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Old 07-29-2010, 12:57 PM   #1
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[360/PS3/PC] - Singularity Review

Title: Singularity
Platforms: Xbox 360/ PS3 / PC
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Developer: Raven Software
Publisher: Activision
MSRP: $59.99
Writer: Martin 'lost' Perry

Singularity Review

The Russians are coming! With time machines!

You’ll be familiar with the output of Raven, I can almost guarantee. As the developers of the X-Men Legends titles and their recent relaunch of Wolfenstein it’s likely that although you might not have played any of their games you have probably talked to somebody who has. Well, this is the developers latest release, Singularity, a game that bears all the hallmarks of the developers focus on consistent quality, even if it is far from revolutionary.


As part of a US military team you open the game up floating over the mysterious Russian island of Katorga 12. The shit hits the fan pretty quickly as a massive explosion knocks your bird out of the sky and hurtling down towards the creepy, abandoned isle below. Soon armed with a ‘Time Manipulation Device’, you will head on a time warping journey to reverse the terrible future that you put in motion after an early heroic act.

It’s really those first few hours, when all of this intrigue makes itself known, that really shine. The opening area, a mostly domestic zone, has creepy written all over it. Stumbling across ghosts of the past there’s some real psychological horror – bouncing balls, slamming doors and the very first monstrous enemies skulk around the shadows. BioShock leaps to mind as an obvious influence, the glowing key items being particularly reminiscent, and while some concerns arise that this game will be something of a copycat, all of this oddity is really enjoyable.

As you move further into the game the tone shifts significantly away from creepy and odd towards violent and monstrous. Like all those classic FPS games your parents played bigger and better weapons become available to take down bigger and badder enemies. There’s little requirement for spooks when you are battling against a giant, hairy spider-thing. The visceral excitement certainly increases, blood and gore will win over most gamers, and Raven obviously know how to put a shooter together. The change does send the game hurtling towards acceptable mediocrity but that’s where all those fancy time powers come in.


At various points in the game you’ll flash back to the 50s – usually to put in motion some event that will advantage your present-day self. These sections mix up the shooting a good bit, pitting you against Russian soldiers instead of monsters and bogeymen. E99, the resource that makes all of this time travel possible, has also enabled weapons developers to up their game. Expect to face men with modern weapons in a period setting – a scenario that increases the overall sensation that you ain’t in Kansas anymore.

On top of this the ‘Time Manipulation Device’ receives upgrades as you progress; levitation, slow motion area bombs and an Iron Man style repulsion melee attack. It’s primary function is its ability to age and renew certain objects within the world. See a crushed oil drum? Why not make it new again and throw it at your enemies? Some puzzles will require you to expand and contract objects like these to open rusty gates or to fit an object through a tight gap. These sections tend to present themselves at quiet points in the action, the game delivering a heady mix of aggression and calm as it moves along. Boss battles are the strongest contrast to these moments. Several impressive bullet sponges make themselves, and their weak spots, known to you throughout, the best being a massive tentacle beast that you need to take down while precariously balancing on a train over a gorge.

Multiplayer packs out the package, not achieving much more. Allowing you to play as human soldiers or the various mutated monsters that you’ve crushed during the single-player campaign, capture point and team deathmatch modes offering something different, but certainly less compelling , to the usual offerings. It’s really quite throw-away, and arguably unnecessary given the decent value for money the substantial, if 10 hours counts as that now, single-player campaign. The games are stable, the lobbies fairly full and the match-making decent – they just aren’t exciting additions.


Singularity surprised me, I went into it expecting it to be by the numbers and boring. Truthfully, it’s by the numbers but really enjoyable. All the time manipulation and control is a fun gimmick but the core of the gameplay is a mechanically sound, classically designed first person shooter. I can’t help but wish that Raven would think out of the box a bit, they even go as far to re-use effects and tricks that you might recognise from Wolfenstein. Despite these criticisms, and a weak multiplayer, if you want a solid shooter with a compelling story then you need look no further. Everybody should at least rent it, buying not quite necessary.

Score: 4 out of 5


The Good
  • Solid, experienced design that delivers plenty of fun and action.
  • The time effects are fun and your arsenal has some good variation.
  • Decent puzzles and all the time travel/effects stuff is really enjoyable.
  • A good story, with interesting twists and some decision making to spice things up.

The Bad
  • I would have preferred that it stay spooky rather than overtly monsters based.
  • The multiplayer could definitely be more compelling.
  • A bit too familiar in plenty of places.

The Ugly
  • Unreal Engine texture pop-in runs riot.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:00 PM   #2
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Screenshots
(Courtesy of Activision)










Live Gameplay

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Old 07-29-2010, 01:48 PM   #3
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I'm glad EA saw fit to give Singularity a much more fair review than it gets elsewhere. It's not an instant-classic, but it's critically underrated for sure.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:01 PM   #4
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I'm also glad to see this game get a fair review as well. I also fired up Singularity expecting a bland and generic experience with perhaps some pretty effects (ala UT3 engine). I was blown away by the fun and well polished single player campaign.

My only complaint was the length, it took me about 5 hours to finish the whole thing.

This is a rental for sure, or if you see a sweet deal on steam, you definitely won't regret.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:05 PM   #5
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Pretty suprised with the score. I had heard this was utter crap. Now I won't be afraid to pull it from the discount bin in a couple months!
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:01 PM   #6
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This sounds like a good game, but I still have the copy of Time Shift sitting unopened on my shelf that I picked up for $7 a couple months back. So it will probably be awhile, if ever, before I get a chance to try this one out.
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:23 PM   #7
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I really enjoyed the hell out of this game but also had it gifted to me. I think it would have made a fantastic $25 or $30 title but there's no way I would have paid $50 for it. It's just too short and some of the design elements are just a little bit too off. Like the ammo/weapon upgrade stations only seemed to be in areas where I absolutely did not need them but weren't in any areas where I did. And also when you get and start upgrading the minigun the game is pretty much a breeze regardless of the difficulty (I played through on hard). Also, phase ticks. Fuck you, phase ticks. I'm not paying 50 bucks for phase ticks. I hate those fucking things.

Phase ticks, if you're reading this? Seriously, fuck you.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:10 PM   #8
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For people who were concerned about the texture streaming bug, it was fixed in a recent patch.
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:40 PM   #9
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Sounds like a good game to pick up on a cheap steam sale. I am feeling ten bucks for a five hour campaign.
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Old 07-30-2010, 12:41 AM   #10
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Will we ever move beyond the ammo mechanic? Why does any scifi game need ammo. Give me a battery-sized nuclear reactor and synthesize uranium shot out of pure energy. You know, the way Syndicate had us do. It's a goddamn scifi game, takes the brakes off.
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:10 AM   #11
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Good review. This is one of my favorite games of the year and it's a shame that Activision sent this one out to die (no ad spend, didn't even send review copies to many sites until after it came out).
Another solid shooter from one of the best FPS developers in the industry.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:15 PM   #12
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Great review Martin. I have Singularity installed and ready to go. I'm looking forward to playing it when I need to take a break from StarCraft II.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:53 PM   #13
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I really enjoyed Singularity's single player, to the point I may play through it a second time on a harder difficulty. There are certain time powers that can basically break the game and make you feel uber-powerful (the time lock bomb thing particularly is really powerful), but I never stopped and really said "Hey, this is dumb." It's a really fun title that people should play.

Edit: This post was number 9,999. I think I'll do something special for my 10,000th. Stay Tuned.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:42 PM   #14
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How do you have that many posts though? I don't remember you being that high somehow >_>
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anenome View Post
How do you have that many posts though? I don't remember you being that high somehow >_>
He posts and comments in 10+ threads a day. It's his employers that should be confused
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:55 AM   #16
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So i am going through Singularility now and the remote grenades you can roll around and explode from a distance is fucking awesome.
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Old 10-23-2010, 12:13 PM   #17
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Confident resurrection of an ooold review, I like it!

Yes, the remote grenades are/were awesome when I played it. Problem is that as things get more chaotic you rarely get a moment to slide one into the perfect spot.
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:32 AM   #18
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I just finished Singularity and confirm that as well Lost, great fun game though
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