Making a first-person shooter that stands out from the crowd must be tough these days. Particularly if it’s being published by Activision who, with Modern Warfare 2, is set to unleash the sequel to one of the most successful first-person shooters of all time. Consider that Activision is also publishing the remake of Wolfenstein, the game that pioneered the genre, and you have to feel a bit sorry for Raven Software, gamely attempting to gatecrash the party with what marketing skunks glibly refer to as a “new IP.”
As for the story of the game, it’s complicated, but we’ll take a stab at the basics. You’re an American fighter pilot on a recon mission when something goes awry and you crash on a remote island. The good news is you survive. The bad news is that the island is subject to the kind of strange goings-on that make an episode of Lost look as mundane as a weekend in Hawaii.
Since a Cold War experiment in 1950, the island – Katorga-12 – has been quarantined, largely due to the presence of the mysterious Element 99, which Stalin was experimenting with as a possible power source. Or at least one of his scientists was, before it all went tits-up with a catastrophic event on par with Chernobyl.
However, rather than giving radiation poisoning to Welsh sheep, the upshot of this particular blunder was a rip in the space-time fabric resulting in some time-travelling shenanigans. Luckily you’re equipped with a handy Time Manipulation Device (TMD), which enables you to tamper with the properties of time on a localised basis.
A number of games have attempted the old time travel shtick, but according to producer Kekoa Lee-Creel, Singularity takes a different approach. “We’ve seen other time games and they’ve had almost like a VCR function, rewind, fast forward, record, that sort of thing,” Lee-Creel explains. “So instead of doing that, the direction was more ‘What if you could actually see what a physical item looked like 50 years forward, 50 years back, and play with that notion?’”