Prepare to enter the fourth dimension in Singularity, the latest FPS from gaming veterans Raven Software.

‘Raven Software’ is no stranger to the FPS market. Having revolutionized the genre since the early 1990's with hits like ‘Hexen,' ‘Jedi Knight II’ and their last release before Singularity, ‘Wolfenstein.’ Raven knows how to make a shooter. However, being too comfortable in your surrounds can be a bad thing, and the edge that Raven used to have has dwindled. Singularity isn’t a bad shooter, it’s quite entertaining in certain spots, but it’s not going to make a mark in the genre like Raven used to. Depending on what you expect of out a shooter, ‘Singularity’ could fall short, or it could be just what you expected.

Singularity or Familiarity
Immediately you will probably have a sense of familiarity in Singularity’s world. Strange enough, Singularity feels like a mix up between ‘Bioshock’ and ‘F.E.A.R.’ with a little ‘Wolfenstein’ added into the mix. Arriving a few years late could be Singularity’s main drawback. Aspects like hidden tape recorders, dual wielding a magic hand with a weapon, and special powered gauntlets have all been done before. The other elements like monsters coming out of nowhere, dual realities, and cheap scare tactics have also been done multiple times. To be an original, all Singularity needed was a few years off its age. If this was 2006-2007, Singularity would be a blockbuster hit. Like I said, this doesn’t make the game necessarily a bad game, just one that feels dated. I am sure Raven wishes they had a real TMD at their disposal.

Two Time-lines, One Island
One aspect that helps pull Singularity away from the crowd is its dynamic tale of Russian debauchery, and of course, world domination. This interesting twist for a FPS weaves the player through two different timelines in a single location, the secluded island called Katorga-12. To commence this mind-bender you will be in the present day investigating the island after a radiation spike grabbed the attention of the U.S. Military. In mid flight towards Katorga-12, your heli is hit by a blind shockwave that starts your unnerving time-bending journey.

In the beginning, Singularity takes you by the hand, easing you into the supernatural and time-altering aspects. This is nice, but unnecessary, since we all know how to pull a trigger and run through linear levels. Making your way through the first few scenarios is really underachieving, which is unfortunately because I can see gamers hitting the power button before the game even gets going. Its like Raven was trying too hard to make an impact. However the impact doesn't come until you are clutching the TMD in your hand. After you have the TMD, Singularity starts to ramp up and hits its stride late in the game right before the ending. At least, Singularity picks up, becoming more then its opening level. So if you have already given Singularity a shot and gave up early, it picks up and is worth restarting.

What Could Go Wrong?
About the story, which I won’t spoil too much, it integrates a new element from the periodic table that can manipulate time and space called ‘Element 99.’ The Russian army who discovered 'Element 99' set up Katorga-12 as a military centered laboratory with the primary goal to create a 'Element 99' bomb appropriately called the 'E99 Bomb.' As expected things go horribly wrong and the bomb prematurely detonates obliterating almost life on the island. Abandoning the project after seeing its unnatural results, Katorga-12 was erased from history, until now. On the island you will rift between the present time-line-- a destroyed and essentially haunted Katorga-12 to the past, and the past-- Katorga-12 occupied by the Russian military in the middle of constructing their new secret weapon. Add in a few other twists and you have one hell of a story that should keep all sci-fi nuts glued to their seats.

Along with the time-travelling fiction is another game changer, the TMD (Time Manipulation Device.) This device, which is unlocked after the first few levels, plays off like a glove that gives you special powers. Fully upgradeable, the TMD adds a nice twist that fits perfectly into the narrative. This glove is used primary as an offensive weapon, but it also doubles as a puzzle solver. The TMDs main power, and the first one you unlock is the ability to repair or destroy objects by moving them through the time-line. This power is restricted to certain objects that are hot-spotted throughout the game. More importantly you can also use the TMD on people! which turns them into dust within seconds. Yes it is as cool as it sounds, and it looks the part too. As if that wasn’t satisfying enough you also unlock other powers like a ball of energy that can slow time, telekinesis, a devastating sonic boom, and more. I won’t go into all the details because half the fun is unlocking new powers during the game. In comparison, and once again, the TMD really felt like an alternative to your character in Bioshock... hmm, a 'Big Daddy' armed with a TMD, now that’s a game!




Raven Software


US Release
July '10


PS3, X360

Players 1
Online 2-12
HD 1080p
5.1 surround