North American cover art
Hyperion Entertainment (Linux)
|Producer(s)||Harry A. Miller IV|
|Engine||Id Tech 2|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Linux, Classic Mac OS|
SiN introduced some new features to the first-person shooter genre, such as the ability to knock the weapon out of an opponent's hand and to take area-specific damage from enemies. Although driveable vehicles did not play a big part in the game, there were some sections and levels which required the player to drive certain vehicles, including an all-terrain vehicle, a patrol boat, a forklift, and a helicopter. SiN also featured three different types of body armor - for the legs, for the torso and for the head, with each of them depleting separately according to where the player was getting hit.
SiN featured one of the highest levels of interactivity of any first-person shooter at that time. Much of the environment could be interacted with, computer terminals could be manipulated through a DOS-like command prompt, and various objects could be destroyed. Also, a player's progression through SiN was not entirely linear. Many levels had multiple ways in which to complete them, and actions could trigger drastic changes in future levels. This feature was intended to add a level of replayability to the game and force the player to think before acting. Some of these actions could even force the player to go through an entirely different set of levels while progressing through the game. SiN also contained many Easter eggs, more so than most other games, ranging from some fairly obvious signs and graffiti to entirely hidden rooms and even whole levels.
The AI of the enemies in the game was rather advanced for a game of its time, with the foes being able to run for cover, call for reinforcements, locate the player throughout the levels, respond to specific scripts etc. However, there were some issues with the game code which prevented the enemies from acting completely in the way they were supposed to and unleash their full potential.
Set in the near future of 2037, many of the levels and locations are reminiscent of their current day equivalents. Banks, building sites, sewage works and other everyday recognizable buildings form the basis of many of the levels in Sin. One major difference in the world of SiN is the lack of a police force. Ten years prior to the game, the police force collapsed due to corruption and ineffectiveness against the rising tide of crime. Private security companies have taken the police's place, with some of them patrolling the streets like the former police, some in charge of protecting their employer's assets.
One of the companies which employ their own armed security forces is SinTek, a large multi-national biotechnology corporation specializing in medical and chemical research, owned by the beautiful and charismatic Elexis Sinclaire. Elexis took over the company following the mysterious disappearance of her father, Dr Thrall Sinclaire, who founded it in 2005.
The protagonist of the game, Colonel John R. ("Rusty") Blade, is the commander of one of the largest security forces in the city of Freeport, HardCorps. Prior to the beginning of the game, Blade is working to rid the streets of a potent new recreational drug named U4, which is rapidly gaining popularity in Freeport and is rumoured to be able to cause genetic mutations to its users. Yet the source of the drug is still unknown, and its effects not entirely studied. As the game begins, the player is placed into the shoes of John Blade as he responds to a full-scale bank heist and hostage situation perpetrated by a well-known Freeport criminal boss, Antonio Mancini. But as the player progresses and pursues the criminal behind the heist, further questions are raised: Who is really behind the heist? And is this linked to the reported appearances of mutants in the city?
As the game progresses, it is gradually revealed that the whole bank robbery is funded by Elexis Sinclaire, who in fact only wanted Mancini to steal a safety deposit box from the bank's vault. When she learns that he launched a full-scale bank heist instead, she injects him with concentrated U4 and turns him into a mutant, sending him after Blade. John manages to defeat the huge creature, and afterwards learns that it was, in fact, Mancini himself. Blade also finds out that the substance found in Mancini's body after his death is only manufactured by one company: SinTek. All these unavoidable facts force Blade to embark on an investigation into SinTEK's vast industrial area located in the outskirts of Freeport.
Later, Blade learns that Elexis Sinclaire's main goal is to contaminate the Freeport water system with vast quantities of U4, turning all of the city's inhabitants into mutants. He manages to thwart that plan, but it turns out to be just a diversion because, in the meantime, SinTek's troops steal nuclear warheads from a U.S. military base. Elexis threatens to fill them with U4 and launch them at specific targets, turning the entire world's population into mutants. As Blade becomes aware of that, he heads to SinTek's main base in order to stop Sinclaire. However, once Blade defeats the SinTek's security and mutants at the base, he reaches Sinclaire, only for her to escape by transferring her entire body into a rocket that launches itself into the sky, splits and spreads everywhere, JC is unable to locate them, in Blade's fury of the escape, he smashes a button, causing the nuclear missiles to abort and cancel their launching. Sinclaire disappears through the rockets, never to be seen again.
Throughout the missions, Blade is aided via radio link by a computer expert working at HardCorps: JC, a skilled hacker, capable of breaking into even the tightest of networks. In fact, Blade had first found out about JC when investigating a cracker who had broken into the HardCorps system. After tracking down the hacker, Blade, recognizing the perpetrator's talents, decided to make him a job offer at HardCorps instead of arresting him. Thus, JC became one of the HardCorps most valuable assets and the only one able to assist them in hacking-based missions.
Development started in 1997, on the Quake engine. When the id Tech 2 engine was completed some months later, the developers switched to that engine. The game demo was found to have a CIH virus infection in one of its mirror links. Activision had advised players only to download the game demo from their website. Due to the amount of patches which made the game more CPU intensive, primary Amiga developer and later AmigaOS developer Hyperion Entertainment had to eventually cancel the AmigaOS version due to the lack of hardware at the time.
Mark Asher of CNET Gamecenter wrote that "Sin had a good first month, but then tailed off sharply." Combined with the failure of competitors Shogo: Mobile Armor Division and Blood II: The Chosen, its performance led him to speculate that the first-person shooter genre's market size was smaller than commonly believed, as the "only FPS game that has done really well [over the Christmas 1998 period] is Half-Life." However, BBC News' Alfred Hermida reported that SiN had achieved "decent success" over the holiday shopping season, and wrote that he expected a sequel to emerge as a result.
SiN received "average" reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings. While PC Zone gave the game a "Classic" award, praising its inventive level design and engaging plot, most other publications did not have such a glowing view towards it.
One common complaint was the long load times, which measured in the minutes between each level, death, or quickload. With later patches the long load times were greatly shortened, although compatibility with old save games was lost, forcing players to play through the game from the beginning or use cheats to progress to their previous point in the game. Another major concern was the abundance of bugs and glitches littered throughout the game. Some of the more widely reported bugs include a total lack of sound in the game, an end of chapter boss which couldn't move, a level on one path through the game not being finishable and general game crashes. Although these bugs were quickly patched up, the damage of the negative publicity had already been done, especially with the majority of the press reviewing the unpatched version. The patch was exceptionally large; at the time it was normal to expect a game patch file to be up to 5 MB in size, whereas SiN's first patch was over 31 MB. This was at a time when a substantial percentage of internet access was via dial-up, causing Activision to take the unusual step of offering to send CDs containing the patch to any owners of the game who did not have sufficient bandwidth to download it from the Internet. A likely explanation for the multitude of bugs is that the game may have been rushed to meet the 1998 Christmas season, possibly as an attempt to beat Half-Life to market.
Sequels and other media
A mission pack was released for the game in 1999 by 2015, Inc., entitled SiN: Wages of Sin. The player reprises the role of John Blade, and the story picks up after the conclusion of the main game, pitting the player against Gianni Manero, a notorious crime boss looking to take over Freeport city.
In 2000, ADV Films released a 60-minute anime film, Sin: The Movie. Although loosely based on the game, with similar characters and plot elements, there are some differences. For example, a major character from the game is killed off in the first few moments of the film; also, it takes place in the 2070s, whereas the games take place in the late 2030s.
An alternate reality game based in the SiN universe was launched in 2005 to promote the announcement of SiN Episodes. Various cryptic puzzles could be found on the website, and solving these would lead to new pieces of media and art. However, support for this piece of viral marketing by Ritual Entertainment did not last, although it has been claimed by Ritual that the final puzzles still remained unsolved.
SiN was re-released on the Steam platform on April 5, 2006 bundled together with SiN Episodes: Emergence. This version of SiN (version 1.12) includes fixes for audio and video playback problems as well as integration with the Steam multiplayer server browser. It was also released, along with its expansion pack SiN: Wages of Sin on GOG.com on January 30, 2014, DRM-free and fixed for modern hardware.
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