Easter Eggs: Singularity

By Jonathan Barnes, 3 years ago
Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
On the heels of our very first "Easter Egg" game, The Saboteur, we're back again this week with our next offering, Singularity.

As I said in the comments of the first post, I pretty much had to flip a coin between The Saboteur and Singularity when deciding which game to feature as our first Eggo. I'm now incredibly excited to pull back the curtain to Katorga-12, the TMD, and Captain Nathaniel Renko.

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The Basics

Singularity is a first-person shooter from Raven Software (Wolfenstein, Quake 4) that places you in the shoes of the aforementioned, Captain Nathaniel Renko. As Renko, you play the (industry-standard) voiceless protagonist, sent in to investigate the mysterious Russian island of Katorga-12. Unbeknownst to you and your squad at the time, Katorga-12 was the home of many Cold War-era tests on a mysterious element known as E-99. After a disastrous accident, the Soviet Union disavowed all knowledge of the island, covered up its existence, and hoped that it would be forgotten. Now, almost 60 years after the initial accident, Renko's squad is being sent in to investigate a mysterious energy surge. As you can expect, things don't go as planned, and the mission veers wildly off course. As the story is one of the stronger elements of the game, I will simply say that, like Marty and The Doc, you accidentally alter history, creating a new future which you'll spend most of the game trying to fix.

Singularity was released in June of 2010 and received decent reviews (76 on Metacritic and 3.8/5 from our community).

The Hook

Let's talk about time. Time is your key, your tool, and your weapon in Singularity. While the game starts off as a pretty straightforward shooter, you are eventually bequeathed an object known as the "Time Manipulation Device" or TMD. The TMD allows you to age or renew various objects around the island. See a collapsed, dilapidated staircase? Hit it with the TMD to give yourself a fresh set of stairs. See an empty, broken supply crate? Hit it with the TMD to refresh it and fill it with supplies. Enemies behind cover? Hit the cover with the TMD to age it and crumble it to dust, exposing the enemies. This function can also be used on enemies to revert them to dust, or (as the TMD gains improvements) change them into mindless mutants who will attack anything and everything.

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The Achievements

There's nothing truly spectacular or offensive about the achievements in Singularity. There are pops for getting kills with specific weapons, completing missions/levels (these are many of the "Secrets"), uncovering collectibles with the TMD (way more fun than it sounds), and beating the game on various difficulty levels.

Now the bad news that may sour your day; Singularity features multiplayer achievements and the online community is very, VERY small. The biggest offenders/problem achievements are playing 100 public matches of Extermination, winning 25 public matches of Creatures v. Soldier, and winning 25 public matches of Extermination. If you take a peek at my gamercard you will find that those are the only pops I neglected to nail down... and I LOVE/LOVED this game.

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The Price

At the time of writing, gamers in the United States can pick up Singularity from Amazon for less than $12 (this pretty much makes you a kicker of puppies and hater of ice cream if you don't buy it at this price) and gamers in the UK can pick it up from Amazon for £15.50. As always, you can probably find it cheaper used, if that's your game.

The Verdict

I'm going to give Singularity the best praise I know how: It's pretty much BioShock (Xbox 360) -lite. Do you love a good dystopia? Katorga-12 can scratch that itch. Do you like a great story that is partially told through collectibles? Again, you'll find all kinds of plot-rich goodness by doing a bit of exploration. Interested in a very-solid shooter with interesting weapons and powers? You will be a kid in a candy store plowing through Singularity. This doesn't even take into account the upgradeable weapons and skills, the mutated residents, a voiceless protagonist guided by a radio mentor, a megalomaniac antagonist, and a final choice at the end. I would dare say that Singularity does just as good (if not better) of a job being BioShock than BioShock 2 (Xbox 360).

Grindy multiplayer achievements and a small online community aside, Singularity does a fantastic job standing above the fray of generic shooters. The pacing, combat, and story all make it a game that every FPS fan should pick up, especially if found on discount. While the game may not be perfect (it has its share of texture pop-ins, jaggies, and AI glitches), it is definitely an overlooked gem and worthy of being one of our Eggos.

If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.