The price says "Budget" but the action says "Play me!" by Mike Chasselwaite

May 18, 2006 - Every once in a while we get a pleasant surprise when reviewing budget games. For the most part trying to find a great budget game is like going through a used bowling-shoe warehouse looking for something to wear to a job interview. Truth be told, there aren't any really "great" budget titles. "Good" is about the best you can hope for. So, like trying to pick up a girl at a bowling alley, lower your standards a little - or a lot - and learn to appreciate the treats we can find in the lower levels.

Like a hot-looking babe with rotten teeth, sometimes you've just got to make due with what you've got. Such is the case with SiN Episodes: Emergence, a "good" shooter that despite its limitations is a good time. It's a short time, but it's a good time. It's fairly easy to learn and the limited amount of weapons and moves give it more of an arcade feel. It's a great introductory first-person shooter. Beginners actually stand a chance. Even hardcores will find something to enjoy in this game whether it's to test their skills or to learn more about the characters that debuted in the first game, SiN back in 98.

John Blade is back. He's the hard-boiled cop that is determined to clean up his city and bring all the evil doers to justice. Needless to say, Blade has made many enemies along the way. The game opens with a bound Blade receiving an injection from his old nemesis. Before the situation escalates, Blades SWAT team burst into the room to rescue him while the evil Elexis and Radek flee the scene. Whatever they have injected him with seems to adversely affect him at on outset of the game. He attempts to locate his captors throughout the game in hopes of finding answers to his many questions. As you can probably imagine, you're not going to find many answers in this game. It's been eight years since the first game, things aren't about to wrap up now. You'll have to wait for the next episode…

Thankfully the storyline is somewhat forgettable. The affect that the injection has on Blade is no longer evident when the game hits its stride, and it's not mentioned again. The gameplay doesn't really require a storyline, as you know exactly what you must do in each level - reach the end alive. To accomplish this you will encounter several enemy guards where the adopted policy is kill or be killed. Armed with a limited range of weapons, your focus shifts as you assimilate Blade's personality. Gone is the smart-ass commentary that he delivered during the first game. In this version he's strangely silent which actually draws you closer into the game. You don't see Blade as a third-person character, you are Blade - in the first person.

System: PC
Dev: Ritual
Pub: Valve
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1
Review by Mike