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Singularity [video game] [review] - Elf M. Sternberg
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Singularity [video game] [review]
Singularity from Raven and Activision, is a fairly ordinary first-person that takes a lot of its flavor from classic titles like Bioshock and Half-Life 2. It clearly falls into the "me too!" category of development, which is pretty much where Raven always falls; there's a reason why it's always getting the follow-on missions, which are always a little flatter than the original. Here, they're trying to do something original, and the results are mixed.

First, the art, music, and basic plot are all top-notch. You're a US Navy Seal sent to the Russian island of Kortuga, where a tragic nuclear accident happened in 1960 during the height of Soviet/US tensions. There, you discover that the reactor wasn't nuclear, but something made with E99, the phlebotinum of the story that ultimately leads you to acquiring super powers with which to fight off the ever-increasingly bad guys. As you make your way across Kortuga from the civilian docs at one end to the reactor at the other, the effects of E99 become more and more visible as you fight off waves of zombies, monsters, mutated vegetation, and a secret Russian combat team dedicated to rebooting the great Soviet conquest of the world. The weird, glowy plantlife is heavily Half-Life influenced. There are three possible endings, but only you last action picks which final cutscene you see, so it's not like Bioshock in that regard.

The art is fantastic; a lot of effort went into making Kortuga look and feel realistic. Abandonment and decay are the word of the day; this island hasn't seen human habitation in five decades, after all. Notes, tape recordings, and film strips tell the story of Kortuga and its inhabitants, the kind of parallel storytelling mechanism found in Bioshock and Doom 3, where the place clearly had "a life" before you got there. Some of the scenes create genuine pathos. (If everything is falling apart, how to the tape recordings and film strips even work? Ah, you see, there's actually a plot point to explain that!)

There is some great dialogue, although as Captain Renko you only get one line yourself. You have a series of allies, although the role of one, Katherine, is poorly explained. She's not presented as either eye candy or love interest, but her own motivations aren't clear enough to justify her presence. Devin, Boraslov, and Demichev all have clear reasons for being on Kortuga.

The one biggest complaint I have about the game is the railing. There are places you simply can't jump to or walk toward because, well, because the developers didn't finish developing anything past that point. Modern games like Half Life 2 and Bioshock allow you to go back and recover resources sometimes, but Singularity is old-school: when you enter a zone, the door slams shut behind you, even if the place is powered down! There is only one way to go: forward. You're having what the developers describe as "a guided experience," rather than an open world.

The combat is fairly straightforward and familiar to anyone who's played first person shooters. There are a few boss battle set pieces, most of which are well done. Your powers have a specific theme for which telekinesis doesn't fit at all, but telekinesis becomes one of your most important powers.

Singularity was worth the $4.99 I paid for it used. I don't know that I'd have bought it new. It was worth every penny, and every hour of play, but I probably won't play it twice.

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Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

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Comments
sianmink From: sianmink Date: January 28th, 2015 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought Singularity was fun, and competent, but generally forgettable. It didn't do anything to stand out, and it seems like it was fine with being that way.
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