You can love or hate episodic content, but you’ll have to give it this: at least you save a few bucks if you buy something you shouldn’t have. SiN: Emergence as currently available on Steam, packaged with SiN 1 and SiN 1 Multiplayer, falls snugly into that category. Never mind that $5 should be good value for money for any playable FPS created in Valve’s source engine.
SiN is missing everything that makes other Source products like Half-Life 2 shine even though it is clear they have tried to emulate everything we know and love from that title. There is the male, silent protagonist but unlike Gordon Freeman, nothing in the game makes you proud to be him. There is the female sidekick that urges you but she’s nowhere near the cute girl next door Valve created in Alyx Vance and her comments are, unlike Alyx’, generally useless and poorly timed during scenes that have the scenery exploding.
SiN has the same physics engine, but no gravity gun, nor anything else worth mentioning or fun in the armory. HL2 suffered from some railroading, but I didn’t care, since I was curious about where the story would take me, in SiN I find myself waiting for the end of a narrow track more than anything (and knowing I’m playing episodic content, I can be sure I won’t even get that). Top it off with pointless and flat extra characters and unimaginative enemies (that remind you of the zombies in HL2, in a bad way) and you have a game that I didn’t even want to play all the way through.
The developers seem to have been aware of this, since they felt the need to open the game with a cinematic sequence that have a pair of enormous breast at the center of attention. Great use of the Source engine there, as far as trying to sell a game goes, but a fairly desperate bid for the attention of the player.
Replaying HL2 for the 10th time, or trying most of the other available FPS titles on Steam will give you more value for money than SiN, even at $5. Don’t touch this with a 10-foot pole, or a gravity gun for that matter.