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SiN Episodes; BioShock Interview

I admit to having decried PC gaming somewhat lately, but PC game fans at Oddball Update can rejoice today for more than one reason.

First and foremost, the release date has finally come for SiN Episodes: Emergence, the first of the SiN sequel’s nine chapters to be released in an episodic fashion during the course of 2006. This game looks positively stunning. Using the Half-Life 2 Source engine, Ritual Entertainment has built upon some strong tech and brought their classic style and sense of humor to it, making for an almost Duke Nukem-like experience. Episode one is available for direct purchase via Valve’s Steam system, or in a retail box at your favorite game store. Introductory pricing is $17.99, and the first episode is estimated to provide 6-8 hours of gameplay. (One forum member jokingly clarified, “That’s about the same as a full Metal Gear game if you skip all the cutscenes.”)

And that Dukey feeling I mentioned? It isn’t just subconscious. Former 3D Realms level designer Levelord, who designed many of the levels for Duke Nukem 3D (and whom I actually used to chat with back in the days of CompuServe), has contributed his awesome-as-ever work to the SiN Episodes project. There’s even a classic 3D Realms easter egg — the Dopefish — hidden in a secret area. As with Duke3D, expect lots of signature signage and pop-culture sight gags to abound. There’s even a sign that says OH SNAP: WE BEAT DNF OUT TWICE! (The original SiN was released in 1997 back when we all foolishly thought Duke Nukem Forever might appear sometime before the turn of the century.) Take that, George Broussard.

While SiN is here today, BioShock is coming tomorrow. As in, 2007. Though that seems a long way away, you can help reduce the pain by checking out this incredible interview IGN conducted with Irrational Games’ creative director and head of the BioShock project, Ken Levine. Oftentimes developer interviews are a snooze, but Ken’s comments make for a fascinating read. This guy is a true creative powerhouse, and it shows in the way his remarks run off unchecked like somebody who lives their entire life by stream of consciousness. There are also a ton of details about BioShock unveiled, and it’s virtually guaranteed that if you loved System Shock 2, you’re going to love this game. All the awesome stuff about Shock 2 — the abandoned, post-apocalyptic environment; the audio logs; the hacking; the RPG elements and character upgrades; the freeform gameplay mechanic — it’s all back, but in a brand new setting that’s even more disturbing than the Von Braun starship. Just read the interview — it’s a peach.

As an added bonus, Gamespot has posted their impressions of the realtime BioShock demo exhibited at this year’s E3, and there’s some juicy gameplay hints in their article. Whereas my “hype level” was lukewarm before, now I can’t wait for BioShock. Unlike SiN, it will be available on Xbox360 as well as PC, so we get to pick our poision. Honestly, though, I may go PC on this one…I can’t imagine an interface like Shock 2’s being done on a console, and I hope they don’t dumb it down.