GamesCom 2009: Singularity Hands On Preview - If I Could Turn Back Time
Written Monday, August 31, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
The roots of Singularity can be traced back to the childhood experiences of the Raven Software founders – the Raffal brothers – who grew up in the Cold War era. They were looking to bring the key elements of the conflict between the Soviet Union and the US to the table, whilst embroiling it in a tale of science fiction and exploration. Set in 2010, Singularity tells the story of a co-pilot of a spy plane that is sent to investigate the strange goings on at Katorga 12 – the scene of a cold war experiment gone wrong in the 1950’s. In the 50’s, as a result of a cataclysmic experiment involving the Russians and a material called Element 99 – a unique time manipulation element – the island was sealed off, records destroyed and removed from the maps for over 50 years. Singularity is played in two different time zones and has you flicking back and forth between the two, while you try to find out what happened, what they were doing back in the 50’s and why it’s coming back to the surface again in 2010.
As far as puzzle solving mechanics goes, Raven is looking to break up the fast paced and frenetic shooter gameplay by incorporating many of these into the game. On the one hand, you’ll be resurrecting dilapidated walkways so that you can walk across them, and on the other hand, they will have you restoring old pieces of machinery – like a rundown, rusted old lift – to get where you want to go. Obviously they don’t sound too overtly complex and that is simply because they are not... I mean there is only so much you can do with a mechanic that can either age things or restore them to their original state.
Of course, allowing that sort of free reign with a powerful device like the TMD would make the game seem imbalanced, right? You are indeed correct, which is why Raven has addressed that. The TMD according to Raven is limitless on smaller objects, like aging a shield or a piece of cover to dust, but when you use it against enemies, there will be a short recharge time in between uses. You’ll also have access to stasis bubbles, which stop your enemies in time for a short while, the E99 Revolver, which allows you to control your bullets after you’ve fired them, and the Chrono Light, which is more of a puzzle device than a weapon that allows you to access objects that have fallen out of your current time phase.
Raven are billing Singularity as the “thinking man’s shooter” but from what we saw, the action was a little predictable... age this, revert this back to its original state, destroy this bit of cover, drop this shipping container on their heads, etc. The TMD though is undoubtedly a fun piece of kit to take advantage of; and reverting your foes back to a primitive beast like state or a pile of dust never seems to get old. Is it going to be enough though to pull it out from the pack or is it just going to be another shooter with a gimmick? We look forward to finding out the answers next year.
Singularity is coming out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2010.