Tag Archives: Ritual Entertainment

SiN Retrospective Part 2: SiN: The Movie

One common drawback among most movies based on properties, (especially video games) is that they unwittingly betray the core principles of those properties. Adapting some of this stuff certainly isn’t easy. Much of it doesn’t translate to film. Or sometimes a story is too simple to stretch 90 minutes out of. It’s understandable that a movie based on a story told in another medium isn’t going to be exactly the same for a variety of reasons. But on the other hand, it’s a two-edged sword. Often times things are so far away from the source material, one has to wonder why bother naming a movie after it at all whatsoever. Over the last 20 years we’ve seen Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Double Dragon, Tomb Raider, Dead or Alive, House Of The Dead, Dungeon Siege, Alone In The Dark, Bloodrayne, and even Resident Evil (Which they did a seemingly endless number of entries on) turned into films. Many of them very bad, and having little to nothing to do with the games they were named after.

PROS: The animation is fluid, and detailed. Characterizations are spot on.

CONS: The story is a departure from the video game. It also has trouble staying coherent.

ADV: The movie’s publisher went belly up in 2009. The movie was re-released that same year.

In the case of these game to film conversions (With the exception of SMB) they were multi platform games with wide appeal. Many were on arcades, and home platforms, while others were on several consoles, and computer platforms. SiN was solely released on Windows-based computers back in 1998. While it reviewed fairly well, it was still a few years before anime house, ADV decided to actively get the license from Ritual Entertainment for a SiN anime. SiN has some really beautiful artwork, and animation in it. As far as the accurate depictions of the characters from the game are concerned, it gets them mostly right most of the time.

ADV had the script for the movie written, and acted stateside, while they had a few animators in Japan do the animation.

The movie opens up at a funeral. It turns out JC Armack from the game has died, and Blade is at the funeral with an older gentleman. As the priest is going through the funeral prayer succession, Blade begins to have flashbacks that set up just how JC died. As the flashback begins we can also hear police radio chatter describing that people are mysteriously being kidnapped.

We cut to a police chase as Blade, JC, and HardCORPS (The police group from the game) are chasing down a monster who has kidnapped a little girl.After the majority of their vehicles are totaled Blade, and JC follow the monster into the sewers.JC sees a red glow coming from one of the pipes, and he finds the girl in front of an odd colored blob.Before the girl can finish warning him, the blob assimilates JC, and attacks Blade.With no other options, JC tells Blade to kill him, as the monster finishes assimilating him.Blade shoots JC in the face, and right out of this drastic change to the story set up in the game, we get our opening credits. After some impressive looking title cards the movie takes us back to Blade, talking to an old man while a woman in a car looks at them. She swears under her breath before the movie screen wipes to SinTek.

Elexis Sinclaire is called on a com channel by her henchmen. She argues with them, and fires some of them after she tells them that they cannot use her mutants as toys. She leaves what appears to be an incubation chamber, where a man (Presumably a boyfriend) tells her he wants to go with her, and she tells him only if he can keep up with her. He tells her it’s a date, and we have another screen wipe.

In the next scene we’re back in HardCORPS where we see the woman who was in the car at the funeral storm in. She is greeted by a police officer who tries, and fails to be suave with her, and then tries to tell her she can’t just barge in. She reveals herself to be in a higher level of jurisdiction, and then begins to ream Blade verbally. Why? Because apparently she blames him for the death of her brother (Who we later confirm is JC). She also demands to take the girl they saved from the mutant in the flashback segment we opened with. But the Doctor (Who we have yet to see) has told HardCORPS she can’t be moved yet because of the stress of the situation. JC’s Sister also accuses Blade of having ties to the mafia.

We then have another flashback, where Blade is talking with another man on the steps of a building, where they are both gunned down. As they fall the other man drops what appears to be a ZIP disk (Remember those?), which the shooters steal, and run off with.

In the next scene we see a ship called the Prometheus.

Aboard the ship Elexis is making time with her boyfriend we saw in her last scene. It turns out that his name is Vincent. Once again her henchmen interrupt her on a com channel while Vincent practically begs for intercourse. The com channel displays a large chunk of the Middle East being overrun by the monsters we saw in the beginning of the movie. Elexis tells Vincent to consider the footage to be like foreplay before she gives Vincent a glass of wine. Before drinking it, she talks a little about the drug she made to turn humans into mutant killers, which is sort of what she did in the video game. Vincent being an idiot, doesn’t see how transparently evil his boss, and lover is. He drinks the wine only to find he’s been poisoned. We cut to a different spot on the ship, to find Vincent on an operating table. Elexis reminds Vincent that he had said he wanted to be part of her plot before cutting into him. As he screams we pan out from the ship, and wipe to HardCORPS.

Blade talks to the doctor who had been put in place of looking after the child they saved.The doctor tells Blade that he found something odd about the girl’s blood.While this is going on, we get ANOTHER flashback. This time it’s the child’s.She remembers her adoptive parents talking about how special she is, and we learn her name is Elise. Around this time, JC’s sister comes back, brooding, and angry. The doctor tells her instead of harboring ill will over Blade’s head, she should be like her brother who would have worried more about solving these cases involving monsters.

We cut to a gory monster fight scene, where it turns out the orphan girl Elise is in one of these monsters. It kills an entire platoon of cops, and when Blade sees this she smiles. One of the cops shoots it in the torso but it regenerates. While this is going on Vincent is looking for Elise, in HardCORPS. Vincent slaughters a bunch of cops before being confronted by JC’s sister. The playboy cop from before shows up, and shoots a rocket into Vincent, but is quickly assimilated. JC’s sister is too afraid to shoot Vincent, so Tim (It isn’t until this moment the movie decides to tell us his name.) Stabs himself to death so the assimilation cannot be completed.

Blade, the doctor, and crew come back to find Tim dead, and that somehow they know Vincent is Vincent Mancini (The character who robbed the bank in the SiN game).Also the way it is spoken here you would have had to have played the game to get the reference. It’s also confusing because up until now he was called Vincent, but here they only reference him by his last name. But I digress.

It turns out Elise was assimilated because JC’s sister couldn’t get to her in time. The doctor pulls up more of his research to tell Blade that these monsters can regenerate but aren’t invincible. But the monsters are only one human genome from both being invincible, and bridging the gap between their human, and monster forms. It is here that JC’s Sister just happens to know that Ciro Sinclaire was a mad scientist who came fairly close to pulling this off. The Dr. doesn’t believe this right away, but then JC’s sister brings up the fact his daughter Elexis has the financial resources, and motive to continue his work to pull this off. So everyone decides to reconvene to discuss a plan to go after Elexis, and SinTek. (Except for JC’s sister because we need a gratuitous shower scene. Why? Probably because they thought copying the Chun Li clip from the Street Fighter anime movie would be a capital idea.)

One of the Justices in Freeport however, tells the police chief that HardCORPS isn’t allowed to go after SinTek even though they have enough evidence to prosecute, and arrest Elexis Sinclaire. After arguing with him, the police chief fires Blade, and makes him turn in his badge. Blade talks with the old man from the beginning of the movie who wants Blade to come with him. Blade refuses to so the old guy explains that while SinTek has moles in Government, and companies that Blade’s father had managed to get moles inside of SinTek. These moles found a way to stop SinTek’s monsters from gaining power, but didn’t know how effective their weapon would be.

He explains that Blade’s dad had died protecting it, and gives the finished serum capsules to Blade. Blade’s comrades then decide to defy their boss, and help Blade go after SinTek to rescue Elise. While on their way, Elexis describes to Elise how the authorities took down her father for his mad science. After her parents were gunned down, Elexis decided to continue his research, while at the same time destroying his estate, and any evidence of his work’s existence.

She begins to experiment more on Elise, as HardCORPS band of rogue cops use a cloaking device.

Cutting back to Elexis, she goes on about how Elise is the only one of five experimental attempts that came out perfectly. As this happens JC’s sister, and Blade manage to sneak in off of the cloaked chopper. Elexis’ henchmen spot the breach, and so Elexis releases all of the monsters at SinTek’s disposal. Blade’s father’s antidote bullets seem to work though, as the monsters cannot regenerate.

During the skirmish Blade goes out onto the side of the SinTek tower, and climbs up. As he does another monster climbs after him. He manages to defeat it, and get back inside. When he does Vincent is waiting for him, and due to his much thicker skin Blade’s bullets won’t penetrate him. Vincent then does a violent, and gory number on Blade. He skewers him, throws him all about the room (Which is surprisingly elegant for a mad scientist’s base of operations).

Vincent even knocks a chandelier down on top of Blade. JC’s sister shows up to distract Vincent, and it is here where Blade uses a live wire to electrocute him. Vincent then grows into an even stronger monster, and chokes Blade out. But before Vincent can kill him, he pulls a dagger out of his wrist Wolverine style, and stabs the material from his special bullets into Vincent’s neck which finally kills him.

Blade, and JC’s sister make it to Elise, but Elexis shows up to pull a glass cylinder around the three of them, and fills it with poison gas. She then talks about how Blade’s survival from being gunned down years ago was thanks to SinTek’s technology. Conveniently, it is here the helicopter pilot just happens to pull a chunk of the wall out which breaks the glass encasements allowing Blade, and the others to live. But Elexis is angered, and frees a final monster to do her bidding. It’s her father. Blade gets his ass handed to him, and knocked seemingly unconscious. But he then remembers his father telling him eons ago to “Use their own technology against them”

Blade leaps up off the ground, punches the monster in the face, and detonates his cybernetic hand which severely injures the monster. The monster then grows to epic proportions as if it were Tetsuo from the end of Akira. This gives JC’s sister enough time to remotely fire a laser from an off site location that saws the SinTek building in half, as well as the monster in half. This causes the building to explode. Elexis presumably fall to her demise. Blade somehow manages to catch JC, Elise, plus miraculously land inside the orbiting helicopter to go back to HardCORPS safe, and sound just in the nick of time.

The End.

Would I call this a bad movie? Yes. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen, but it does have some major problems. Some things are never explained. Some things like the contrived ending are just pulled out of the proverbial ass which lead to more questions. Like if JC’s sister had this mega ray of death this whole time, why didn’t she use it forever ago? It was established she was already investigating SinTek, and knew what Elexis was up to. She could have blown up the building long before she even had to worry about losing Elise to SinTek earlier. Speaking of JC’s sister, why did they even need to introduce her? It feels like the makers of the film just wanted to give Blade some sort of love interest, so they killed off his comrade, and replaced him with his comrade’s sister. Moreover, when you get to the end credits they even went as far as to tell us her initials are ALSO JC. Another nitpick is the lack of SinTek henchmen. NONE of the bad ass gun-toting soldiers under SinTek’s employment in the game are to be found here. Neither are it’s Strogg inspired cyborgs.

Watching the extras, some of the developers at Ritual said in an interview that they liked this tie-in, and to be fair there are some things to like. The artwork is cool, the fight scenes are easy to follow, and I’ll admit they even seemed to get the characterizations right most of the time. But at the same time some of the problems are too big to overlook, especially the way they did the end sequence. I’m sure being on the internet, some really, really astute viewer may find a point or two to correct me on, but my opinion stands.

As an action romp it’s barely passable. Yet it can fun at times. Some of the animation is really impressive, and most of the voice acting isn’t half bad. The characters generally behave the way you would expect, aside from the major change of JC’s early demise. But the story has too many contrivances, and unanswered questions to make sense. That’s a big problem for not only fans of the game, but for general audiences who stumble upon the movie. While better than many game tie-ins it still falls woefully short of true greatness.

Final Score: 4 out of 10 (For HardCORPS fans only)

SiN Retrospective Part 1: SiN Review

Originally released in 1998, Ritual Entertainment developed SiN from humble, literal in-house beginnings. It follows the story of HardCORPS police officer John Blade. As well as hacker JC Armack (A play on id software founder John Carmack’s name), and the nefarious plots by SinTek. A mega pharmaceutical company run by a voluptuous, and sultry mad scientist named Elexis Sinclaire.

PROS: Huge environments. Solid mechanics. Multiple paths.

CONS: Blocky graphics haven’t aged well. Later levels aren’t as interesting.

CHEESE: It has a lot of the fun, direct to video movies of the 1990’s have.

The game runs on id software’s Quake II engine. To go back to it today admittedly will have you wondering how games from the era could have impressed us so much. But if you can allow yourself to get past the blocky, low poly look of the characters, and 16 bit textures you will find a lot to like. Levels are huge, and intricate. There are branching paths ensuring you can complete the stages different ways, and enter following levels in different areas. Character designs are fairly original with only a few fairly generic ones crawling out toward the end. There are a lot of fun weapons, some cool boss fights, and even a vehicle section or two. Bottom line there is a lot to like.

Seeing how I’m doing this review as a retrospective, I’m doing something a little bit different. I’ll be going over the storyline. Broadly mind you, but there will be a number of spoilers. The game is also a retro game at this point so for a lot of people it shouldn’t be that big a deal. Nevertheless, there will be spoilers.

SiN opens up with the main character. Blade on a police chopper flying in to thwart what appears to be your typical bank robbery. As Blade you will have to gun down a bunch of low-level grunts, (Some of whom are dressed like ninjas with machine guns) to infiltrate a bank. It is right out the gate you will see Ritual made great use of the engine to do in-game cut scenes leaving pre-rendered CGI cut scenes for the very beginning, and end of the game. After making short work of these criminals you’ll get out of the chopper, and fight your way through the bank to get to the vault.

When you get to the vault you’ll be introduced to Vincent Mancini. Mancini is behind this elaborate heist, and has drilled under the bank for an escape route. As you pursue him, you’ll find yourself going through abandoned buildings filled with more henchmen. A short time later you will be introduced to Elexis Sinclaire in another in-game cut scene. She meets up with Mancini on the roof of a building, and argues with him. It turns out that all she had hired the mob to do at the bank was steal a safe deposit box, but instead Mancini had gone all out with a full-scale heist. Here we see Mancini is your typical idiot lackey type henchman. Sort of the Beast Man to her Skeletor. Or the Star Scream to her Megatron.

Anyway, Elexis injects him with something before flying off in a chopper because now her corporation can be tied to the robbery. As Blade you’ll follow on through a construction area eventually leading to a Subway. At the end of this subway level you meet up with a huge mutant monster in a battle that will remind you of the final boss of Resident Evil 2. He crashes through the roof of the train, then darts off after being severely damaged. When the train reaches it’s destination, the mutant returns, and you have to gun him down. This boss takes a TON of punishment. But when you finally beat him, the next cut scenes show HardCORPS taking in the body, and discovering the mutant monster was actually Vincent Mancini. The autopsy also shows signs of a lethal new street drug called U4 in his system, and that SinTek labs is known for making components to it.

The next stage will have you infiltrate SinTek’s lab division. This mission is one of the hardest in the game because you have to be very stealthy. There are a bunch of worker characters like scientists, receptionists, and other low-level drones you aren’t allowed to shoot. If you do, someone will hear it, and pull the alarms. If this happens there will be a horde of spider robots with chain guns swarming you. Plus turrets on nearly every ceiling gunning you down. Your only hope of beating this stage is to sneak up on the low-level characters, and punch them in the back so they can’t trip the alarms. You also have to do this away from security cameras, and you have to find hidden paths like one of the air ducts (You jump into off of a ceiling fan in the break room) to do it. At one point you even need to steal a yellow jumpsuit, and key card to advance.

By this point it should also be obvious that the game retains the “Get the key” aspect of games of the time. So expect to find yourself not only shooting down bad guys, but also looking for keys. However, the branching paths of the stages also lessen this, because if you know where to go you can avoid some (Though not all) of the key cards. That said, it never seems to reach the level of the old DOOM games where you needed them constantly. Here it’s much closer to Goldeneye 007 on the N64.

When you do get the key you’ll get on an elevator, to go underneath the lab, and it is here you first learn about their plan with drugs. You have to sneak around the labs until finally you find this one head scientist who has the key to get further. Up until now the only major environmental action you’ve had other than blowing up background objects is one bank vault password on a computer. But here you will have to log into a system, and turn off a fan. Run through the fan tunnel before it comes back on. Turn on another terminal to unlock doors. Turn on another terminal to get a scientists’ password for another terminal. And there is another terminal that opens up a lab so you can grab a U4 sample. After getting that sample there is another computer that controls a U4 scanner that you will have to jack into so that JC can read the data for your case. After all of that you have to escape the lab through an underground sewage pipe, and make your way to a warehouse.

In the warehouse you find out that Elexis is planning to poison the water supply with this U4 which will do to everyone what she did to Mancini. You also find out after going through this warehouse that she has a SECOND lab under the warehouse designing cyborgs much like the Strogg from Quake II. Much like everything else out of B movies in this story she wants to take over the world. (Though one wonders just how much money her company will have left after all of this elaborate spending. When they’re not wondering how she’s managed to keep all of this stuff a secret.)

After a hard-fought battle through these labs fighting off hordes of enemies you do catch up with Elexis who taunts you before unleashing two NEW types of cyborg killers. These are easier to take down than the mutant Mancini boss, but you do have to keep circle strafing, and sidestepping to stay alive.

I should have probably mentioned this earlier in the review but you don’t just walk over things in this game to get them, you actually have to press a button (Default is E) to pick them up. Some of the items you press a second button (Usually ENTER) to use them. In any event hopefully you’ve figured this out by now. In all likelihood you probably have. After you beat these bosses it still isn’t over because you’ll have to get outside to call a chopper to a pad which of course, is guarded.

The next stage will have you doing A SEWER LEVEL. But I have to be honest, the sewer stage in SiN is actually pretty well done, and is fun thanks again to branching paths. Also helping is the fact that it doesn’t sport the usual “Sewer” enemies although there are mice. (Brief tangent, this game has TONS of mice in it if you’re willing to look straight down when you take seemingly random -1 damage)

When you do manage to get through the end of this you’ll find yourself at the Dam where you will have to find your way down to a secret bunker to stop SinTek from poisoning the water supply.

When you do, you will find it was all for naught.

Why is this? Because Elexis Sinclaire has more dough, and parallel plot points than Dr. Wily, and every one of James Bond’s adversaries combined. While you were busy making the water line safe, she was out hijacking nukes, and taking them to her secret uncharted island base.

From this point JC sends you out to an oil rig owned by SinTek. After quietly coming up on a raft, and sniping some guards you begin your next quasi stealth mission. Elexis lands on the top of the rig with her helicopter, and tells everyone to kill you. So of course now you have to sneak to the top, blowing away everyone you see to get to her. Really everyone. Big guys with wrenches, more ninjas with tank guns, even a few of those cyborgs show up. This is one of the most fun stages in SiN due to the variety of enemies, and the various ways to the top you can go. When you get to the top you will actually be going down, because the elevator leads to another shipping area where SinTek is moving cases of stuff to the island. After dispatching guards, and getting a few more key cards, you flood the undersea base, and follow the shipments out to sea. In the sea you will have even more new enemy types like underwater deep-sea divers with harpoons, and giant blue crocodile/fish hybrids. Beating this stage is less about gunning down baddies, and more about finding air bubbles so you don’t drown. Also avoiding falling rocks, and spikes. It seems like there’s always something falling on you.

Finally you get to the end of the stage, and onto Sinclaire’s island. Here you have to fight your way to the top of a mountain. There are not only SinTek mercenaries to worry about, but you also have to re-battle some of the monsters like the one Mancini turned into. Getting up to the top you’ll drive a jeep through a section of enemies to a lab. Sadly this is the one section where the controls are HORRIBLE.

You can’t steer very lightly, it’s mainly hard left or right turns. So to get to the top you’ll be letting off the gas, turning, then gassing again. Thankfully it’s a very small part of the overall game. But it is a nuisance.

When you do make it to the top, and slay the last few bad guys though, Elexis captures you, and injects you with U4. What follows is the most difficult, and strange area of the game.

“Area 57” as Elexis calls it has you in the role of the mutant. Clawing is your only weapon, and you can jump slightly higher. You also have to do things just the right way or you have to start over. For instance, if you kill the mechs you can’t get into the pipes to get to the areas you need to go. Doors permanently close behind you so you have to make sure you did everything properly before going through one. Do the stage properly, and you’ll find the antidote to U4, allowing you to go back to being human. After this trial, and error exercise Blade will find himself in a really bizarre area with guys in sacrificial coats, and doing experiments on mutants, and chunks of flesh. When you finally escape this area you interrupt Elexis who is in the midst of a meeting with villainous characters.

She goes on about how she stole her father’s research, and through these twisted experiments she hopes to use her drugs to create the ultimate being. In doing so she can use them to enslave the world, and rule it. Blade crashes the party, and even stops the nuke from being launched.

Only to have her capture him again.

This time though instead of being turned into a mutant monster, Elexis decides to throw you into a giant feeding ground for what has to be the biggest monster boss since the Cyber Demon from DOOM.

This thing is HUGE, and takes a TON of punishment. Even if you found all of the hidden super weapon parts throughout the game (Yeah I forgot to mention that before) it is still going to be a hard fight.

Where as the Cyber Demon from DOOM merely required you to duck out behind a pillar between lobbing tons of gunfire, this thing has no pillars to speak of. There are boxes of ammo for your various guns to be found on structures around the ring, but getting them takes some luck because of how many missiles he fires at you. Not only that but the monster taunts you, after it takes so much damage, and then increases it’s attacks. When you finally do take it down you’ll be treated to one of the most tongue in cheek CGI cut scenes in gaming history.

Elexis is in a chair as Blade confronts her. Instead of shooting her, he allows himself to be tempted by her assets just long enough for her to press a teleport button on the chair conveniently between her legs.

Blade does pull the trigger, but not in time, and she beams herself onto an escape rocket.

Back at the station, JC taunts Blade, and the credits roll.

SiN was a long game for its type, and the story while not the deepest was better than a lot of the thin stories back then. There was also a lot of stuff I didn’t get into, like the myriad of hidden secrets. There are a lot of Easter Eggs in the game if you want to take the time to seek them out. Other technical aspects in the game are pretty good here. The AI, and graphics supported realistic (For the time) limb damage. So characters acted different, depending on the situation. Sometimes they would hide. Other times call for back up. Textures on the models changed to reflect ongoing shoot outs. Shot a guy in the head? A hole appeared, and they usually died instantly. Hit a limb? the texture turned to a blood soaked ripped one, and they ran away. Point blank shotgun blast into a bank robber? His entire torso would giblet.

The last real games to do any of this sort of thing were the sequel to this one, and the Solider of Fortune series (Which sadly only really offered giblets after first one, and it’s low-budget second sequel didn’t even give that.). Sure a lot of games let you hack terminals, but in SiN they went as far as making everything a true command line OS prompt (At least in the vein of the game). Some of them let you type in commands besides simply unlocking a door, or entering passwords. The branching paths were also novel because not too many games around then or even since outside of RPGs really offered that sort of thing. It keeps the game from feeling too linear, and it’s something I wish games would go back to.

I also didn’t really talk about the multiplayer, which by this point is pretty moot. Not too many people play it due to the age, and while it is a fun death match game, other arena shooters, and modern multiplayer games have upset it. Still, you may want to check it out if you have yet to play through SiN. There is also the expansion pack Wages of SiN which is comparable to a modern-day DLC bonus episode. In it, Blade has to take down a crime boss who has somehow managed to get ahold of SinTek’s mutant drug technology. It isn’t very long, but it does have a few references to the main campaign.

This game would eventually find its way to Steam, and GoG. Oddly enough the Steam version had some censored textures throughout the game. The game also disappeared from the Steam store front. Though its sequel is still there. Fortunately, if my review has piqued your interest, it is still on GoG. You can also track down the original physical CD-ROM. Just know that there are a number of issues you may have running it on a modern PC. The GoG version is probably your best bet at this point in time if you’re a retro gamer. Still, for collectors, the original game isn’t terribly expensive or rare.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 (Still worth playing many years later)