SiN Episodes: Emergence

10Kill and repent.

Episodic formats were tried and scrapped several times during the past decade, the most notably successful of which was the Half-Life 2 series of episodic releases. Sin Episodes, a Source-powered sequel to an obscure shooter from 1998, tries the same approach with varying success. Unlike the other heavy-hitters of the late 90s – Quake, Unreal and Half-Life – the lesser known Sin has never managed to garner much of a fanbase.

That didn’t stop Ritual from trying to reboot their comatose franchise, and the old school Emergence does manage to stir up feelings of nostalgia. Perhaps the most innovative change here is the dynamic difficulty model, which gets tweaked along each level according to your combat performance. It’s debatable whether this is even necessary for the average Half-Life 2 player, but it does remove that ‘oh crap’ feeling when you’re one thirds through a game and realize it’s either too easy or too hard, and you gotta restart the whole thing.

But that was never much of an issue with the budget-priced ($20) Emergence. It’s an episode of a series, after all, so you’re looking at only a few hours worth of gameplay. It also means there’s not a whole lot of stuff to find and kill – four weapons (pistol, shotgun, machinegun and grenade), four enemy types (three guards, one mutant) and a bunch of levels that shift between dock, tenement and secret lab themes. The action, thankfully, is fast and explosive – very much Half-Life 2 in its presentation, although the level design in Sin isn’t nearly as creative.

But SiN Episodes is a worthy game in the retro sense. It won’t turn many heads with its cliched storyline and formulaic gameplay (“oh wow, explosive barrels”), but as far as an action game consumed in bite-sized mid-afternoon portions, you could probably do worse.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 128 MB Video, Win2000

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