SiN Episodes: Emergence Review

Not too many people may heard of the original SiN, at least when the title released back in 1998. The game was supposed to have the graphical technology of Quake mixed together with a unique story and some fast action. Unfortunately for SiN, another game came out that year that accomplished all of the same and then some. Yes, the release of Half-Life maybe one of the main reasons for the overshadowing of SiN. With that in mind, it,s rather ironic to see the sequel to SiN being offered on Valve,s Steam network right along with Half-Life 2. Of course this time around Half-Life 2 was released over a year before the new SiN Episodes: Emergence, so this sequel should receive plenty of available attention.

Much like Valve,s upcoming episodic expansions for Half-Life 2, this new sequel to SiN is being released in an installment fashion. When it,s all said and done, SiN Episodes will feature a total of nine episodes spanning across the same storyline, so you can definitely expect cliffhanger endings on each episode up until the grand finale. Each episode is about five hours long, and there may be about six months of development time in between each realse. I,m not too sure how many people can sit through eight different endings that don,t reveal any answers to the story, but at this point it,s very hard to tell how the next couple episodes will pan out.

Just like in the original SiN, SiN Episodes: Emergence puts players back into the role of Colonel John R. Blade, a police officer in the futuristic world of Freeport City. The game starts out with Blade strapped to a table as the two main villains of the story are looking over him, which is all seen from the first-person perspective. Elexis Sinclaire and Radek, the two antagonists seen, inject Blade with a strange chemical before Blade,s new partner, Jessica, comes bursting in to save the day. The gameplay picks up from here as Colonel Blade and Jessica must break out of the facility to find out what was injected and what Elexis is up to. The story is somewhat simple and not very original, but due to the cliffhanger endings it,ll probably serve well to draw people back for the next episode.

One main problem with the story, though, is that these episodes are so short that you really don,t have any time to get to know the characters. In fact, you rarely talk to any of them throughout the course of the game. Occasionally Jessica or the tech geek back at base will hit you up on your radio to talk about mission objectives. Other than the times when you actually fight alongside Jessica or come face-to-face with one of the main villains, there,s really no talking going on to move the story forward. So it ends up feeling like a quick shoot fest with a shallow story hidden around its edges.

In fact, there,s really nothing unique about SiN Episodes: Emergence at all. The gameplay is very straightforward and resembles that of a traditional run ‘n gun shooter. Fortunately that,s not all bad, as the action is thankfully intense. The waves of enemies that you go up against do get annoying after a while, but it creates a very fast-paced style of gameplay that actually reminds me of something like Quake 3 at times. However it also starts to feel dragged out after a while of running down the same-looking hallways and shooting the same types of enemies over and over again. There are about six different types of enemies, including three types of guards and three types of mutants. My personal favorite is the guards that have jetpacks strapped to their backs. One shot to the pack and they go out of control all over the place before exploding.

It,s not just a small variety of enemies that makes the action get old after a while. Emergence only includes four different types of weapons: a pistol, shotgun, submachine gun, and incendiary grenades. Each gun does have a strange secondary fire mode. For example, the pistol can shoot two blue lasers that look a lot like a rail gun, the shotgun can shoot out what looks like darts, and the submachine gun has the traditional scope and grenades. It,s rather disappointing to see such a small arsenal in a FPS, but most likely developer Ritual Entertainment felt that such a short game didn,t need a whole lot of firepower.

Whatever is lacking in the gameplay is sort of redeemed in the look of the environments. A lot of the levels have you running down the same-styled corridors, but there are many that really stand out in the game. There are plenty of outside levels that take place mostly at warehouses and some in high-rise towers and beaches. In particular, the action sequences when you,re riding with Jesse in her car throughout Freeport City are a nice change of pace. In one such sequence you pull up to a routine checkpoint near the beginning of the game. The guard wants to know where you,re going, but Jessie refuses to tell him. So she ends up flipping him the bird and taking off through the gate. It,s a pretty neat sequence that really adds to the immersion of actually being in a large, futuristic city, and there are later times where you can climb back and forth between the seats of the car to shoot out of the windows.

Although the graphics in SiN Episodes are utilizing Valve,s Source engine, there seems to be some detail missing. Everything is well-animated, but some of the character models, among other things, are just too plain-looking. Overall it doesn,t look too bad; however it would have been nice to see the developers use the Source engine to its fullest by incorporating such features as HDR lighting or more intelligent AI. The AI system used here is poor, as the enemies hardly use effective cover and just come gunning for you. As bad as that may be, the game does include the same great physics as Half-Life 2, but it,s really nothing you,ve never seen before.

The sound effects, on the other hand, are excellent. You can hear every single bullet whiz by and ricochet off of materials. Also when killing an enemy from a long distance you can hear the detailed echo of their voices crying out in agony. Voiceovers are also done well, though not particularly well-written.

The first installment to SiN Episodes is really a tossup between wanting to know what happens next or completely quitting right away, because the gameplay is getting too old. For those of you who just love a quick shooter, running through Emergence at least once may be all that is needed to give you a quick fix. Otherwise, if you,re looking for a unique action experience, you,re not going to find that here. However, it has to be said that the episodic nature of these new SiN titles really leaves you hanging. You just have to ask yourself if you can sit through nine episodes of the same type of gameplay at $20 a piece just to learn what happens the next time around.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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