Singularity Preview

By Jordan Douglas on May 17, 2010, 9:50PM EDT
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Singularity, being developed by Raven Software, is an upcoming first-person shooter that focuses on one core mechanic to separate itself from the crowd, manipulating time. At first glance, the concept sounds strikingly similar to 2007's TimeShift, a comparison the developers want to avoid. Singularity is looking to make a name for itself by providing players with a variety of ways to interact with the time mechanics, ideally creating clever puzzles and versatile combat as a result.

Being published by Activision - and therefore having access to the Call of Duty engine - will certainly help Singularity be successful, since Raven will be able to focus on the implementation of time alteration, without having to worry about whether the basic shooting feels right or not. Judging from the footage released so far, Singularity definitely looks like a game built from the ground up on Infinity Ward's engine.

In Singularity, players take control of a US operative sent to investigate a mysterious Russian island that has been giving off an abnormal amount of radiation. Your plane soon crashes on the remote island, leaving you to fend for yourself against hordes of mutated, human-like creatures. You soon discover that a catastrophe (the singularity) ripped apart the island in 1950 (2010 being the present day), killing most of the inhabitants and causing the mutations. The singularity accident also left the balance of time on the island in shambles. Players gain access to a Time Manipulation Device (TMD) that serves as the cornerstone of the game's combat.

The TMD gives players the ability to manipulate certain objects in the environment that were directly affected by the singularity, rather than TimeShift's mechanic of rewinding or fast forwarding time as a whole. Objects affected by the singularity can be moved using the TMD as a start. The main use of the device is altering the age of the object. For instance, a lock can be aged hundreds of years into the future, turning it into dust and granting you access to the room. This idea also works in the opposite way, decaying items can be restored by setting their age back hundreds of years - a canister that has long since exploded can be reused. The TMD can also alter living things. Enemies can be aged to death, or brought back to their mutated state, serving as a distraction to other foes.

Raven also plans to implement the time mechanics into various puzzles throughout Singularity. The game routinely shifts narrative between events from 1950 and those of the present, so certain puzzles will require players to, for example, provoke an incident in the past that will lead to a path forward in the present. Another example would be repairing a broken down machine that requires you to restore several hidden items in the environment.

Singularity introduces some interesting twists onto the standard shooter formula. Aside from the obvious TimeShift comparison, the game could have drawn some inspiration from the Lost TV series, in particular the unpredictable rift between the 1950s and the present time period. The time manipulation powers at your disposal do seem intriguing, but whether they alone are enough to carry Singularity out of obscurity remains to be seen.

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