Walking into the sound proofed demo room for Singularity, I had no idea what to expect. I knew the game was from the FPS gurus at Raven soft, and… that's about it. Then the PR agent told me something that becomes the kiss of death for any game for me.
"Singularity is a unique game that mixes FPS elements with the ability to manipulate time."
Geez, how many times have we heard that one before? I figured this one would be yet another game where you go around slowing things down to bullet time to turn the tables on your enemies. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong. Singularity is a truly original IP that appears poised to take the genre in an exciting new direction.
In the game, you play as Renko, a co-pilot on an American Air Force spy plane that has picked up some strange readings from an uncharted island off the coast of Russia. Their plane is quickly shot down, and Renko is quickly thrown into a bizarre life or death battle for survival. Weird occurrences abound, with ghosts and ghastly creatures at every turn.
It turns out that during the 1950's; the Russians were researching a new energy source using an element known as E99. Of course, the fan is soon hit with a common brown substance, and everything goes to hell. The Russian government has managed to sweep it under the rug for sixty years, until now.
Instead of slowing down time like F.E.A.R. or Max Payne, Renko is given a much more interesting ability. Renko accquires an E99 infused glove, called the TMD, that allows him to age or revert any item it comes in contact with. This opens up a shocking amount of gameplay possibilities. As a few examples, you can age structures to make them collapse on your enemies. You can age your enemies until they disintegrate. In certain areas, you can even rebuild entire buildings by reverting them. Of course, as time starts taking their toll again, and you must make your way through the building before it collapses again. One puzzle in the demo was solved by aging a staircase until it collapses so to walk through it, and then reverted back to an intact staircase once on the other size.
The TMD also allows you to use telekinesis type powers, and even allow you to turn rockets back against their launchers.
Your enemies are also able to use time against you. Certain enemies you fight will be attacking you from a different era, meaning that your 2010 bullets won't be hurting them in 1950. You see, the island is in a constant state of time flux, stuck somewhere in between current time and 1950, resulting in some mind bending paradoxes. Ghosts from one period stalk the other, creating an intensely frightening supernatural atmosphere.
Singularity features an enticing atmosphere that rivals such cinematic heavy hitters like BioShock and Silent Hill, albeit with more intense firefights. Throw in some outstanding voice work and crushing surround sound, and you have a game that will truly transport you to the island of Kortiga 12.
Raven and Activision also have planned a full suite of multiplayer action that takes full advantage of the time manipulation mechanics, but have remained tight lipped on the subject.
Singularity will make its debut on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC this fall. No word if there will be a secondary version released in 1950 as well.