Despite by-the-book design, SiN Episodes: Emergence delivers hard, pulse-pounding first-person shooter action in a convenient snack-sized package. You are John Blade, commander of HardCorps, uber-rental cops serving in a garden-variety near-future dystopia. Your enemy is one Elexis Sinclair - a saucy temptress who could easily be mistaken for Lara Croft's evil twin sister. Sinclair leads SinTek, a typical multinational corporation with a simple goal: complete and utter world domination. That's the whole story: rent-a-cop vs evil bitch. If you're looking for character development and subtle motives, go play Oblivion instead. SiN is about blowing things up.
And blow things up you will. During the five hours of game, you'll battle a never-ending stream of the typical lackeys, henchmen and stooges that populate every first-person shooter we've ever played. The SinTek goons use cover, retreat and wield even in-game objects against you. The old "exploding barrel down the stairs" trick puts a smile on our face no matter how many times we see it.
But there's one thing that lifts Emergence above the rest of the shooter schlock: the difficulty. A dynamic difficulty system keeps the game challenging for even the saltiest multiplayer vet. When you start a new game, you choose the level of challenge as well as how often you want help. Then, as you play, the game tracks things like the amount of damage you give and take, the accuracy of your shots, your ammunition level and the number of health packs you use to constantly tweak the type, number and strength of the baddies you battle. We've all heard this story before, but it actually works really well in the game.