that but those naysayers are wrong. Itís just a good old fashioned first person shooter that has a fun story, entertaining gameplay and an experience that is enjoyable from start to finish. It may not be the most memorable game in the world but if youíre a sucker for those classic oldies like Half-Life and Doom, the 21st century graphics and gameplay will really get you suckered in.


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