SiN (PC) Review

By Athanasios 08.06.2022

Review for SiN on PC

Believe it or not, there was a time, fellow nerd, when video games would be released after meticulous testing. Sometime during the industry's short history things begun to change for a variety of reasons. In the case of Ritual Entertainment's - sort of - cult classic first-person shooter, SiN, the reason for the haste was the fact that pretty soon Valve would unleash Half-Life, and pretty much demolish all competition in the genre. What players got in their hands was a problematic product (as expected), but it did manage to turn a couple of heads. Was it because of the demo of the first level, which showed a pretty innovative (for the time) FPS? Was it due to the use of a heavily modified Quake II engine? No, it was because of big boobies. This was 1998, after all.

The game begins. The hero you are in control of is John R. Blade; an elite private cop, of an elite private police force called HardCorps. A hacker-dude by the name of JC guides you through Blade's earpiece, throwing a couple of cheesy jokes while at it. The camera follows Blade's chopper, as he is sent to stop a bank heist in the futuristic (not really) town of Freeport. You take a good look at the generic goons that guard an entrance, who talk and laugh exactly as you would expect some generic goons to do so. Blade opens fire on his mounted turret and obliterates the opposition, right before going through the ceiling and start killing more of these fools on foot.

By now, most players have smelled the cheese. The hero has dreadlocks, a soul patch, and throws one-liners and 'damns' left and right; the female civilians you can save at the bank rock enormous, jiggly racks, and wear skin-tight, skimpy office attire; a busty girl on a swimsuit can be seen in a poster of this otherwise, very… bank-looking bank. Yes, this is one of these games. It's an unapologetic blend of '80s "radical," and '90s "cool," with tons of bad writing and enjoyable cringy-ness… and this is just the first level. You haven't seen the villainess of this tale yet. Or you have, and that's why you are here reading a review of an obscure FPS from 1998.

Screenshot for SiN on PC

SiN is Teenage Mutant Turtles meets Stallone's Cobra, with the cherry on top being a voluptuous dominatrix that looks as if Jessica Rabbit had a child with the Dark Queen from Battletoads, which also happens to be a genetic engineering genius, and all around madwoman. Yes, this is cheesy, and that's not a complain. It's that kind of piece of media that wouldn't exist today, and that's part of its charm. It's a product of a small team that did what it wanted to do, and didn't care about anything else - an attitude that gave birth to juggernauts such as Doom amongst others. "But is the game any good?" some people are asking right now. Haven't you paying attention you dimwits?!? There's a sexy, evil babe here, with a pair of enormous, bouncing tatas! Of course the game is good!!!

In all seriousness, though… no. This isn't really that good. Part of the problem is the rushed production it went through. The initial release was filled with bugs and graphical glitches, resolution-locked UI and menus, doors that acted as deadly crashers (typical of Quake II engine games), music that would go bonkers, and levels that took eons to load. The updated 'Gold' edition, which was bundled along with the expansion, Wages of Sin, was a much more polished product, but a rushed production doesn't only leave behind bugs, which can be fixed, but also game design issues, which are hard or impossible to rework.

Screenshot for SiN on PC

Ok, the gunplay is fairly enjoyable in the first hour or so. Movement is fast, the weapons behave the way they are supposed to, with enemy armour being a bit more realistic, in the sense that hitting armoured parts needs too much firepower, forcing you to go for that nice, clean headshot. Oh, and lots of gibbing on offer, with the shotgun creating lots of meaty chunks when fired. Even from the beginning, though, it's easy to see the lack of polish. Movement feels a bit slippery, weapon sounds are extremely weak, decreasing the immersion, and 99% of this is a linear path, with lots of hitscanner enemies scattered every 10 steps or so, making this a repetitive chore.

The weird thing? The generic "shoot bad guys" maps are actually the best, because apart from those SiN has plenty of stages with a variety of objectives, like disabling machines, avoid sounding alarms, driving vehicles, and many, many more, which more often than not make the game worse. Stealth is particularly badly handled, with the main tactic being the spamming of quick saves. Finally, like all rashly made products, the balance is all over the place, with weapons that don't do the expected damage, snipers that one-shot Blade (lots of snipers, by the way), and many, many more examples to talk of.

Screenshot for SiN on PC

What one needs to understand is that SiN is considered a cult classic. In other words, while objectively it has many problems, lots of people have fallen in love with it. While this critic isn't one of those lucky chaps, he certainly belonged in the demographic this was targeted at, and kind of understands its appeal. SiN is deeply flawed and clearly an incomplete and untested piece of software, but it's also mildly enjoyable as a b-movie kind of experience. As such, you must embrace the cheese on offer, and set aside silly things as good writing, storytelling, or whatever, and just enjoy the not-so-badass-badass protagonist, the dad joke-level humour of your partner in crime, and the needlessly erotic behaviour of the biological terrorist/Hitler with big anime tiddies you are up against.

To be fair, whether you find SiN to be cheesy matters not. Its biggest problem is that it's pretty obvious that the developer had other plans for it, but in its hurry to release it, just threw everything in the garbage, which is a shame because the team's ambition can been seen in lots of places. The level design is probably one of SiN's better qualities. Not from a practical point of view, but in terms of visual appeal. Yes, almost all maps are generic, "realistic" places, but Ritual Entertainment has really pushed id Tech 2 engine to its limits, and created something that's very rough around the edges, but still manages to look good. Here's hoping the upcoming remaster from the experts down at Nightdive Studios will manage to - vastly - improve on the original recipe.

Screenshot for SiN on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It's definitely possible to enjoy SiN, but it requires a very specific mindset to do so, because this is an incomplete, rashly made, and thus very unpolished product, as well as cheesy beyond belief - although that's definitely the best thing about it. This is a game made for retro FPS fans, and retro FPS fans alone, and even those are advised to approach with caution.

Developer

Ritual Entertainment

Publisher

Activision

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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