We all know about the problems Sin had when it was first released. At least the mammoth patch fixed most of them, helping the game to deliver on its potential as a very good, pure first-person shooter. Now with the Wages of Sin mission pack, fans (and detractors) of the original game can see a bit more of Sin at its best.
Wages of Sin is very much like the original Sin in most ways (but without the game-stopping bugs). The gameplay is exceedingly uncomplicated - see bad guys, kill bad guys, heal, repeat. Forget all comparisons to games like Half-Life or Thief - Wages of Sin is not going to revolutionize the genre. On the contrary, this mission pack is a throwback to the grand "old" days of Duke Nukem 3D, complete with corny one-liners and bikini-clad women. This time around, with the evil Elexis Sinclair seemingly out of the picture, mob boss Gianni Manero is using SinTek scientists to create an army of mutants that he can use to take over Freeport. Once again, you assume the role of ultramacho protagonist John Blade as he hunts down Manero and tries to thwart the criminal's evil schemes. Smart-ass sidekick J.C. supplies you with mission objectives and important intelligence data, as well as the occasional put-down.
In all, the add-on pack offers 17 new missions. The level design for these ranges from good to excellent. A number of stunningly detailed environments, including a dockyard and a really slick casino, more than make up for the few disappointing (or at least, uninspiring) levels. As in the original game, most objects in the game environments are interactive, so you can use, or at the very least blow up, lots of stuff. The game includes 12 new types of enemies, though you'll be fighting mob thugs for the most part. There are also a few mutants thrown into the mix, including a gigantic supermutant boss monster.
Enemy AI seems to have been heavily tweaked throughout, as the bad guys are now more effective at dodging your fire and are occasionally smart enough not to walk through a door and into the barrels of your waiting shotgun. There are also a few spots in which enemies will run through doors that lock behind them, but these appeared to be scripted events and not the work of the AI.
A number of cinematic sequences based on the game engine help to move the single-player plot along, and so long as you don't find the dialogue too predictable and/or offensive, these sequences are pretty good. I ran into one possible glitch near the very end of the game, where Blade must race to stop a catastrophe (how's that for not giving away any plot elements?). The trouble is, one cinematic ends, and before you do anything, another starts up - and in between you're left with this feeling that an entire mission or level was skipped. Perhaps the developers really meant for this segment of the game to be told in cinematics only, but if so, it could've been smoothed out a bit.
Fortunately, your weapon selection has been beefed up substantially in Wages of Sin, with seven new toys added to the arsenal. The most enjoyable single-player weapon is the flamethrower, but in multiplayer mode the guided missile wins hands down. Other items, like the concussion gun and the plasma bow, are rather disappointing - they just don't give the same feeling of wanton destruction that a nice chain gun provides. Additionally, Wages of Sin offers a special hover-bike option for multiplayer mode. This is a pretty slick twist, though it's most enjoyable on the maps where you have room to play both on and off the bikes. You can't use your handheld weaponry while on a bike, but the bikes themselves come equipped with lasers, unguided rockets, and hover mines.
Multiplayer action was Sin's strongest offering, and the same might be said of Wages of Sin. The game offers 12 new multiplayer levels, most of which are pretty well done. In addition, two new gameplay options have been added. Marked for Death has everyone gunning for the informer, who must try to shoot someone else with his informer gun and transfer the burden to that person. The other option is Lynch Mob, where the informer remains the informer for the entire game, and the rest of the players try to hunt him down.
Neither single- or multiplayer Wages of Sin sounds very good. Already something of a problem in the original, the basic sound effects don't seem to have changed much in this mission pack. To make matters worse, the game sounds as though it's being played in a giant tin can. This was on a test machine equipped with a SoundBlaster Live! card, and no matter how many attempts were made to adjust the audio settings (both in the game and through Creative's control panel), the sound quality remained poor. Finally, the game clicked in and out of screen modes at least a dozen times each time I loaded it - and then did it again once or twice each time I moved from menu to gameplay and vice versa. This was very annoying and just should not have happened.
Despite the sound problem and the other minor issues, however, Wages of Sin is a very impressive first-person shooter. If you held onto your copy of Sin and resisted the urge to return it before the patch came out, you should definitely give this mission pack a try. It's not a groundbreaking game experience, but it is a fast-paced, action-packed first-person romp that hearkens back to the classics of the genre.