Singularity was inspired by the childhood memories of Raven Software co-founders Brian and Steve Raffel. Not the protagonist's ability to age people until they turn to dust or revert them into pre-human creatures, but the idea of exploration.
"This game from the life experiences of the Raffel brothers," said Brian Pass, senior producer at Activision. "They wanted to bring a lot of the things they experienced as young boys into the game.
"One of those was the cold war, the second big thing was science fiction and finally exploration. When they were young boys they loved to explore buildings in their town."
In Singularity, you take on the role of Nate Ranco, an air force pilot sent to a secret Russian island to investigate the radiation coming from the location. Once he arrives, he discovers that the Russians were experimenting with an element that could manipulate time when something went wrong putting the whole island in a state of time flux.
Not exactly a recreation of young children exploring abandoned buildings, but it does a manage to capture a bit of that. That's because as players work their way through the game the settings shift constantly between the island's populated buildings of the 50s and the rusting buildings of present day.
There's a lot of exploration, experimentation and fiddling with rusted bits of metal and broken machines to figure out how to make them work again.
And the Time Manipulation device, which Ranco discovers early on in the game is an important part of that. With the TMD, Ranco can send many of the objects on the island forward and backward in time. So if he uses it on a rusted out, dilapidated bridge, he can move it back in time until it's new and usable. Or he can send a new bridge so far forward that it rusts and falls on enemies. Ranco can also use the device to age cover until it falls apart, or even age enemies until they turn to dust.
Sending an enemy back in time will turn them into a sub-human "revert" which will attack the first thing it sees, be it an enemy or you.
The TMD can also freeze an object in time and move it around, allowing you to use it like a gravity gun of sorts. Finally, the device allows you to send out a shockwave that can knock nearby enemies and object back.
All of these features and the inclusion of the raw time-shifting elements can make for some interesting strategies. You can, for instance, explode a container of the stuff to create a temporary bubble of frozen time space. It can then be detonated to obliterate everything inside of it.
Early on you also receive an E99 Revolver. The handgun uses the element to let you slow down time and manipulate the bullets in flight.
And it's not all about fights, The TMD is used quite a bit to figure out how to get around things and achieve objectives. For instance, in one section of the game I played, I had to use the TMD to repair and raise a sunken ship. Because the effects of the TMD aren't permanent, Ranco then had to run through the ship to achieve some goals as the ship rusted around him and started to sink down again.
The game, which was set for a Christmas release, won't be coming out until next year. That's because Activision didn't want to crowd Modern Warfare 2's release, they told me.
"With Singularity being a new IP we wanted to give it its own space," Pass said.