First Shot: Singularity
Bioshock was a wonderful game in an even more wonderful setting. Half of the fun of it was wandering from room to abandoned room, just soaking in the atmosphere. Singularity is Bioshock without the atmosphere. The rooms are similarly littered with notes and cassette tapes, but the writing is so bad that I hardly want to listen to them. Remember those weird phase-out moments in Bioshock where you saw ghostly visions? Singularity has those too. Lots of them.
Call of Duty 4 was an excellent shooter with a couple of compelling twists, and plenty of memorable set pieces. Singularity borrows so heavily from CoD4’s visual language that several scenes gave me déjà vu. Also, the shooting was worse.
Dead Space crawled with eerie mutant monsters that were contorted at unnatural angles and who scurried in vents, perpetually barely out of sight. There have been a handful of eerie moments in Singularity so far, but the game seems bizarrely set on dissipating any potential tension by keeping me thoroughly forewarned of each impending attack. At one point I entered a decrepit building, and some creepy little girl giggled. A ball bounced slowly down the stairs. It was pretty scary. But just in case I was feeling nervous, there was a note from her parents about how their kids had turned into monsters, a tape cassette about how the children had turned into monsters, and a padlocked door with a pistol sitting right beside it. Oh gee, I wondered, could there perhaps be some monsters in this room? And what do you know, there were. This was the big reveal – the first sighting — of Singularity’s version of necromorphs.
The multiplayer isn’t bad. As far as I can tell, all of the games are humans versus monsters (or whatever this game calls them). There are the usual death-match and objective-based modes. So far I’ve had better luck with the humans, but that could be because I’m more used fighting with guns than with the ferocious powers of the headcrab. That’s the most interesting part, by the way; you can be a headcrab. It’s really disorienting. You crawl all over the ceiling and walls, eventually leaping onto unsuspecting humans below. But the walls are so much like the ceilings, which are so much like the floors, that more than once I lost my sense of up, and was alarmed to discover people walking on what I had been sure was the wall.
I’ll have a complete review up next week. So far Singularity strikes me as middling and derivative. But hey, there’s plenty more game to go.