The minds at Raven Software, responsible for Hexen, Heretic and Wolfenstein, have another hit on their hands with Singularity, a first-person shooter with some unique twists.
The game begins with an American black-ops military unit being sent to a remote, long-forgotten Russian island from the Cold War to investigate strange occurrences. You, as Capt. Nate Renko, are soon beset by horrid creatures from the past and present.
Throughout the game, Renko uses a time-manipulation device, because the island warps between 1955 and 2010 because of an experiment gone wrong. Renko must fight through the island and reverse the horrible course of history in this alternate time line. The story line surprisingly holds its own and is delivered well for a first-person shooter.
At its base, Singularity doesn't really introduce any new gameplay elements, but whatever it might have borrowed from past games, it nearly perfects. The entire game is built around two core components: shooting and the time-manipulation device.
The shooting aspect of the game feels solid, fun and rewarding: about what we have come to expect from Raven Software. Renko is given a fairly standard arsenal of weapons, including an assault rifle, a shotgun and a sniper rifle. This might seem dull and boring, but it works well. Each weapon is upgradable by several degrees, giving the player many options to use the rare and valuable weapon upgrade slots. By the end of the game, one player might have a tailored shotgun with incredible stopping power, and another might have an assault rifle that will reload almost instantly with an enormous clip.
Aside from the core shooting element, Renko must use the time device to manipulate the environment, enemy soldiers and time itself. This device creates lots of "wow" moments throughout the game and complements the shooting quite well. Renko can use the device to create a time-bubble, essentially a shield; age enemies far into the future, causing them to fade into dust; and shoot force fields from his hands. The time-bubble ends up being one of the most fun gameplay elements because it allows Renko to manipulate time in interesting ways.
About the game's only downside is its horrible implementation of save points. The game doesn't allow the player to save at all; it auto-saves only at certain predetermined points in the game. Sometimes these points are well placed, but other times this leads to frustration, because it forces players to replay the same sections over and over, sometimes forcing the same cut scenes to play many times in a row. Raven, please take note: Allow players to save whenever they like.
Singularity is most likely the best new first-person shooter out there and definitely one of the top shooters of this generation. The story is delivered well, shooting is solid and fun, and the time device is a blast to use. If you're a fan of first-person shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game.