SiN Episodes: Emergence is a episodic shooter developed by Ritual Entertainment. It's a sequel to the first SiN game that was developed also by Ritual in 1998. It features a talkative protagonist named John R. Blade who is a member of HardCORPS, along with Jessica Cannon and JC Armack. The group is after Elexis Sinclair, a member of SinTEK who has created the drug U4. The game takes place in Freeport City. Released before the Half-Life 2 episodes it received fairly lacklustre reviews.
While planned as episodes the Ritual development team was acquired by casual publisher/developer MumboJumbo, along with the departure of several developers from Ritual. Although MumboJumbo have not discounted the return to the SiN franchise, it is unlikely that there will be anymore Episodes.
Blade's arsenal this time around is significantly smaller than in the original Sin. He's restricted to three main weapons - pistol, shotgun, machine gun - and can carry up to five grenades. Each weapon has an alternate fire and is useful enough that running out of ammunition for another weapon is rarely a drawback.
The pistol is extremely powerful and accurate, and the secondary fire launches a high power projectile that can penetrate several enemies in a row.
The shotgun has a clip rather than the manually loaded shotgun you find in most first person shooters. It's appropriately devastating at close range and can launch a flak-cannon-like blast as a secondary fire. That blast can be triggered almost simultaneously with the main fire.
Last, the machine gun functions both as an all purpose rifle and can be zoomed in for sniping. While powerful, it has significant recoil and can only reliably be fired in bursts.
Grenades are incendiary and will not cause death on explosion - they will, however, coat the surrounding area and any nearby enemies in flame, initiating a macabre song and dance before they collapse in a charred heap.
After sitting through a lengthy bit of exposition, you finally receive a gun and are free to proceed with the killing. Blade's journey takes him through many warehouses, a train loading platform and some docks and a lighthouse before discovering the secret entrance to (presumably) the first of Elexis' many lairs - this one belonging to her minion Roddick. It's similar in layout to the science labs found in the original Sin game, and after the complete destruction of the lab the final portion of the game moves on to Sinclaire Towers, an upscale and very vertical building that involves almost as much tiptoeing on the outdoor ledges as it does sneaking through the maintenance portions of each floor.
The game culminates with a battle on the top of the tower against an armed helicopter and a massive mutant, a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to what is likely the last Sin game anyone will ever see.
- High Rise
The game also included several interesting features/technology:
Although this feature never got the chance to see light, it is a unique possibility only available to episodic gaming. Ritual would make plot choices according to decisions that the majority of player's made while playing through the game. If aspects of an episode were not well received, Ritual would also be able to get rid of them.
The Source engine only allows models to be made out of one thing. For example, if a car has glass components, it would behave just like the metal on the car would. Ritual added extra technology to allow for more than one type of material to be used on a model.
SiN Episodes: Emergence also included a system dubbed "Personal Challenge System". The PCS alters the game to that of the player's skill level, by changing the difficulty, numbers, and type of enemies encountered throughout the game. At release, a bug caused the system to challenge players too much. However, a patch was released on May 17, 2006, which resolved the problem.
The difficulty level works by altering the accuracy and number of enemies and their equipment - the most notable change occurs if you score a number of headshots in a row, as the next group of enemies you face will be wearing helmets. The player can alter the speed at which the system responds if they'd prefer a more gradual increase in difficulty if they're playing well, although the reverse is also true when dying repeatedly and having the game ease off on you.
SiN Episode 2 has been announced and probably won't see the day of light. The reason? Ritual underestimated the cost of Emergence plus sales weren't high which means no money for the next project. Ritual found a new publisher, MumboJumbo, in 2007 who's focus is on casual games, not episodic first person shooters. Now SiN fans can only hope for more additions to the series.