Clarity on Singularity
March 24, 2009 – Every once in a while, a game comes along that promises to shake things up a little. At the moment, Singularity seems poised to do just that. Unfortunately, many will assume that the time travel elements in the title will make this a game to write off. After all, time travel elements in games are a tricky business, just like on television shows. One only needs to look at Lost to see how things can get tricky real easy when hopping through time. However, Raven Software and Activision look to abash those notions and give a singular experience with those elements enforced in an intriguing way. Read on if you are as intrigued as we are about Singularity.
To draw players into the story more, the game begins in 2010 in a world similar to ours. The main plot revolves around a mysterious Russian island named Katorga-12. This island is where the Russians experimented with E99 (Element 99) during the Cold War. Unsurprisingly, an accident occurs on the island. Singularity is the name of the horrendous catastrophe. Players will control Nate Renko, an Air Force pilot sent in to examine bizarre radiation emissions. He crash lands and blacks out. When he wakes up, he finds a device attached to his arm.
The apparatus is called the Time Manipulation Device, TMD for short. He quickly discovers that the island itself is flashing back and forth between the 1950s and present day. These events set the pace of the game, as Renko searches for his co-pilot, tries to escape the island, and eventually prevents the Singularity from happening. Players will face off against Russians in both time periods, as well as against various mutated flora and fauna on the island. The only catch is that some of the creatures may have discovered how to manipulate time themselves.
Players have had experiences in time element games before, mostly through an on the spot time manipulation similar to the Prince of Persia series. In Singularity, events are more timeline-centric. These modes will allow players to explore things a little differently than in other time manipulation games. For example, some objects will have to be aged in order to get through a certain area. You’ll have to accomplish this using one of the specific modes available on the TMD. There are four different modes: Revert, Stasis, Age, and Impulse.
The Revert option will allow you to reverse time on a specific object. For example, an empty oil drum can be rewound to make a full oil drum or a destroyed wall back to a completed one. One interesting thing about the Revert option is the effect it has on enemies. Using this option will put enemies in stasis and reverse them in agonizing pain until they are dead. The Stasis option will also allow you to pull objects close to you and freeze them in time. For instance, a grenade can be held for an infinite amount of time without exploding because it is frozen in time. This will work much like Half-Life 2’s gravity gun with the exception being the object is held in time and not by gravity. The Age option on the TMD will allow a fast-forward feature. Wood crates become rotted wood, iron bars rusted, and, for enemies, they will age until there’s nothing left but bones and dust. The final setting on the TMD is the Impulse setting. This will allow players to send objects flying through the air. Each setting on the TMD will be upgradeable, which will usually result in faster times for the settings technique, but in the Impulse setting it results in the ability to kill small enemies.
There is another device in the game called the Chronolight. This little device seems like the coolest aspect of any time travel game. If you are in the future (2010) and you remember an item from the past (1950) being in one spot, then you can shine you Chronolight there to make the item visible. Once it is visible, you can pull it from the past to use in the present. The Chronolight is not affected by time stream, and it sounds like an interesting item we will be using a lot in the game to solve puzzles and gain access to areas we couldn’t before.
Raven Software has announced there will be multiplayer in the game, but information about this feature has not been fully disclosed. However, there is one feature about the game I find very interesting: players will have a traditional health bar instead of the new wave of regenerating life bars. Raven hopes this will increase the desire to explore the world of the game instead of rushing things along. Personally, I find this a smart move and will undoubtedly have players screaming for glory because they found a health item or screaming in anguish because they couldn’t.
Based on the current trailers, Singularity looks very impressive. The aging of the surroundings and items seems top-notch, but I am really interested in seeing what will be present in the final release of the game. The creepy doctor’s voice on some of the trailers also promises a good vocal direction for the game. Overall, there seems to be a lot of promise from the audio and visuals.
Time manipulation has always been a hot topic among sci-fi fans, and Singularity looks to spearhead potential debates over the possibilities of time travel. Solid gameplay will be what makes or breaks this game, and with the current options and abilities that we will have access to, I think we will be pleasantly surprised how much time manipulation we will want to do. It might make us wish we had a TMD of our own.