Video Game Review: Sin and Punishment
Sin and Punishment
The Nintendo 64 had a handful of good games that never managed to see a U.S. release, for one reason or another -- often due to Japanese cultutral idiosyncharsies. Bangai-O comes immediately to mind. There was one unlocalized game that stood above the rest though. That game was Sin and Punishment. And in the case of Sin and Punishment, I don't know what to say about it's lack of release other than... What happened? The game has full English voice acting, and by N64 or PS1 standards, it's not half bad. Sin and Punishment is the type of game that was prepped and polished to a mirror shine, and it was ready to take the U.S. market by storm. By all reasoning, it should have been remembered as one of the best rail shooters around. Except it didn't, because it wasn't released. If you were to seek out alternative methods of playing this game though (and it's available right on the Wii's virtual console) you'd be in for a treat.
Over the course of the game, you'll be taking control of several different characters, but they all play the same. Your character will run through stages armed with a gunsword, as those were pretty popular around the time this game came out. You move the control stick to take aim at the enemies around you, and you press Z to fire. The Z-button also doubles as your sword attack; press it when you're close enough to an enemy, and you'll slash them for a huge amount of damage. The sword can also be used to bat back projectile attacks, adding some variety to the mix. On the defensive side of things, you use the C-buttons to move your characters from side to side on the screen, double-tapping them in order to perform evasive rolls. The R button can be used for a single leap, or can be tapped twice in succession for a double-jump. The range of abilities offered really separates Sin and Punishment from other games in the genre, like, say, House of the Dead. Here, simply shooting enemies really won't be enough to get you through a mission and it definitely won't be enough to take out one of the game's many boss battles (a high point of the game for sure.)
Short but Sweet
Sin and Punishment is actually a really short game, though perhaps not for its genre. It clocks in at roughly one hour. It will be an hour that delivers a totally unique experience that's unlike anything usually found in this type of game, though. Yes, the core gameplay has been done before, but the presentation of this game is without peers. Sin and Punishment has some of the best graphics to grace the fifth generation of consoles, parts of it being impressive even today. Whether its gunning along the futuristic highways, chasing down a giant worm in a launch hangar, or spiraling through the skies while taking on an entire armada singlehandedly, Sin and Punishment keeps things fresh. No two areas are the same, and they all seem to crank the dial to eleven.
The greatest flaw of Sin and Punishment is that it's story is not particularly good. In fact, it's largely incoherent. This is forgivable considering how much fun the game is, but I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed. The graphics are so good, and there was clearly a great deal of effort put into the game's cutscenes; and there are a lot of them. Sin and Punishment had the potential to do for the rail-gunner, what Metal Gear Solid did for action games. It had the potential to be a true cinematic gaming experience. It still kind of was, but the developers didn't put enough time into the script-writing process. To be honest, I ended up just hitting the start button to skip through some of the scenes by the end of the game. Despite this fault, though, I have nothing less than a stellar impression of the game. I'm somewhat ashamed that it took me so long to discover this gem.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10