Pariah (Windows)

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Written by  :  Nick Drew (412)
Written on  :  Mar 10, 2007
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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A derivative shooter which moves very well, and simply works on its own terms.

The Good

This game was fairly well panned by game critics upon release, and admittedly some of the blows hit the right targets in truth, but from a different viewpoint there are some otherwise unassuming positive aspects that make it a worthwhile look. This is the developer of the Unreal Tournament series first stab at creating a single player campaign oriented outing, while there is a small degree of teething visible, despite this, it remains a solid effort.

Of course, the UT game engine is employed here, and while not at the time the bleeding edge of tech, it is a darn fine engine, well scaled in particular, and this sort of scalability makes it a good choice for older systems, and I can attest to having played it using an old Geforce 3 Ti with only 64 meg onboard, and the game ran as smooth as you like.

The game-play is your average one-man army against all odds scenario, with a paper thin story line which is of little consequence in truth, but in a straight faced shooter like this, the obligatory plot is only stapled on to give the action some sort of coherency, and if there is something interesting here it is an added bonus. So, what we have here, essentially a fairly slick looking textbook FPS, and of course there has to be some kind of gimmick thrown in as a hook, and here it is weapons’ upgrade. Hardly original right? , Well yes, Gunman Chronicles went a similar direction a couple of years earlier, but it is still a good inclusion, and well implemented. More on that later.

I suppose what makes up Pariah, are the developers took all the things they liked best from various shooters and packed it all into their own game, which isn’t much of a stretch, as it has been rampant since the inception of the genre. One fairly obvious title that is liberally “borrowed” from is Halo, a game, in my opinion which is far over hyped, and simply received a surplus of attention because it was release on the fledgling machine amongst only a handful of weaker titles, and there was no real alternative, but that’s not to say it isn’t an above average shooter. If Microsoft hadn’t of consumed Bungie, they would have simply released it on their home platform, Apple Mac, and it would have developed a fervent fan base there, but the world most likely wouldn’t have cared less. I also believe the games title, which denies its Marathon roots, is to make it seem like there is no connection to the past Mac titles, as Bungie ardently claims, but it’s a pack of lies I think, to make Halo, and sequels seem completely uniquely original, which just isn’t so.

So I’m getting off track, but I had to get that out my system, anyway there are many cool vehicles, mounted weapons and other interactive stuff here that makes this a lot of fun, such as three-wheeled buggies, that handle like, well . . ., something with three wheels, needless to say it takes some practise getting the hang of it, but it makes for an interesting ride nonetheless. Others include more convention, and very Halo-esque four-wheel contraptions suitably covered with roll-bars, ready to rock and roll (literally). There as some certain bits on rails, as is fashionable of late, where here you take control of a cannon on the back of a moving vehicle, while another drives. I like it when these sorts of bits are peppered in, as it gives you a nice change of pace from the standard style of play.

The enemy AI here isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, with chiefly just some general ducking, weaving and hanging back to force you to make the first move, but ambushes are fairly common, so this side of things keeps you firmly on your toes. In terms of weapons, you have the usual assortment; a machine-gun, shotgun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher and sniper rifle, the last of which has a particularly neat upgrade, in the form of thermograph imaging, which is an interesting visual effect, and of course makes for a handy way of quickly spotting the enemies. Upgrades are simply collectables that can be found scarcely throughout the various landscapes and structures, but add a personal touch to the play, as you can pick and choose which weapons to upgrade according to your preference. Health kits are collected as for weapon ammo, and are used like a pressurised injection, and this facet of the game is taken from the more little known Russian FPS Kreed, as is much of the visual style of the weaponry, incidentally, whereby they are quite chunky and sport colourful overtones in some instances.

Overall visually, there is a bunch of nice effects thrown in, such as the haze effect of burning fire, and the motion blur after a health booster, and the usual assortment of fogging, lighting and particle effects. A particularly notable, albeit subtle touch, are the way flora gently sways in the breeze, such as plant life and tree leaves, which adds a kind of believability to the game world.

The Bad

Not a whole lot of niggles, and none genuinely disastrous. There is a general lack of variety in enemies classes, so things can get a bit repetitive in this area. Other than that, as long as the game has the final definitive patch applied, everything goes smoothly.

The Bottom Line

The play in essence basically sees you constantly moving from one point to the next, in and out of ground installations, blasting scores of enemies, and getting around the huge outdoor environs utilising the various cool vehicles, and the action rarely stops, coupled with the great UT engine, makes for some aesthetically pleasing, straight out action extravaganza that is hard to fault in terms of sheer entertainment value. Highly unoriginal, sure, with a “yeah, me too” quality, but it plays very well and certainly has its moments, so is definitely worthy of some attention.