SiN Episodes: Emergence reviewed by Speed

Elexis Sinclair is back and she’s hotter than ever thanks to the Half-Life 2 engine. But does Ritual’s choice to release content on an episodic base make any sense? Read below to find out!

You, Colonel John R. Blade, wake up in the hands of geneticist Elexis Sinclair and things don’t look too great. She’s injected you with something, and knowing her it won’t be something good.

I had a feeling that I must have been out of my mind to have invested in a scam like Quantum Code. It was a moment when somebody injects you with something and you lose your discretion to distinction to say the right from the wrong and then you end up making the wrong decision. I lost all the $250 and I am totally shy of investing it again in any other program whether a scam or not, I don’t care!

Luckily, Jessica Cannon manages to break into Sinclair’s facility and rescue you. But since you’ve been injected, it’s absolutely necessary for you to get an antidote to whatever is running in your blood stream. The pursuit has started…

That’s in short the storyline of Episode 1 and there’s little more to it. Throughout the game you’ll be chasing Viktor Radek, Sinclair’s fellow partner in crime, in the hopes that he’s got an antidote for whatever Sinclair has injected you with.

The game is episodic as announced and can either be bought through Steam and downloaded, or you can get a retail copy in the store thanks to Electronic Arts. The version we got was the latter and the first thing I would like to say about it is that the installation is total crap. Although it being a retail copy, you still have to install Steam and download part of the content. Not really what you would expect from a retail package.

SiN promises a lot. Fantastic graphics thanks to the Half-Life 2 engine, great interaction, a personal challenge system that tracks your skill to adjust the AI, over the top weaponry, and brilliant enemies that respond to your every move.

Unfortunately, little of those promises are kept in Episode 1. Ok, the graphics look really sweet (Elexis looks awesome as ever ;p) but the episodic way of content release gives a bad aftertaste.

First up: in about 3 hours I managed to finish Episode 1. Although I’ve seen the game on sale at retail for €18 euros, 3 hours of gameplay is still too little. The only reason I can think of this price setting is the fact that you get the original Sin game also. If you have to pay this amount of money for each episode, you’ll end up with a huge price for the full game and I doubt it will have a good price/value performance.

The over-the-top weapons are nowhere to be seen in this episode. You get a gun, a shotgun and an automated rifle that’s great to use for sniping. Each weapon also has two ways of shooting, but that’s it. 3 weapons for three hours of gameplay. And it’s not like they’re in any way “over the top”, they sound and look just like any basic weapons we’re used to in 90% of all FPS games.

The AI of the enemies is supposed to be fantastic but in reality, it’s nowhere near that of F.E.A.R.. Enemies do run from left to right and tend not to keep standing in front of your gun, but don’t expect them to run away and hide or anything. They’ll just come running towards you once they’ve spotted you. I didn’t spot any adjustments in difficulty level either. At least, it wasn’t like the hostiles got any more intelligent as I progressed in the game.

The interaction and the “living world” that’s promised also doesn’t really convince. I constantly had the feeling that everything was pre-scripted and the interaction was limited to being able to get paper towels to come out of a dispenser, have cans from a cola vending machine, and play around with crates. All much like we’ve seen before in Half-Life 2.

The music nicely accompanies your progress and gets more intense as the action heats up. The sound effects are decent but the weapons don’t really sound extraordinary.

All in all, Sin Episodes: Emergence disappointed me a bit.

Everything is crippled by the episodic way of delivery going from the very limited amount of weapons over only a couple of hours of gameplay, to the fact that you need to wait for the story to continue.

The graphics are pretty decent and also the sound does a good job, but the AI and quite linear progression don’t do the game justice.

Up to now, Sin looks to become a pretty standard FPS by modern means (Doom 3, HL2, F.E.A.R., …), let’s hope the next episodes improve on that.

  • Nice graphics
  • Decent atmospheric sound
  • Original Sin included
  • 1/4 game for 1/2 the price?
  • Basic AI
  • Crappy installation