Singularity: A throwback to the old-school FPS formula

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Are you looking to have some good old-fashioned fun with a shotgun and some demented baddies for less than $10?  Then I have the game for you! Singularity, a 2010 game by Raven Software and published by Activison, is a great first person shooter (FPS) which follows the old formula that made FPS the popular genre it is today.

FPS games weren’t always huge free-roam games like Borderlands. They also weren’t side-thoughts to multiplayer games like BF3 and MW3. They used to be well-design single player experienced that delivered high-tension, excitement-filled entertainment. They revolved around great level design that kept the player on a scripted linear sequence, varied enemies, areas and bosses, and awesome weapon progression.

By restricting the gameplay to a linear story and world, the game designers could exactly construct how the experience would unfold. These old FPS games usually lasted anywhere from 8 to 20 hours and were a ton of fun. The player was not stressed by inventory, decisions or repetitive side-quests. This formula worked for years and was used in many successful series like Bioshock, Half-life 2, FEAR, and Halo.

Recently, FPS releases include RPG elements, are open-world, or are half-baked and bland additions to multiplayer. When an FPS that follows the old formula comes out, I find it highly refreshing and enjoyable. Of course the game also has to be well made and polished. Singularity was one of those games.

Singularity did not do well upon release. A lot of high pull reviewers, *cough*IGN*cough,* said that the game was corny and “by-the-numbers” (http://ca.ign.com). The game flew under the hype radar and quickly dropped in price. I picked it up for $10 about a month after release.

I named Singularity my game of the year for 2010, putting it above a lot of big-hype releases like Halo: Reach and Mass Effect 2. I did this simply because it was one of the few games that year that I just could not put down. It was like the first time I played Halo CE. I was so engaged and entertained by Singularity that I played it twice in one week to get both endings.

What some people call corny for this game, I call genius. The game pulls inspiration from many successful game design strategies used before and uses a fairly common storyline and enemy combination. It’s almost like a tribute to all of  the great FPS games of my childhood.

The storyline puts US marines in an abandoned USSR base where time-manipulation and radiation from a broken reactor have created a horror-filled island that jumps through space time. It all revolves around an alien metal that acts as a fuel source and currency.

The game features a linear storyline that goes through noticeable stages of level design that revolve around the weapon progression. It has an unarmed Amnesia-style beginning, a shooter style section in offices and labs, a duck and cover style section outside on catwalks and highways, a stealth section in subways and sewers, and high-excitement sections with a mini-gun.

The game revolves around a device called the TMD, Time Manipulation Device, which gives the player different powers as you level it up. The player can also upgrade the main weapons using collected currency and switch their load-out at locker-style checkpoints. My favorite feature is that the game uses a health and power bar like Bioshock. I have never been a fan of regenerating health.

This game is great because these various “by-the-numbers” elements come together smoothly to make a unique and entertaining game. All of the mechanics are well-executed and add entertainment.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes oldschool FPS games. It is a one weekend playthrough, but as the game only costs $10, it is totally worth it.

You can visit my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/Vok250) to see footage of this game. It is one of my first videos so the commentary is horrible, but the footage is varied and well-edited. It shows many mechanics that I have not described here.