reviews\ May 30, 2006 at 8:00 pm

SiN Episode 1: Emergence - PC - Review

The original SiN (no pun intended) hit PCs nearly a decade ago. Offering cinematic gunplay, high body counts and great graphics courtesy of the original Quake engine, SiN was a fun shooter. However, the game had the unfortunate disadvantage of coming out at the same time as the first Half-Life, which came out in full force and swept SiN, and all games like it, under the proverbial rug. Ironically, SiN Episodes: Emergence (the first in a series of episode-based SiN games) is not only releasing using the Source Engine from Half-Life 2, but is available through Valve’s digital distribution platform, Steam, as well as through retail outlets in boxed form. The game takes a novel approach to episodic content, being the first in a series of short, story-driven games from the SiN universe. The game succeeds at being an engaging shooter with lots of action, but it unfortunately goes flat in certain key places.

SiN Episodes puts you back in the role of Colonel John Blade, the hero of the first SiN. Starting out, you’ve been experimented on by Elexis Sinclaire, the ruthless head of SinTEK (the multibillion-dollar corporation that you’ve been fighting against for some time), and she injects you with an unknown substance. You are then rescued by Jessica, your spunky new partner who looks like she came in first runner-up at a Joanna Dark look-alike contest. You have no idea what has happened to you, but you’ll hunt down those responsible to find out.

SiN Episodes: Emergence uses the Source Engine from Half-Life 2 with very nice results. The physics are very good, and you’ll often need to employ objects in the environment to gain access to other areas and take out foes. The game also never skimps on action, as it’s a shooting fest from start to finish.

Unfortunately, SiN Episodes: Emergence does have some nasty flaws. The story, while rife with twists and turns, is pretty lousy and doesn’t draw you in as well as it should. This usually wouldn’t be a huge problem (I mean, with the exception of a handful, shooters aren’t too terribly heavy on storylines generally), but given the episodic nature of the game, there should be more to draw you in for the next installment.

The action is also a bit repetitive, as you’ll fight the same enemy types over and over again through the game. The AI is also pretty weak, as the enemies will do the same predictable things time and time again, and are fairly easy to kill. It also doesn’t help matters much that you have only three weapons (the standard triumvirate: pistol, shotgun, machine gun) to choose from in the game aside from grenades. While the physics engine is impressive and keeps battles fresh, the game could use a little more variety.

Graphically, the game looks very good, with well-rendered characters and great-looking facial animations (courtesy of Source, of course). The rag-doll physics are also quite awesome, as nothing is more rewarding than tossing a grenade into a group of bad guys and watching them launch into the air.

The music is also quite nice, setting the mood well for the game and providing a good level of intensity throughout. The sound effects are crisp and clean, as well. The dialogue is well-written and well-acted, even if Blade is a little on the silent side.

In concept, SiN Episodes: Emergence uses a novel approach by presenting an interesting story-telling method through the use of episodes. However, the story itself is lacking and the gameplay grows redundant, leaving little incentive for all but the most hardcore SiN fans to return for episode two.

Review Scoring Details for SiN Episodes: Emergence

Gameplay: 7.0
SiN makes great use of the Source Engine, with realistic physics and destructible environments. Plus, there is no shortage of action here, with the gunfights never letting up from start to finish. Unfortunately, the limited enemy and weapon types make the game grow pretty redundant after a while, and the AI is pretty lousy.

Graphics: 8.0
SiN Episodes: Emergence looks very nice, with great-looking character models and detailed environments, as well as great physics effects. The lack of variety in enemies hurts the score a little bit, though.

Sound: 8.5
The music fits the game’s mood well, escalating with the action and changing dynamically when called for. The sound effects are also pretty clean, and the voice acting is nicely scripted and well-done.

Difficulty:  Medium

Concept: 7.0 
SiN Episodes: Emergence is an interesting idea, presenting the story in serial form. Unfortunately, the game’s story is not terribly compelling, meaning that some won’t buy into it enough to get the next episode.

Overall: 7.5
SiN Episodes: Emergence starts out great, with intense action and awesome physics. Unfortunately, the game grows very repetitive before too long, and will leave many players bored and wanting more diversity.


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