Video Game Review: Singularity

In theory, Singularity, developed by Raven Software, seems like a home run. As an American soldier investigating the abandoned (but not uninhabited) Russian island of Katorga-12, you travel back in time, inadvertently change the past, and then spend the next 6 to 10 hours fighting across the island to set things straight. In execution, however, the game feels like a disappointing attempt to re-create the magic of BioShock and Half-Life, as it misses far more cues than it hits.

Gameplay can be decent, but it lacks the balance of a title like BioShock. One moment, you might be fighting Russian soldiers — but after you run through a doorway, the soldiers disappear and you have to contend with mutants.

The jumps between the game’s different sections can be as jerky as gear-shifting a car with the clutch half-down.

You’ve got guns, of course, and you can collect technology points and otherwise upgrade your weapons. Then there’s the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) on your arm. Unfortunately, the actual concept of time control is underdeveloped. Sure, the TMD has Age/Revert powers that you can use on various enemies and items, but typically that leads to a simple instant-kill move or the mere restoration of a broken bridge or staircase.

There’s a multiplayer option, but with a sparse selection of maps/modes and a weak online community, it isn’t very worthwhile.
Graphically, the soldiers and mutants are rather generic and the 1950s-era Soviet architecture uninspired. However, the timechanging flourishes look impressive, especially the Echo Events that let you catch a glimpse of the past. In the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, effects sound great, with loud whooshes, monstrous snarls, and tense musical stings that both punctuate the game’s narrative and highlight the surround mix. But besides the stings, the music is rather bland, and the voice acting ranges from passable to cartoonish, with some of the Russian accents evoking Boris and Natasha.

It shouldn’t come as any sort of shock that Singularity, while capable, doesn’t approach better games in the same vein.