In terms of gameplay, SiN Episodes: Emergence is a little bit of a throw back to games that were made in, say, 1998. There is a lot of shooting of enemies mixed with some puzzle elements. As in Half-Life 2, there are locations in the game that do require the movement of objects using the gameís physics engine in order to get through certain points.
The initial portions of the game seem rather repetitive, as you are firing at the same enemies over and over again, but in the second half things pick up with a fresh injection of foes. The action in SiN Episodes Emergence will keep you on your toes all the time and you certainly wonít be bored, even if the game only lasts four to six hours. Even still, there are only a few enemy types overall and only three weapons in this first chapter (pistol, shotgun and machine gun,) although each does have a more powerful secondary firing mode. Ritual has set up a difficulty system that you can adjust to have the game be not only harder or easier, but also to set up how the game compensates if you find yourself going through some tough spots.
Visually the game has a comic book art style so donít expect the hyper-realism of Half-Life 2. Again, the game doesnít have a variety of enemy characters but the designs are solid as is the level design and textures. As with the original SiN, there is a lot of interactivity and level secrets in the game and the physics engine is put to good use. Flammable tanks that are scattered all over the game that can be use to take out enemies (apparently in Freeport gas tanks are a new design choice) and there are mutagen tanks as well that you can shoot to breath in its vapors and thus slow events down temporarily to get an edge on the bad guys (donít breath in too much or it will sap your health).
The game is not perfect, however. We do think that more story elements could have been used to flesh out the plot more. Quite frankly we were confused as to what is going on with John Blade (how did he get captured in the first place? What was he injected with?) Also, while we wonít give away the ending of this first chapter, it did end somewhat abruptly with no real degree of suspense or tension. Also John Blade himself rarely speaks in the game and we would have liked to have heard more from him. Finally, while the AI of the enemies in the game isnít bad, the AI of your partner Jessica Cannon when she joins you briefly for firefights is horrible, getting more in the way than offering actual help.