|Release date(s)||Ep.1: May 10, 2006|
SiN Episodes is the title of a series of episodic games for the PC that would have expanded upon the 1998 computer game SiN. A total of nine episodes were planned with only the first one released. Developed by Ritual Entertainment and powered by the Source engine, the first episode "Emergence" was the first computer game by a major developer to both be produced episodically and delivered over the Internet without the intervention of a publisher. This was accomplished through Valve Corporation's Steam content delivery system.
In 2007, Ritual was acquired by casual game developers MumboJumbo, stalling the franchise and leaving the future of the series uncertain. With the sale of Ritual to MumboJumbo and departure of several employees, all future development of Sin Episodes appears to be delayed indefinitely, if not entirely canceled. MumboJumbo has already tasked Ritual to develop "high-quality casual content."
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Arena Mode is a new single player mode and was designed to run a contest at E3 2006 as part of a promotion alongside Vigor Gaming. This high score mode is superficially similar to Max Payne 2's Dead Man Walking and Resident Evil series' The Mercenaries mode, where the objective is to survive as long as possible among the steadily spawning and increasing enemies. Unlike Max Payne however, there are time limits to the maps and it is possible to survive an entire round. The scoring system is also tied to the Personal Challenge System which runs at a much higher rate than in the main game. The challenge level changes every few seconds depending on the player's performance and the higher the challenge, the higher the rate of points that are accumulated. This mode was introduced into the game on June 26, 2006 with four maps available. An update was released on July 18, 2006 which included three further maps.
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Freeport City is a bustling, futuristic megacity with a population of 27,000,000 and described as a mix of New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Areas that are featured in Emergence include the Freeport Docks, Sintek Supremacy Tower, and Radek's hidden drugs lab on board a beached, derelict oil tanker.
- Colonel John R. Blade (player): Colonel Blade is the leader of HardCORPS and is "obsessed" with bringing Elexis to justice.
- Elexis Sinclaire: Elexis is the CEO of SinTEK Industries and wants to speed up human evolution. To do this, she has made a mutagenic drug called "U4". In 2010, UGO featured her among the 50 best girls in video games ("charming, brilliant, and an absolute fox with nigh-impossible proportions").
- JC Armack: "A HardCorps hacker with a secret to keep" Jessica calls him "Skeeve". His name is likely an allusion to John Carmack.
- Jessica Cannon: The newest addition to Blade's core team at HardCORPS, Jessica is able to infiltrate most secure lockups with ease. She is voiced by the actress Jen Taylor.
- Viktor Radek: Viktor Radek leads the Cartel, and is suspected of helping Elexis with U4 shipping. He is voiced by actor David Scully.
Ritual's original intention was to release an episode every six months that would cost US$19.95 and take around four to six hours to complete. A total of nine episodes were envisioned. Although originally released as a single-player game, various multiplayer modes were planned including co-operative and team based modes.
One of Ritual's main design goals with SiN Episodes was to offer interactivity, character-driven gameplay, emergent AI, and a plot reflecting the choices made by players through an opt-in statistics system that aggregates play data to a database: the intention that future episodes would thus depend on the choices that are made by each player.
SiN Episodes is built on the Source engine with additional technology added by Ritual.
- Community-driven outcomes: Ritual is considering using the trends of players to decide the plot development of the game in future episodes, a concept only possible with episodic development. If the majority of players make the same decision when faced with a choice, future episodes can be steered towards that outcome. Ritual explains, "if a feature is well-received by gamers, we might expand its role in the game, whereas aspects that aren't liked can be changed or phased out completely." At the same time they said, "we understand that it may be frustrating to not see 'your' outcome become a reality, so we’re still determining the extent to which this feature will be implemented."
- Multiple-material surfaces: The Source engine does not natively support multiple materials on a prop—in other words, a model can only be made out of one thing. If an object such as a vehicle includes glass it will behave like the metal covering the body, and if you add armour to a character it will behave like flesh, unless you set the entire character to be metal. Ritual has added technology to alleviate this and have different material types on the same model.
- Dynamic difficulty: Dubbed the Personal Challenge System, SiN Episodes adapts itself to the player's skill level and varies the skill, numbers and toughness of enemies faced in accordance the player's performance to ensure a suitable level of challenge as well as to help pace the player through the game, ensuring an even game length across all skill levels. Indeed, Ritual claims that a proficient FPS player and a brand new FPS player started at the same time and, despite their widely different level of ability, finished within a small range of time of each other. However, a bug present on release in the dynamic difficulty system caused the system to never ease up on players making it overly challenging and unforgiving. An update released through Steam on May 17, 2006 resolved this problem.
The soundtrack was composed by Zak Belica, then Audio Director at Ritual Entertainment, who had also composed the soundtrack to the original SiN. The "Emergence" soundtrack was available as a standalone item on iTunes soon after the release of the game on May 12, 2006. A CD version of the soundtrack was made available later in the year on August 18 and included two bonus tracks.
Unlike the disjointed electronic tracks which changed from map to map as in the original, "Emergence" employs a more focused approach by utilizing a central unifying theme underscoring other elements of the soundtrack. This method was inspired by the approach used by John Barry in the Goldfinger film and other James Bond style soundtracks. The central motif used was Jessica Cannon's theme, the song "What's the World Come to", sung by Sarah Ravenscroft.
- "Emergence Theme – In Her Clutches"
- "Jessica and JC"
- "SinTek Checkpoint"
- "Freeport Docks"
- "Enter the Tanker"
- "Radek and Elexis"
- "The Pit"
- "Supremacy Tower"
- "The Helicopter"
- "Emergence Suite"
- "What's The World Come To"
- "What's The World Come To (SinTek remix)"
- "Sin Episodes CD – Bonus Track"
- "Sin Episodes CD – Bonus Track 2"
SiN Episodes: Emergence received generally favorable reviews and currently holds the score of 75 on MetaCritic. As of January 27, 2007 the game has sold 150,000 units, enough to recoup development costs but not enough to fund a sequel.
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- Jason Ruymen (2006-07-18). "SiN Episodes: Emergence Update Released". Steam News. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
- Elexis Sinclaire - Hottest Girls in Games - UGO.com
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- Stylsy (2006-08-18). "SiN Episodes: Emergence Soundtrack - Now On CD!". Ritualistic. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
- badman & Stylsy (2006-04-25). "SiN Episodes Interview: Zound and Muzak". Ritualistic. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
- Zak Belica (2006-05-26). "SiN Episodes: Emergence music study". Music 4 Games. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
- Episodes "SiN Episodes: Emergence". Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- "Going Small - How the MumboJumbo Merger Will Affect Ritual". 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2010-07-04.