This generation has been marked for the number of games that let players manipulate time. From the instantly forgettable TimeShift to the divisive F.E.A.R. 2, time has been the go-to mechanic for many a “next-gen” developer. Even racing games have meddled in time: GRID allowed players to rewind time and retry their rubbish driving. It’s all The Matrix’s fault, of course. Before Neo had even landed after dodging that Agent spray of bullets in the skyscraper rooftop scene, game designers were no doubt working out how to get it into their games. The question is, are we bored of time manipulation? Is it time for a change?
Raven Software doesn’t think so. The two games it’s showing off at Activision’s pre-E3 event both have time manipulation in one shape or form. Wolfenstein lets you slow down time in order to better deal with the game’s occult Nazi bad guys (check out our hands-on preview here). In Singularity, time is once again the headline feature, But, Raven insists, this time it is different. This time we should care about time.
It’s all down to the Time Manipulation Device (TMD), Singularity’s Gravity Gun, if you will. With it you’re able to time revert and age not only objects, but enemies too. Take, for example, a simple broken crate. Fire the TMD at it with it set to revert, and it’ll go back in time, magically reforming in front of your very eyes. Now you’re presented with a brand spanking new crate, straight off the video game crate conveyor belt. And what are crates for in video games? For breaking, that’s what. So you break it. And what do you find in crates in video games? Ammo, that’s what. Wala.
That’s reverting, but what about ageing? Picture this: you’re faced with a group of enemies dug in behind impenetrable cover. Normally in games, you’d need to flank them or lob some grenades to flush them out. In Singularity, you won’t need to bother. In Singularity, you’ll be able to fire the TMD at cover, age the brick or metal or whatever the cover is made out of and watch it crumble. Cue the panic of bad guys as you show them the meaning of the term “sitting duck”.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to come up with some pretty cool applications of the TMD. Staircases can be rebuilt and walls can be crumbled to open new passageways. In fact, a decent chunk of the game will be puzzle solving, with ageing and reverting key to progress. At one point you’re able to channel power from two Time Rods and time revert ruins into an entire building that becomes a brand new area to explore.
You’re thinking, “What about the enemies? Can I turn battle-hardened soldiers into babies? Can I turn chisel-jawed marines into bones and ash?” The answer is, rather excitingly, yes. Hit an enemy soldier with the TMD and you’ll do one of two things. Revert it and it transforms into a Zek, a beast that looks like a Feral Ghoul from Fallout 3. While not quite as cool as a baby, and, technically it doesn’t make much sense, a Zek has its uses. It’ll attack anything on sight, including enemy soldiers. You get the idea.