It's Chocked Full of Sinful Goodness

Sin was shown again at E3 this year, and it's come quite a way since last year. Last year's Sin demo included one single environment, two weapons, one monster, and a slick version of the Quake 1 engine (with 16-bit color textures, colored lighting, and rotating objects). In terms of sheer mass, this year's demo wasn't that much larger, but it was that much better. The demo included three environments, seven characters, and nearly all the weapons. One deathmatch map was also playable in another booth. The demo was shown on two machines, both very fast PII's I assume, one with a Voodoo2 powered 3D card, and one with a Real3D card. The Voodoo2 machine performed very well, while the Real3D seemed to lag whenever a rocket was shot (may have been the alpha blending on the explosions).

As always, the design of the two main environments being shown (the sewer and the damn) was excellent. Ritual's attention to detail was not lost, nor was the sheer scale of the maps. The sewer level was a network of destructible pipes, catwalks and well, sewage. You entered the sewer by blowing the lock off a grate then climbing down a couple ladders. Some of Sin's environment scripting was shown in this environment on various useable valves and flooding rooms. If you opened some valves in the wrong order you'd be sucked into a spinning turbine at the bottom of one of the pipes. The damn environment looked very similar to the opening level of Goldeneye, with various towers you could snipe (or be sniped) from. Both levels had lots of destructible elements (road blocks, street signs, lights), along with some vehicles (jeeps, trucks, tractors), but none of them were drivable.

The third single player environment that was shown was the Hard Corps Headquarters. You can return to the HQ at any time during the game, to check out new weapons, or just practice your skills. Here there are some commons areas where other Hard Corps guards are lounging, but the real magic is in the training areas. I played four different training areas. The first two are Hogan's Alley style shooting galleries. Cardboard character cut outs pop up and you shoot the bad guys, but not the good guys. The third is a sniper range, much like the shooting galleries, except the targets are a football field away. You use the sniper rifle to snipe the targets as they appear in various windows. The fourth, and my favorite, training environment is the skeet shooting range. Here clay discs shoot out into a field and you try to blast them with your shotgun before they hit the ground. Each training environment has a skill system, where you log in and then choose your skill setting. It will even score you against other players.

The one deathmatch map that I got to play was the promised downtown cityscape map, named Sin City. The map was map up of various building tops that you could jump between, or you could fight down in the streets and alleys below. The map also had a large construction crane that could be controlled by the players. The similarity between this map and the first couple Duke3D maps really couldn't be missed, but Ritual did comment that the map wasn't in its final form, and may even evolve into a single player map. Just incase you're curious, I put the smack down on Aaron (Lithium) and three other players during the short time we got to deathmatch. The frag limit was 10 kills, and it took me all of 2 minutes.

Sin's weapons overall were looking excellent, and are possibly some of the best models I've seen for guns in a video game. The demo had six playable weapons: handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, chaingun, rocket launcher, and sniper rifle, along with Blade's fists when you run out of ammo. The handgun looks great and has some good twitch animations. Nothing really new for the shotgun, but it looked cool none the less. The assault rifle is a futuristic looking gun that has a spinning segment in the middle of the barrel, and shoots out bullets quite fast. The chaingun looked absolutely dynamite. In one hand Blade hold the gun, and in the other he holds the actual chain of bullets. This gun is like the assault rifle's big bad cousin, and does twice the damage, but eats ammo twice as fast. The sniper rifle is going to be everyone's favorite gun. It has a fairly long playing loading animation, where the gun unfolds and expands itself to its full size. Once it's opened you can zoom in using the scope, and pick people off from miles away. Other non-playable weapons that we got a peak of were the harpoon gun, spider mines, and the pulse cannon.

The Sin demo had three enemies in the environments, and four other character (including Blade). The most used enemy was a SinTech grunt that used the same handgun as Blade. The coolest feature with him was to shoot at his various limbs and watch his clothes rip and become bloodied where you shot him. I saw as many as six different locations you could get different reactions from. He would also react in different ways, either grabbing his wounded leg and falling over, or spinning to the ground when you hit him in the shoulder. In the final version all character will has this behavior. The second monster was a very tall half-android that had a gattling gun grafted to an arm. He seemed mean but was fairly easy to take out. Of course, I was in god mode the entire time. The third enemy that I only saw briefly was a female sniper. She was mutter "stand still" to you while she took aim between shots. It was fairly unnerving to walk into an open area and here six snipers taking aim. Besides the three enemies there was a generic lab technician that spent most of his time running in circles, a Hard Corps guard, and some homeless guys that would duck and run if you aimed at them. Blade's model and skin looked great, and were really fun to play deathmatch with. It was a little odd to be in an environment with four exact copies of yourself though.. The release version of Sin DM will feature multiple player models and skins, so that shouldn't be a problem.

One disappointing aspect of the Sin demo this year was the lack of artificial intelligence for the enemies and non-player character. All of the monsters were primarily in duck-and-shoot mode, and you could sometimes get them to duck. I did get to talk to Jim about this and he explained that the entire AI system has been reworked and that that will be added soon.

Overall I was very impressed by Sin, and it was definitely one of the best looking and playing games on the demo room floor. The demo environment this year wasn't very good for showing some things however. It was way too loud on the floor to hear any audio or music. And since there are only three environments it's difficult to get a really good idea of how the missions or action-based outcomes will work in gameplay. I'm very much looking forward to getting to play a fuller version of this awesome game!

Patrick 'Millennium' Curry