by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
It is not easy to create a First-Person Shooter that really brings something new to the table. Some shooters aim to offer players a sweeping story, others introduce a gimmick that lets you do weird or that defies any sense of logic, but can be fun to play around with. Personally, I prefer the storyline approach for the gimmicks are usually just that, gimmicks. Barring a few notable exceptions, the novelty of most gimmicks wears off soon, leaving nothing for the shooter to set it apart from its peers anymore. Enter Singularity.
Singularity tells the story of a 1950’s experiment gone wrong. During the cold war, Stalin was frantically seeking for a weapon or technology that would give him an edge over the west. His scientists accidentally stumbled over a previously unknown material which was named Element 99. Somewhat similar to Plutonium, Element 99 turned out to be both potent and dangerous stuff and researchers had trouble to harness its power. Eager to produce results, Russian Scientist Barisov carelessly put aside all safety measures during one of his experiments. This caused a major catastrophe on the island of Katorga-12 where Element 99 was being researched. Details about what exactly happened were never revealed, but Stalin ordered the island quarantined and all research destroyed.
The world has all but forgotten about Katorga-12, until one day Western scientists are picking up strange readings from the island. Afraid of another Tsjernobyl, the US Airforce sends a Recon plane to investigate. As the plane nears the island, everything goes haywire. The plane is left uncontrollable and pilot Nate Ranco barely escapes with his life. When he regains consciousness, he finds that a strange device has been strapped to his arm like a gauntlet.
Nate soon learns that the device he is wearing can be used to manipulate time. In many games, this would end up merely a gimmick but in Singularity, time manipulation is a crucial gameplay mechanic. With four modes, it can revert objects back and forth through their own timeline, freeze them in time and grab hold of them and create a new future. Intrigued? I will explain.
In Stasis mode, the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) can stop time for whatever it is pointed at. Imagine throwing a grenade at an enemy and holding it in stasis until the enemy arrives. In Impulse mode, it functions pretty much the same as the gravity gun in Half-Life. It will let you pick up objects and throw them at the enemy and even stop bullets in the air, turning them around and have them fly right back where they came from.
In Revert mode, you are able to move an object back in time and restore it to a state it was in its past. A great example of this, is finding an empty ammo box. It is useless right? Wrong. You can revert it to when it was full, and suddenly it isn’t so useless anymore. Aging works too. In Age mode, objects can be moved forward in time. Say you have a big crate on a chain, looming over a bunch of enemies that have found cover behind a shipping container. You can either age the chain so that it rusts and loses its strength, dropping the crate onto your enemies, or you can age the container and have that rust and crumble in front of your eyes.
It really is your own creativity that dictates how the TMD can be used. You might revert an empty oil barrel to its former, filled up state and use the Impulse mode to throw it at your enemies. You might also want to just leave it in place, run away from it and take pot shots at it while enemies are near. The possibilities are endless. Aging or reverting your enemies is a gruesome but effective technique that does not always have the expected results. Sure enough, aging will turn your enemies to dust, but reverting them does not turn them into infants. Instead, it turns them into goo-covered freaks that attack anything that moves.