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SiN Episodes: Emergence
(hx) 02:53 AM CEST - May,29 2006

SiN Episodes: Emergence is an episodic first person shooter set in the SiN universe. You play the role of John Blade, commander of HardCorps, whose investigations into a drug operation and bank heist morph into uncovering a conspiracy involving biotech mega-coporation SinTEK. SinTEK is headed up by the beautiful and brilliant Elexis Sinclaire, whose experiments have caused a variety of strange mutations. The action takes place in the futuristic Freeport City, a mishmash of urban elements reminiscent of San Francisco, New York, and Tokyo all lumped together. As Blade, you will fight to expose Sinclaire's evildoing and prevent her from doing more harm to Freeport's citizens. Joining Blade on his mission are JC - a hacker with a secret to keep - and Jessica Cannon, a fiery sexy rookie who can find her way into any secure facility. Another new character in this episode is Viktor Radek, a local drug lord working with Elexis. He is the newest face among Freeport's local crimelords. Blade and Jessica suspect that he's somehow tied to Elexis, so they plant a tracker on him to find out what exactly he's up to. This is where ence picks up and he is kind of the main bad guy in this episode.

In terms of gameplay, SiN Episodes: Emergence features the familiar SiN run-and-gun mechanics. There is a lot of shooting of enemies mixed with some puzzle elements. As in Half-Life 2, there are locations in the game that do require the movement of objects using the game's physics engine in order to get through certain points.

This first episode offers only three primary weapons - pistol (Magnum), a shotgun, and a Assault Rifle. Fortunately, they all have a secondary firing mode - the pistol's secondary fire shoots off a DUAG (Depleted Uranium Anti-Gen) round. The shotgun's secondary fire also operates like the traditional shotgun, but it has the added edge of ricocheting projectiles and the Assault Rifle shoots a rocket-powered grenades. Each of these weapons has zoom capabilities, as well as a melee attack. You can also throw grenades, which are a lot of fun to play around with. As they explode, they'll set any flammable materials around them on fire - including enemies. So that makes them a great tool for clearing out rooms. The weapons, although there are only three really do their work very well. The gunplay is always visceral and fast paced. Considering that there will be a total of 9 episodes, I am sure we will see the return of the other weapons in the future.

In addition, there're a lot of the items scattered around the environments which can actually be used to take out enemies. There's oxygen tanks that fly around wildly when shot, taking out anything in their path. Then there are containers filled with mutagen, which, when punctured, release a deadly cloud that will heal mutants and hurt human enemies.

The game uses a reactive difficulty system that varies the game's challenge level according to your performance. In general, the difficulty for the game can range between 1 and 100. The first time you begin a new game, it starts you off at 20, unless you change it. As you progress through the game though, that difficulty is constantly refined and updated, so even as you get better and become more skilled, the game will remain challenging.

The enemy AI isn't amazing, but it does enough to bring a challenge. Sometimes I caught enemies staring at walls with their backs turned, apparently oblivious to all the gunfire. I also had multiple instances where these baddies tried to shoot me through the wall. The mutants are a much simpler breed resorting to charging straight at you in a suicidal attempt to eat your face. There was also a scripting bug which required a console command to move the game along - nothing that can't be quickly fixed, but that should have easily been caught by testers. There aren't many types of enemies either - basically three human types and four mutant types, one of those being a boss.

SiN Episodes: Emergence is a game that has the spirit but lacks the soul, and most importantly it lacks the insane audacity and over the top action movie feel. Firstly, the story isn't quite as engrossing as I had hoped. Secondly, in the original SiN game, John Blade served as the typical wisecracking action hero, delivering all too many ridiculous lines of dialogue. In Emergence, he's practically silent :( Lastly, the time frame of the game unfortunately is what's causing the downfall. At $20 dollars an episode, the game lasts from 3 to 6 hours depending on the level of difficult you choose. The cost of $20 for a 3-6 hour game seems a little steep. I think that a price tag of approximately $15 would be more reasonable. It really depends how you feel about spending a hard earn money on 3 to 6 hours of fun. All in all a game that has great potential but the next part has to be much better!!

related links: homepage, trailer, QUICK FIX for players getting stuck at U4_labs02, patch 1 notes, cheats, trainer +6, trainer +10 (#udate 1), buy game

System Requirements

Minimum: 1.2 GHz Processor, 256MB RAM, DirectX 7 capable graphics card, Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection
Recommended:  2.4 GHz Processor,  512MB RAM, DirectX 9 capable graphics card, Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection

snd: 4/5 - solid, decent voice acting (but why is Blade silent?), great music (Zak Belica, the theme song is called, its "What's the World Come To")
gfx: 4/5 - cartoonish look and feel of the original + vastly more interactive and physics-based environment (Source Engine), Jessica Cannon looks sexy, some low-detail textures, clipping errors
playability: 4/5 - lots of action, only five or six main enemies to fight and only three weapons, weak AI, uninspired story, no multiplayer yet (though Ritual promised to add SDK, Arena Mode, and Multiplayer later through a patch), free copy of the original SiN included, bugs
genre: traditional run-and-gun FPS
release: May 2006
developer: Ritual Entertainment
publisher: Valve Software
Overall: 72%

last 10 comments:

xxxx(03:01 AM CEST - May,29 2006 )
That's a good review. Pretty much right on all fronts.

miglaugh(11:54 PM CEST - Jun,01 2006 )

wish I had waited for the review before i payed for it... terribly dissapointed.

I'm waiting for a review on HL2:EP1, thats for sure.

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