Singularity Updated Impressions

You can't turn enemies into babies, but your time-bending powers in Raven's upcoming sci-fi shooter are impressive nonetheless.



Wouldn't the process of time reversal, when used as a weapon against an enemy, simply revert him or her back to an infant? It's a question that Raven Soft, the developers behind the upcoming sci-fi first-person shooter Singularity, might have considered at one point in the game's production. As it stands, using the time manipulation device (TMD) against an enemy will simply cause him to revert and eventually evaporate into dust. As we found out during our most recent look at Singularity at Activision's recent pre-E3 press briefing, your control over the time stream will result in encounters that are unlike most FPS fights.

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The level on display during the demo featured the downed USAF pilot Nate Renko--the hero of the story--exploring the mysterious Russian island that has been infected by the element E-99, which is the source of the time-twisting narrative. Your goal is to find your crashed plane and obtain the black box; to help you along, you're being guided through the island's dangers by Yuri, an old Russian soldier.

The TMD is the game's chrono-twisting heart, and as you explore the area, you'll need it as a weapon, as a means to solve puzzles, and simply to stock up on ammo. For instance, you might reverse-age a barrel, restoring it to its former explosive self, and then toss it at an enemy. Or you might reverse-age an empty ammo case so it ends up filled with a stockpile of ammo to replenish your supplies.

The TMD isn't just useful on objects; it's also a deadly weapon. You can use it directly on enemies, as mentioned above. Furthermore, you can use it to catch rockets or grenades in midair and fire them back at opponents. You'll also earn new gadgets as you go, such as a chronolight, which lets you easily find objects that can be manipulated with the TMD.

The highlight of the Singularity demo featured a chaotic firefight in which you have to use every TMD trick in the book to defeat enemies, including creating temporary time-stasis bubbles that can protect you from bullets. Enemies come in several varieties, and in addition to standard gun-toting baddies, you'll periodically run into Zecks, which are monstrosities that have a degree of temporal control themselves. Zecks can teleport from one spot to the next, which makes them tough to spot, and they can even briefly phase out of time, essentially making them impervious to harm for a brief moment.

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Between echo events--ghostly replays of traumatic events that occurred on the island during the 1950s--and using your TMD to completely restore the facade of a ruined building (with the help of a handy electrical boost), the game's notion of flexible time seems to be a central theme that will hopefully keep its first-person shooter mechanics feeling fresh. We'll have more on Singularity throughout the rest of the year, and be sure to check out the game during GameSpot's complete coverage of E3 2009.

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