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Posted on May 31, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

SiN Emergence – Game Review (PC)

James Lombardi

intro.jpgUnless you really know your FPS games, it’s fairly likely you’ve never even heard of SiN. Those of you that do remember the game, this review isn’t likely for you – you’ve probably already bought this first episode (Emergence) in the new SiN series. This title is actually the first part in a proposed nine episode series. This is also the first real test in using a platform like Valve’s Steam to deliver episodic content.

In the game you play as John Blade, a commander in the HardCorps, a sort of elite law enforcement force. Of course, the law is slightly different in the futuristic Freeport City, so be ready to use plenty of lethal force. Emergence picks up four years after the events of the first game and you’re still trying to track down your old foes from SiNTEK. It’s worth noting that this game is very much for adults. The very opening of the game demonstrates the Source Engine’s realistic physics by displaying the barely clothed chest of a very well endowed woman directly in your face. This is followed shortly by a dream-like sequence of the same woman wearing even less (although not quite nude). To top off the sexual imagery, there’s a fair bit of adult language, and plenty of gory violence.

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Does this guy remind anyone else of Gil from "The Simpsons" or is it just me? I seem to keep playing games where a prime tactic is the use of fire…

For those of you that are still reading and haven’t run off to buy the game already, let me share a bit about the gameplay. Those familiar with Half-Life 2 have a good idea what to expect. SiN Emergence is extremely linear and scripted along most segments. However, I feel the experience comes off much tighter than its Source Engine big brother. For example, in the course of playing through SiN Emergence, I only stacked boxes once, and I think where I did it, I actually circumvented a puzzle I was supposed to solve. Playing through a similar amount of time in Half-Life 2 I was forced to stack boxes more times than I cared to count. The focus of SiN is on fast-paced adrenaline-pumping action and it certainly delivers on that count. Aside from a somewhat long introduction sequence that is intermixed with scenes of well-endowed females, once you pick up your first weapon the game kicks into overdrive and doesn’t stop until the episode ends.

When will ragdoll physics get old? I say never. You’ll see friendly warning signs all over the labs you travel through.

However, this brings up an important point related to the fact that the game is only the first episode of a long series. During the course of Emergence, you’re only going to have three weapons (plus grenades). You’re only going to face a handful of types of enemies. Emergence is similar to playing the first third or half of a typical FPS, which is why each episode is only $20. You may have the urge to complain about the limited weapons and enemy types, but keep in mind this "episode" isn’t meant to be more than the first four to six hours of a full game (and it’s already exceeded all of F.E.A.R. in enemy types).

SiN features an innovation on the “dynamic difficulty systems” you’ll see other games tout. When you begin the game, you’re offered a chance to adjust a couple of sliders to determine your game experience. The first lets you tell the game how hard it should react to your playing, and the second how much assistance the game should give you if you’re getting stuck at a particular point. There were some initial problems with the difficulty system becoming a bit unforgiving, but a patch (automatically downloaded thanks to Steam) has already been issued. If you go through the first section of the game very quickly dropping enemies with fast headshots, you’ll start to see more enemies appearing wearing shields that will protect them from a headshot (the shot will instead knock the helmet off, then opening them up to a headshot). In fact, the final stretch of the episode can get painfully difficult thanks to some tough heavily armored chaingun-toting enemies.

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