I don’t suppose many people remember Sin, and those that do probably remember it as an okay first-person-shooter with nice scripted moments and an attractive female villain with big breasts. Sadly, this wasn’t enough for a game that came out in the period between Quake II and Valve’s visionary Half-Life. After the latter’s tightly woven narrative, thick atmosphere and brilliant AI, Ritual’s game seemed rather simple and samey – an effective run-and-gun action game, but nothing revolutionary. I doubt it would turn up in anyone’s list of ten-best FPS games.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Ritual from getting together a long-delayed sequel, and this time Valve has provided the technology, in the shape of its Half-Life 2 powering Source engine, and also the means of delivery – Steam. The revolutionary thing here is that the game is episodic; delivered in five to six hour sections over Steam for a reasonable $20 asking price. Emergence is the first episode to ‘air’.
And guess what, the breasts are back.
In fact, the breasts are the very first thing you see, only just constrained in a lacy black bra underneath a suspiciously open red jacket. This instantly tells you the sort of game this is. But if you don’t get the hint, another comes five minutes later with a dream sequence featuring the kind of bikini that even a Brazilian might find immodest. Want another clue? Even your spunky female partner seems to be wearing a G-String. In other words, Emergence is interactive entertainment for boys – a kind of Half Life 2 for the Nuts readership. It’s fast moving, thoughtless and woefully linear. It hardly contains a single new idea in its entire running time. After Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R. and Call of Duty 2, it actually seems like a deliberate step backwards. But, goodness me, isn’t it fun.
Now, to be honest my first impressions weren’t actually so favourable. Early on, Emergence seemed tired – the kind of second-rate FPS you can just about enjoy, but only on the most basic, mechanical level. The story itself starts off well, with our hero – Blade – at the villains’ mercy and injected with a mysterious substance, but after a rapid rescue it feels too much like business as usual; just another sequence of corridors, industrial facilities and crates, with enemies patrolling mindlessly and occasionally popping out to be shot.