I’m not a huge First Person Shooter (FPS) fan, though the occasional one does grab my attention. I’m more into the First Person Sneaker (FPs?!) genre. However, for the mega-long weekend here (Easter, plus ANZAC Day) a friend loaned me a stack of FPS style games.
The one that has grabbed me most so far is Singularity. By that, I mean I’m still playing it, and the setting has me thinking about it away from the game.
In many ways it reminds me of BioShock; not in its setting, but in the way it begins and sets the mood. As in BioShock it starts slowly and gives hints to the back-story of the place you’re now trapped. Except I think Singularity does it better.
It’s actually a fair time until you meet some of the enemies. Singularity spends that time slowly doling out bits of back-story, and building the atmosphere – letting you know that there are enemies out there. They do this very well to the point that meeting your first enemy is both a shock and a relief from the tightening tension.
Unlike many FPSs, or in fact just many games, this isn’t the game’s cue to release the hordes and start mindless gunning down of the enemies. You know the enemies are around, you can hear them, but they don’t just appear in waves. In fact, sometimes they don’t appear at all, so when they do appear, it’s almost a fresh shock.
Later in the game, when new enemies are introduced, you only get to see them – they don’t immediately attack. In fact, you go through several areas where you see them, but they either don’t, or can’t, attack. When they finally do, you’re either ignoring them, or wound more tightly than a drum. For me, it was the latter, and it was enough to make me yelp!
Singularity has another interesting trick up its sleeve to help build the tension and build the story. It has a unique type of flashback where instead of living something that happened in the character’s past, you see visions of the past instead. It’s one these that give the first view of one of the enemies.
Beyond the story and atmosphere, Singularity works well as an FPS. Weapons, and ammunition, are reasonably plentiful, but not so much you can just go in “guns blazing”. They’re powerful enough to do the job, and not so powerful that the enemies present no danger. It also introduces a new weapon/tool: the Time Manipulation Device (TMD). This allows objects (and people!) to be aged or renewed, and adds more functionality later. This introduces more of a puzzle element, reminding me more of the Half-Life series.
The puzzles don’t overwhelm, but they do mix up the game a little, which I think are two good things, especially this far into the game.
I’m not sure if I’ll finish Singularity but I’m glad I’ve had a chance to play with it. Sometimes it’s good to play things you wouldn’t normally. In this case, I’ve had a nice surprise.