For Those Who Failed To Commit Every word of last month's opening instalment to memory, this brief synopsis should realign your mind and pave the way for an enjoyable trawl through the following infotainment. Hear this: SiN is being developed by Ritual Entertainment. Ritual Entertainment are based in Dallas and are essentially a dream team culled from a number of other developers, many from the Dallas area, where 3D action games are breeding like lice. Ritual used to be called Hipnotic Interactive, and their first project was the Official Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge Of Armagon, which, apart from being a bit of a mouthful, was highly fancied by those in the know. SiN is their first full game, it uses a version of the Quake engine, and it promises much. Got the picture?
Joe Selinske is the producer for SiN and joined Ritual about two or three months into the project, having previously worked with a number of the team and contributed to games such as Rise Of The Triad, Shadow Warrior, Terminal Velocity, Fury, Hellbender, Monster Truck Madness and CART Precision Racing. "Of all the games coming out, the 3D action field is the most competitive. It's also the most, I guess, lucrative right now," he says. As for the other developers in the region, Joe admits, "There is rivalry, but there's also camaraderie. We want to do the best we can as regards the competition, but there are some really cool ideas out there and we do actually want to play their games. So we kind of cheer 'em on while at the same time saying under our breath, 'Don't do as good as we do.'" With the close proximity of other teams, surely there must be some temptation to 'borrow' ideas?
"It would seem like people borrow ideas, but when you're in this kind of genre almost everybody thinks of the same type of thing but with a slightly different twist. So basically the collective consciousness of the area makes it look like we steal ideas, but really it's just a matter of people just trying to come up with good ideas. It's usually the implementation and the integration that makes the difference."
The story behind SiN plays a far greater role than simply filling some space on the back of the box, as plot development directly affects the game. Ritual have employed what they call Action Based Outcomes, whereby a certain act will have a knock-on effect in a different area of the game, to the extent that an entire episode could be missed out. Hopefully this will enhance the replay value of SiN considerably, thus enabling the phrase 'no two games will be the same' to be bandied about with gay abandon. As Joe explains, "We've been working on a fairly detailed story, developing the background of the characters, trying to really create our own universe. The hardest part in any 3D action game is trying to relate the story during gameplay, because most people are busy concentrating on the action. Like if you're playing Quake it's just intense, you don't want to think about anything, you just kind of go go go! That's why we're introducing JC, the sidekick. We want him to give you hints as well as relate what's going on around the game. He'll be there to offer you all types of information. We also want to do some in-game cinematics that will help to progress the story along the way."
With ION Storm's forthcoming Daikatana also featuring an extensive storyline, this could be the way forward, as Joe points out: "We have to start pushing the genre to the next level, we have to do the hybridisation. Everybody knows what an action game is. All the way back to Doom, we've seen a lot of action but not a lot of story. What we're trying to do with , our Action Based Outcomes will hopefully keep people intrigued. They'll want to come back and try different things in the game." Ritual have also adopted a fairly original slant regarding the weapons in SiN, hoping to achieve a greater balance than in Quake, where the rocket launcher is king. To this extent they're planning to employ different weapons for the multi-player and singleplayer games. SiN will also come with a number of specifically designed deathmatch levels, with others inevitably set to appear on their website. Another original idea is the appearance in the game of consoles, whereby the player can hack into various systems, discover passwords and read people's e-mail to glean useful information.
Ritual have also made use of the on-line community to ascertain exactly what gamers want. Their website has featured a questionnaire asking what the characters should be called, how they should act and so forth. People were also asked what kind of creatures they enjoyed killing most, and the overwhelming response was humans, which just goes to show what nasty little bastards you really are. But true to their word Ritual took note, and SiN will feature the dregs of humanity, including a mutated construction worker, replete with al fresco arse crack and obligatory wolf whistle.
So far, so cool, but what does SiN specifically offer that other 3D action games don't? "We've got the integrated storyline," says Selinske. "We're really pushing the realism element, trying to make a more coherent environment so that when you're in a particular area it's distinctive and recognisable and you can identify with it - but it still has to be fun. We've taken the Quake engine to the next level."
It looks like SiN is going to be a game to be reckoned with - we definitely recommend you tune in to our third instalment next month.
What we thought
"There's always something going on, and the ever-twisting plot constantly encourages you to make further progress. And, as previously mentioned, you do get to shoot people in the head."
What you think
- "This game is excellent, not only for single player (which has a great plot) but also for multiplayer. The weapons are reasonably fair, the levels well thought out (some single-player levels look amazing) and the power ups are great. I'm sure that by now everyone has found that the SiN patch v1.0I is bugged for the UK version, but according to Activision they are fixing this. "When the mods come out (ie Capture The Flag) this should definitely beat Quake 2 (if that's at all possible). I for one will be anxious to get hold of SiN 2 when it is finally released."
- "So what is up with SiN? Well, it's fine when things are quiet, but when the action gets frenetic the frame rate drops to give a very jerky picture. Worse still is the time it takes the levels to load - it seems interminable. "The cynic in me says that they rushed SiN out prematurely - even given its long development time - to get on the shelves ahead of Halt-Life"
- "SiN is one of the worst games ever released for the PC, and Activision are bastards. DO NOT BUY THIS GAME! "First off, this game is full of bugs: some of the end of level monsters don't work; the 'quick save' takes over a minute, so does the 'quick load'. Worst of all, Activision knew this before they released the game. "When you finally get the thing working, the game is so dull it makes dishwater look exciting. I have just wasted a lot of money on a terrible game, and I am very angry playtest your games properly. Games designers: have a new idea, please. Activision: give me my money back."
- "Who the hell needs Lara 'scrawny bitch' Croft when they can idolise a real woman of the likes of Elexis Sinclaire. Lara for the BOYS, Elexis for the REAL MEN."
- "How can you give SiN9I per cent? When a person like me buys a game, it is to play the single-player game once and then destroy his mates for the next two years or so. Over the Net, SiN is a pile of crap. Absolute crap. It's Duke Nukem 3D in Quake Its engine. The weapons are terrible - I couldn't get a single kill with the bloody rocket launcher. Absolute shite."
To successfully bore through every level SiN has to offer, you're going to need to know your primary and secondary objectives. This concise guide does just that and leads you effortlessly through to the ultimate showdown. Off you go then, Elexis awaits...
After taking out the terrorists on the roof, the bank stage is really quite simple. Once you've found the security key, go round to the rear entrance, smash through the window at the top of the stairs, and access the console in there to deactivate the security and get the vault code. Follow Mancini down the hole.
There are a lot of unstable wooden floors and beams here, so mind your step. The secondary objective is to retrieve the money from the terrorists. This is stashed in the skip by the wall - leap down from the top of the building to enter it. Afterwards, return to the roof and go down the hole at the far end to progress. Also, it's worth finding the valve in this section. This affects the construction zone - the next stage.
Find the foreman in the workman's hut to receive the blueprints and complete the secondary objective. Go outside and mess about with the wrecking crane. This knocks over some stuff which allows you to work your way through to the old subway.
Pick up all the money lying around and avoid shooting the tramps to complete your secondary objective. The subway is an easy section, really, just a straightforward chase to the end, where you finally get to pump the now-mutated Mancini full of lead.
Looks tricky this one, but it's a piece of cake if you know the route. Stroll into reception and immediately punch out the receptionist so she doesn't raise the alarm. Sneak up the main corridor, ducking under the first window and taking the second corridor on your left. Note the elevator. Continue down this route, ducking under the next set of windows and take a left at the end. Go through the door on your left. Kill the guy in the locker room for the elevator key. Sneak back to the elevator. Primary and secondary objectives complete.
Security is an issue here. The chances are you'll be spotted at some point, but it doesn't matter as you can temporarily disable the alarms from the computer consoles. Basically, you just need to keep exploring until you find some 'U4' and then take it to a bioscanner. This gives JC the information he needs. You can now escape with all your objectives intact.
No problems. Use the consoles to deactivate the alarms and searchlights, and open the doors. Shoot some crates for extra goodies. Easy.
One of the more tricky aspects of this section is destroying all the 114 crates to complete the secondary objective. The only advice here is to just search hard and shoot all the crates you see. You might come across some kind of mutant creature, but it's easily avoided and easily killed, so don't be frightened. En route there's a terminal allowing you to switch a SinTEK weapons order for a cleaning supplies order. JC finds this highly amusing. The twat. Kill the foreman and install the remote modem at the netlink console.
Run riot with your chain gun and everything should be fine. The security grid can be deactivated by blowing up the compressed air tanks on the floor. The rest of the security can be switched off from the console near the end of this section. Oh, watch out for wall-mounted chain guns. A bit of bobbing and weaving and dead-eye shooting should help.
At the sign, head left into the computer room to access the database. Now head towards the matrix core and upload a virus into the terminal. Go through to the FAB area and shut down the three machines. Now for Elexis' mutant beasties... they're pretty sluggish, so keep moving and firing with the chain gun. Grab the pass in the room where Elexis gave her little speech and head for the helipad. Jump through the window into the control room to open the doors and let your chopper pull you out.
Once you get the rocket launcher and keypass from the grunts outside, you're ready to kick ass. Destroy the generator using the rocket launcher and then head through to the flooded section. Plummet into the pipe, wade along the tunnel, turn right, and keep going. Take the severed arm and use it to access silo #1. Enter the control room and unlock silos #2 and #3. Go into silo #2 and lock down the missile. Redirect the missile in silo #3. Unfortunately, Seattle is nuked as a result. This can't be helped: if you try to disarm it you die horribly... Rather several million innocent people than a man named Blade, huh?
The primary and secondary objectives are difficult to fail unless you deliberately want to shoot the tramps near the start - and it is tempting.
There are two exits here. The first is the whirlpool, which takes you to the aqueducts via a very rough ride. This is ultimately the wrong route, but the second, proper route fulfils all objectives and takes you to the dam. Basically, just follow the route along and stay on the platforms.
If you're unlucky enough to get sucked into this area, never fear. Shoot the pipe to escape, and then blow up the machinery. Go down the pipe and ride the tubes to the security room. Shoot the window, unlock the doors from the terminal and head to safety.
The secondary objective can be tricky in so far as it's difficult to find all the chemical drums - it is possible, you just need to search thoroughly. Watch out for snipers; they appear on the dam roof and are a damn pain in the arse. You can shoot down the chopper here, too.
Go into the room with the two cowering scientists and take the pass. Go through to the terminal and activate the tram system to access the waterworks. Alternatively, you can climb down the side of the dam (where the helicopter appeared) and carefully work your way onto the ledge where the two guards are playing cards. Grab the keycard from the table and eventually shut down the turbines. Doing this means you leapfrog two whole sections and end up on the SinTEK oil rig.
Find the key to the sewage intake in the building on your right. Go through, and turn off and drain the clarifiers. Drain the filter tanks. Finally, shut down the sewage pumps and close the valves.
Stop the yellow, red and blue contamination by turning both valves on each pipe. A mutant called Eon & Peon appears; the rocket launcher should pacify this demonic spawning.
Pop the workers on the lower deck of the rig with the sniper rifle (brilliant fun) and then work your way through the rig. Eventually you reach a lift; go down.
Start the machinery. Go into the adjoining room and open the two pipes. Dive into the pool and plunge down the vent. Swim through and you should make it to a room with a suit and a key. Take these and go through the door back to the start. Head into the pool again and follow the sub through the doors. Use the bubbles on the way to help you breathe.
To complete the secondary objective you must shoot the silver air tanks to destroy the machinery and air ducts. Pretty tough this one, so be patient.
This is a complete nightmare, not because it's full of enemies, but because it's just so difficult to find the correct route. Basically, keep swimming until you find a sub to follow through the doors to reach the hidden docks.
Be quick here. Deactivate the gun cams so you can run through to find the scientist with the blue pass. Sprint back and go through the security door - but that's too easy! For a tougher ride, $wim underwater to find a lone sniper and a secret area to the geothermal plant.
All the primary objectives are straightforward, apart from the navigation computer, which must be obliterated with something heavy. There are two exits to choose from: the standard one using the red pass, and another, which can be found by diving down in the water towards the rear section of the station.
Create as much damage as you can. This whole area affects what happens in the jungle later. Return the way you came, or find the secret exit which leads to the second half of the plant.
Destroy the furnace at the beginning to cause severe havoc in the jungle and an optional return to the earlier geothermal section. Also smash up the three ciphons (huge pistons) to cause a leak which affects the pool in Darwin chamber #2 in Area 57. If you traipse through the remaining level you eventually end up behind the yellow pass door in geothermal plant 1.
If you took the secret exit from the submarine cargo station you will arrive beneath the valve room (normal starting place). Turn the valve to wreck the platform, and head into the jungle. A secret exit to jungle pass 2 is found underwater at the bottom of the chasm. If there's lava (from blowing the furnace in geo 2) instead of water in the chasm, the exit's inaccessible. A standard exit at guard station beta takes you to the gorge instead.
Jungle Pass 2
You really don't want to be in here; your only objective is to escape ASAP. Push the banana tree over to cross the lake, and go through the tunnel, killing the large-fisted monsters with the plasma cannon. Sprint down the hill after the bear trap to avoid a rock fall. Pass the lava pit, go up the ladder, cross the walkway, and go through the doors. After the helicopter there's a few tricky jumps, a rope climb, a short gung-ho frenzy and a stroll to the end. You finally reappear at the end of jungle pass 1. A complete nightmare!
This section is totally linear. First take the quad bike and squish as many guards as you can, then go into the building for a bit of a shock.
Containment Area 57
A weird but relatively simple level. Complete the three tests in the Darwin chambers, then turn yourself back into a human. Tool up and head out. Weird.
To reach this elusive level you must first go to the geothermal plant and smash the three pistons. Then, as you traverse through the tests in Area 57, go through the drain at the bottom of Darwin chamber #2. This takes you to where there's a whole lot of pointless shooting before returning to Area 57 to continue your tests.
Xenomorphic Laboratories And Studies
Adrenaline can be found in a secret passage under the stairs near the start. After that it's pretty much straight through the various sick sections. Make sure you get your hands on the quantum destabiliser - that should sort out the bigger mutants, and those big bastards with the tazers.
Climb through the secret passage by the palm tree to gain entrance to the mansion. Disable the first batch of security. Venture through into the second section. Move through the house and dive off the balcony into the lake below. Go through the door, then the next on your left to reach security console #2. Now head up to the bedroom.
Elexis is giving a corker of a speech in the conference room. Find her. Go into the observation dome and some soldiers attack. One of them has a pass. Go to the balcony and surprise Elexis. She does a runner. Go to the control room. Now it's FIGHT time...
THRALL (Final Enemy)
After being thrown into the pit, jump in the lift, re-arm, and go outside to meet Thrall. Your best chance against this huge horror is the quantum destabiliser. Run backwards and keep firing. Whatever you do, avoid his saw. If you can manage that and knock out a few dimensionripping blasts, he should bite the dust fairly quickly. On to the end sequence...
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
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2018-12-26 SiN game added.