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If I Could Turn Back Time

Time-Bending ‘Singular’ Owes A Debt To ‘Aliens’

August 9, 2010
By Doug Elfman, The Game Dork

Like many shooting games, the vibe of "Singular" owes inspirational gratitude to the movie, "Aliens."

In "Aliens," Sigourney Weaver travels to a foreign land to engage in a hallway-by-hallway (close-quarters) battle against yucky aliens.

In "Singular," you portray a U.S. soldier who travels to a strange Russian island, where you engage in a hallway-by-hallway battle against yucky zombies (and well-dressed Soviet soldiers).

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What's more, you listen to another soldier tell you things like, "Stay frosty," which is literally a line from the movie "Aliens."

Why are you doing all this? In the 1950s, the Soviets developed amazing resources on a bizarre island, to create a weapon that manipulates time.

This time weapon is odd. When you shoot things with it, those things turn younger or older.

Fact Box

Top Ten New Games

Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, based on Amazon sales charts. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.

1. "Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty" (Blizzard Entertainment) for PC; rated "T" (blood, gore, language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol and tobacco, violence)

2. "Madden NFL '11" (EA) Aug. 10 pre-order for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PSP, PS 2; rated "E"

3. "Halo: Reach (Microsoft)" Sept. 14 pre-orders for Xbox 360; rating pending

4. "Madden NFL '11" for PS 3

5. "Super Mario Galaxy 2" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (mild cartoon violence)

6. "Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector's Edition"

7. "Final Fantasy XIII" (Square Enix) for PS 3; also available for Xbox 360; rated "T" (mild language, suggestive themes, violence)

8. "Just Dance" (Ubisoft) for Wii; rated "E 10+" (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)

9. "StarCraft Battle Chess" (Blizzard Entertainment) for PC, Mac; rated "T" (animated blood, gore, strong language)

10. "Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (mild cartoon violence)

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")

So, if you fire your time weapon at zombies, this will age them immediately, and they will turn into bone and dust in front of your eyes.

Other times, you must shoot decrepit, crumbling stairwells with this time weapon, making the stairwells reverse-age until they looks new once more, so you can cross them.

This time weapon is a unique device in games. I wish I had one to reverse the ravages of an entire relationship.

Sometimes, you travel through a rip in the fabric of time, sending you back to the 1950s on this island. That means, one moment, you're in the present day, shooting zombies and blobs. The next moment, you're back in the Fifties, shooting Soviet soldiers. The game seesaws between both of those eras.

My one real complaint: "Singularity's" increasing difficulty doesn't come with a good explanation. At the beginning, one shotgun blast blows off a human rival's arms. Later, I had to shoot a human soldier five times in the face with a shotgun in order to kill him. What gives?

A secondary complaint: During the whole game, you must look for ammo, First Aid kits and other necessary items lying on the ground or on Soviet desks. In other words, while you're constantly walking around this island, trying to survive, you're also staring at every nook and cranny of every gray office space to see if you can spot a box of bullets. That dulls things up a bit.

But "Singular" does succeed as an above-average horror game, with genuinely startling ghosts and sound effects that made me jump a little and feel sudden tingles of anxiety.

This is an earnest game. There is, however, one good contextual laugh in it. To make your guns kill better, you must find currency on the Soviet island, to buy gun upgrades.

Is it not ironically funny that you pay currency to upgrade weapons on an island run by Communist Soviets? I'm sure Lenin is turning over in his tomb.

("Singularity" by Activision for Xbox 360, PS 3, PC - Plays fun. Looks very good. Starts easy but becomes challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, strong language. Three and one-half stars out of four.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.

 
 

 

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