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SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC) artwork

SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC) review


"One of the things that bugged me about Half-Life 2: Episode One, the only other current attempt at delivering a game in episodes rather than a single installment, was that the game didnít end. Let me clarify that. Half-Life 2: Episode One left a lot of questions unanswered. I felt like the developers were just teasing players with a throw-away ending, expecting you to pay for the next two installments of the series if you want real clarity. I expected some suspense. I expected to b..."



One of the things that bugged me about Half-Life 2: Episode One, the only other current attempt at delivering a game in episodes rather than a single installment, was that the game didnít end. Let me clarify that. Half-Life 2: Episode One left a lot of questions unanswered. I felt like the developers were just teasing players with a throw-away ending, expecting you to pay for the next two installments of the series if you want real clarity. I expected some suspense. I expected to be left confused. But I also expected some finality. As much as I did honestly enjoy Episode One, it made me a little skeptical to bother playing through Sin Episodes: Emergence. I didnít really like the first few levels, and I didnít want to get to the end and find there was nothing there but a teaser for the next installment that I might not even want to play.

Out of nowhere, a strange thing happened: after a few very boring beginning levels, Emergence picked up and became a really good game. Instead of tired, generic dock levels, I was running for my life through an office building, having to use pillars, desks, cubicles, and any other objects as cover while I desperately blasted at foes. Instead of a boring sewer level, I was now risking life and limb as I worked my way up the side of a building, perched high above the city below, a mere wind gust away from an incredibly awful death. And all the while, Emergence delivered some potent, high-speed combat. It felt at times like I was playing a multiplayer shooter because of the pace. It was kill-or-be-killed. Shooting for anything but headshots wasnít an option, unless you had the shotgun out and could afford to be a little less accurate. Emergence was a rush.

But, much like Episode One, Emergence ended as soon as the rush began. Maybe thatís another thing that bugs me about episodic gaming Ė the episodes end too quickly. If I started playing this series in two years, it wouldnít bother me, but now I have to wait a few months to get back into that fast-paced, tense combat that I loved so much. Thankfully, Emergence offers a very awesome Arena Mode where you can challenge computer controlled bots to battle. Unlike standard deathmatch mode, there isnít a specific amount of foes youíll go up against, or a kill-limit that youíll easily surpass after a few rounds. Arena Mode in Emergence challenges you by not only making you go it alone against dozens of enemies, but the enemies get progressively stronger as you play. So if youíre kicking the computerís ass, the computer will increase its skill level and start kicking yours. If the computer feels like it is being a little unfair, itíll lower the difficulty level, but only after it tells you itís going to lower the difficulty level to make you feel less manly.

The only problem with this mode is the lack of real weaponry. Emergence only lets you wrap your fingers around three weapons Ė a pistol, an assault rifle, and a shotgun. While these are certainly effective devices, it would have been nice to have a little more variety. These are the only weapons youíll get during the single-player campaign too, where youíre stuck with just the pistol for almost two of the four hours youíll spend playing. I can understand pacing the weapons out, and each weapon does offer a secondary fire, like a grenade launcher on the assault rifle, but two hours with just the pistol is almost cruel, and very boring. The game does try to offer a sort of Max Payne-esque bullet time through the use of mutagen containers that increase the heroís reaction time when he breathes it in, but half the time, the containers become victims of stray gunfire and their contents go to waste. When you do get to use it, the effects where off a little too quickly to be practical.

Itís that mutagen that makes up the bulk of the storyline. The game opens with the protagonist, a cop by the name of John Blade, strapped to an operating table. A very well-endowed brunette informs him that heís been injected with an exotic chemical. To find out what was in the syringe, Blade is going to have to track her and her business partner down. Blade will have to infiltrate their operations, and along the way, his sidekicks will spit a lot of technojargon at him that makes up a bulk of the dialogue in the game. But even if the game does fail in delivering great dialogue, it does have a great techno-pop soundtrack and excellent graphics.

Thereís much more to be seen from Sin Episodes. Fortunately, Sin Episodes: Emergence does a better job at closing the first episode than Half-Life 2: Episode One. While youíll still be left with a lot of unanswered questions, the whole thing felt a lot more complete, like you actually did something besides warm-up for the next installment. Sin Episodes: Emergence isnít perfect thanks to some very slow early levels that are excruciatingly generic (INVADE THE VILLIANSí LABORATORY!), but as far as an episodic experience goes, itís a good example of what I want. For the price, Sin Episodes: Emergence isnít a bad choice.

Rating: 8/10

asherdeus's avatar
Community review by asherdeus (August 22, 2006)

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