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Platform

PC

 

Genre

First-Person Shooter

 

Publisher

Valve Software

 

Developer

Ritual Entertainmnet

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

June 2006

 

 

- A brainless shooter for those tough days at the office

- Runs great with the Source Engine

- Side jokes are in abundance

- The original Sin is included

 

 

- AI is spotty at the best of times

- Not much substance to the overall story; it should have hooked me!

 

 

Review: Half-Life 2 (PC)

Review: Half-Life 2: Episode One (PC)

Review: Darwinia (PC)

 

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Sin Episodes: Emergence

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

If you were at all curious, the Source Engine, the same muscle behind Half-Life 2's visuals and physics, models breast physics just fine.  That answer is provided to us in the first few minutes of Sin Episodes: Emergence, and provides just a hint of the kind of over-the-top violence, ridiculous humor, and brainless fun of the rest of the game.

 

sin episodes emergence          sin episodes emergence

 

Our hero, John Blade, bad-ass cop of Freeport, comes to while strapped to a table.  Being distracted by two breasts as big as his head wobbling in front of him, he is quickly injected with a mysterious something, but before he succumbs he's freed by Jessica Cannon, who seemingly specializes in the kind of "extreme prejudice" rescues that gamers want, nay demand, with their first-person shooters.  The so-called story rambles amiably from there, with a plot path littered with corpses, more than a handful of mutated creatures, and some guffaws along the way. (Check labels, signs, and the futuristic phone booths -- and keep your eyes peeled for the Dope fish!)

 

Emergence is the first in Ritual Entertainment's simultaneous attempt to redeem the original Sin (which was pretty much panned by critics and gamers alike) and episodic content.  While I didn't play the original Sin -- an oversight quickly rectified as the original is included with Emergence -- my understanding is that episodic content should lure the gamer along.  Providing some kind of massive cliffhanger usually does the trick. (See: ending, Half-Life 2.)  But the story isn't all that gripping and though there is a cliffhanger of sorts, it doesn't feel all that compelling.  What would make me want to download the next episode?  I mean, besides the obvious cleavage shots.

 

The atmosphere is decidedly Half-Life 2ish.  In the early going, I always expected Gordon Freeman or Dog to come smashing through a wall in some kind of twisted game crossover.  Emergence looks a lot like Half-Life 2, which isn't necessarily a bad thing; the graphics showcase a great amount of detail and the physics are still fun to mess around with.

 

In comparison to full-length games, Emergence sports a small number of available weapons, but almost without exception they are ridiculously over-powered.  The pea shooter handgun has a clip of 20-rounds and is 

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extremely accurate -- I've never scored so many headshots before, even with a sniper rifle.  Grenades are of the incendiary variety, meaning that when they explode, the surrounding environment and any enemies (that weren't killed in the initial blast) catch on fire.  The shotgun, with a molten-metal secondary fire can cut down almost anything with one shot.  And the automatic rifle, though wildly inaccurate at range, has excellent 

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stopping power up close and a grenade launcher as a secondary fire.  The preview of the second episode points to way more powerful enemies to contend with on a regular basis so we could see the number of weapons increase.

 

sin episodes emergence          sin episodes emergence

 

Emergence adjusts its challenge depending on how you play.  Plough through waves of enemies and their numbers and accuracy increase; get regularly killed and enemies start acting moronic or at least become easier to hit.  This actually happens -- it's not one of those things a developer promises then plays lip service to it.  Although I'm not in the know of how this works in practice, I'm guessing that it has to do with the amount of stat tracking.  Almost everything you can think of, from how many shots you've fired to the number of footsteps you've taken are all carefully tracked.  These stats can be uploaded to Valve's Steam service which is used to "make better games" whatever that means.  After discovering that all this information is tracked, I started being more careful with my shots to better my aim and conserve ammo.  I don't want the folks at Valve or Ritual or MI6 or Homeland Security, or whomever actually looks at these stats, to think I'm not such a hot gamer.

 

Rather than multiplayer, Emergence includes an "Arena" mode.  After setting a few variables, you pick an arena (a "closed" portion of the game) then try to survive against the onslaught of enemies.  Scores are kept and can be uploaded to the Steam servers, which is a good way to compare your skills against other gamers.  I have yet to really get into Arena, but being able to compare scores with other gamers is enough to get me to boot up the game on an on-going basis.

 

Finishing Emergence also unlocks a hardcore mode which turns off the ability to save.  While the game clocks in at about 5 - 6 hours from start to finish, I don't know anyone masochistic enough to undertake such a challenge.

 

Sin Episodes: Emergence is available at retail and via Steam for $20US.  This could make Emergence a budget title, which makes it among the very best of budget titles.

 

- Omni

(July 14, 2006)

 

sin episodes emergence

Believe it or not, this is the villain of Sin Episodes: Emergence, Elexis Sinclaire.  This picture is from a "vision" sequence.  She appears (almost) fully clothed throughout the rest of the game.

 

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