Time can be a fickle beast.
Luckily, Activition will soon allow you to manipulate it.
Coming in Spring 2010, a game called Singularity will drop for Xbox 360.‚ This time-traveling first-person shooter has some hype around it. ‚ Still, I was able to get my hands on Singularity during Comic-Con 2009 and I was quite impressed with what glimpse that Activision had to offer.
Let’s start with a little plot overview.‚ Singularity takes place in Katorga-12, a small island that passing backwards and forwards through time thanks to the finding of an element called E-99.‚ Players take control of an Air Force pilot of has crash-landed on this isle-in-limbo and are tasked with the need to solve the mysteries of the experiments and discoveries made on Katorga-12.‚ There always seems like time-traveling games have interestingly written scripts.‚ Singularity seemed like its following suit beautifully.
The unique draw to Singularity is that, beyond the use of your basic first-person shooter firearms, this title makes use of another tool called the Time Manipulation Device, or TMD.‚ The TMD allows the main character to “use time as a weapon” as the folks at Activision put it.‚ Players can use this TMD to rapidly alter the age of certain objects in the environment in order to make a situation more advantageous.‚ For instance, if a staircase has rotted and fallen apart but you’d still like to get to the next floor of the building, just use the TMD to restore the stairs to their former state and walk right up.
My first hands-on experience with Singularity was quite enjoyable.‚ From the beginning, I loved the feel and look of this first-person shooter.‚ To describe the gameplay, I’d have to say that Singularity is a mix between FEAR and Bioshock (with perhaps a dash of Portal mixed in as well).‚ The overall scheme of the graphics was definitely similar to FEAR, while the dark and mysterious look of things (not to mention the fact that players use their enhanced hands as a main weapon) reminded me of Bioshock.‚ Singularity also resembles both FEAR and Bioshock in its use of ghost-based flashbacks and creative problem solving requirements.‚ The Portal comp comes from Singularity’s use of a dual-function weapon in the TMD.
The best part of Singularity (during my brief exposure to it) was the many different ways players could fight enemies.‚ The first way is not very surprising: via the use of a gun.‚ Most enemies can be taken down with a few bullets to the head.‚ However, I quickly realized during my demo that ammunition comes at a premium in this game, making complete reliance on guns impossible.
The second and third methods of combat are much more entertaining than the first.‚ Remember that handy TMD I mentioned a little earlier?‚ Yeah, well that gizmo also has the capability to mimic what Star Wars fans would call Force Push.‚ Basically, players can use this function if a group of enemies are charging you and don’t seem worthy of your precious ammunition.‚ A simple toggle of a button will quickly incapacitate that once extremely hostile group of enemies.
Finally, players can also use the TMD to either age or un-age objects to create cover.‚ Say you see a giant partially destroyed pipe on the ground while you’re facing heavy enemy fire.‚ Just point the TMD, press a button and “" Presto! “" you’ve brought that pipe back to its former luster.‚ It’s now a convenient piece of concrete cover.‚ This diversity in the combat aspect really meshes well with the similar mixture seen in the problem solving portions of the game, making me more and more interested in what else Singularity has to offer.
Overall, Singularity seems like it’s going to be a pretty good game.‚ It’s been a little while that I’ve been this excited over the storytelling potential of a FPS.‚ Time manipulation is a hard concept to implement into a game, but the fine people at Activision may be on to something here.‚ At worst, I see Singularity being a rentable game.‚ At best, I see one of the must-have titles of 2010.