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Tubatic avatar 12:05 AM on 01.25.2011  (server time)
GameFlown: A Brief Review of Singularity (Single Player Campaign)

Money's tight, GameFly queues are long, and you don't have alot of time for games. Seriously. So this is GameFlown: Brief reviews / recommendations for the renting/used gaming enthusiast. So, lets take this format for a test drive.

Singularity (360 Reviewed)
Raven Software
GameFly Status: Available Now

The "Art" Score - 4/5 "Really fun, easy to like"

Singularity centers around a mysterious island ravaged by soviet energy and weapon research gone horribly wrong. The game follows a really nice pace, basically starting you off in an orientation center to give you the lay of the land, and proceeds from there fly through a timebending storyline that ranks right up there with choice episodes of TV Shows Sliders and Dr.Who. As with any good time travel fiction, the idea of bad things resulting from messing with the timeline holds true to satisfying results.

The pace of the game is pretty textbook, which by no means should be considered a knock against it. You start out weak enough to feel threatened and end the game feeling adequately equipped to show some finesse with the battle system as you bring the story to a close. Fans and students of Half Life 2 will see the influence all through out as the game deals out escalating threats with new powers and well placed item and weapon pickups. While some parts can bring on a bit of frustration, the intensity breaks to reveal fun, less demanding events and story drops. You'll come to hate those pesky little exploding "ticks", but passing them pretty much frees you up for a great ending third of the game.

At first glance, fans of thick time travel fiction may be off put by how shallow the time manipulation play actually is. The elevator pitch power, to rewind or fast forward the time of a thing or enemy, seems to play out as just problem solving mechanism and a missed opportunity to push time travel gameplay. But, as of fan of that sort of fiction, the story telling doesn't disappoint. Any good time-travel story gets a little tricky to follow at some points, but the game does a skilled job of not overwhelming you with backstory and timetwists. By the end of the game, you're presented with a closing sequence the should be able to satisfy most sci-fi fans.

Technical Score - 5/5 "Excellence in execution!"

Viewing the credits roll of the game one finds at least half a dozen different teams contributing QA hours to the production of this game, and the polish is evident. Not as immediately flashy as a 60 fps juggernaut like the Call of Duty games, Singularity presents a solidly stitched together world to play through. Each environment works both as a back drop to the story and the action. Environments are setup well for their intended mobs and little details support the narrative delivered through audio logs and text notes.

Through out the entire single player campaign, the world held together and did its part to maintain the fiction. Even situations that surely could have glitched, like decomposing a bridge I was standing on, held stable and found a way to resolve. It admittedly feels a bit silly to commend a game for holding together and presenting clean code, but the level to which this game overcomes expectations as a sub AAA shooter is a welcome surprise.

There were just a few times where the good design practices managed to elude me. There was at least one instance where I just didn't see the much needed pickup in the area to defeat the next set piece. Chalk that up, though, to my overall inexperience with first person shooters. For your time, Singularity manages not to waste it on unmanaged difficulty and design.

Overall - 9/10 "Easily Recommended!"

For sci-fi fans and anyone with at least a passing interest in First Person Shooters, I've got to recommend checking out Singularity and its single player campaign. As a rental, it'll take you roughly a weekend and the pacing really lets you run it straight through without much shooter fatigue. Also, as gamecraft goes, there's nothing to worry about here. Rock solid execution backs up a really enjoyable play experience.

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