Summary: The first chapter of the highly-anticipated SiN Episodes is here, and JCal takes a break from his interview feeding frenzy to get a dose of SiN!
There were two big problems with SiNís released, however. One was that the game shipped with show stopping bugs that forced Ritual to issue a patch that was considered massive for the time period. The other bigger problem was Half-Life. Valveís own Quake engine based first person shooter was released at the same time and got massive critical and sales notices and got most gamersí attention.
SiN, however, still has a loyal fan following to this day. The gameís publisher, Activsion, released a expansion pack for the game, Wages of Sin (developed by 2015) in early 1999. A few years later, ADV Films released an original Japanese anime movie based loosely on the game that became a huge success on DVD. Now SiN fans and gamers in general can return to Ritualís original creation in the newly released SiN Episodes: Emergence.
Ritual is taking something of a risk with this game. For one thing the company doesnít have a big publisher pushing SiN Episodes like Activision did back in 1998. An even bigger risk is that the game is just the first chapter in a projected nine episode series of brief (four to six hour) games designed to be released around every few months. However, Ritual does have the backing of, ironically enough, Valve. Their once former rival supplied both the Source engine as the graphical basis for SiN Episodes and is also providing Steam, their online content delivery system, to distribute SiN Episodes via the Internet (you can also buy SiN Episodes the old fashioned way in retail stores on DVD).
For fans of the original series, SiN Episodes: Emergenceís opening scenes are something of a surprise. Instead of starting at the beginning, players find themselves playing the lead character, HARDCorps Commander John Blade, smack dab in the middle of an ongoing story in SiNís futuristic Freeport City. Blade has been captured by SiNís main villain, Elexis Sinclaire (who apparently survived her fate at the end of the original SiN game) and is on a gurney at the beginning of the game and shot up with some kind of substance of Elexisí design. Fortunately, you are quickly rescued by your new HARDCorps partner Jessica Cannon while Elexis and her associate in crime Viktor Radek escape. The rest of the game is a frantic flurry of action, as you go after both Radek and Elexis to try to find out what they are up to.
The initial portions of the game seem rather repetitive, as you are firing at the same enemies over and over again, but in the second half things pick up with a fresh injection of foes. The action in SiN Episodes Emergence will keep you on your toes all the time and you certainly wonít be bored, even if the game only lasts four to six hours. Even still, there are only a few enemy types overall and only three weapons in this first chapter (pistol, shotgun and machine gun,) although each does have a more powerful secondary firing mode. Ritual has set up a difficulty system that you can adjust to have the game be not only harder or easier, but also to set up how the game compensates if you find yourself going through some tough spots.
Visually the game has a comic book art style so donít expect the hyper-realism of Half-Life 2. Again, the game doesnít have a variety of enemy characters but the designs are solid as is the level design and textures. As with the original SiN, there is a lot of interactivity and level secrets in the game and the physics engine is put to good use. Flammable tanks that are scattered all over the game that can be use to take out enemies (apparently in Freeport gas tanks are a new design choice) and there are mutagen tanks as well that you can shoot to breath in its vapors and thus slow events down temporarily to get an edge on the bad guys (donít breath in too much or it will sap your health).
The game is not perfect, however. We do think that more story elements could have been used to flesh out the plot more. Quite frankly we were confused as to what is going on with John Blade (how did he get captured in the first place? What was he injected with?) Also, while we wonít give away the ending of this first chapter, it did end somewhat abruptly with no real degree of suspense or tension. Also John Blade himself rarely speaks in the game and we would have liked to have heard more from him. Finally, while the AI of the enemies in the game isnít bad, the AI of your partner Jessica Cannon when she joins you briefly for firefights is horrible, getting more in the way than offering actual help.
Action Packed Gameplay
Not quite long enough
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