Pariah (Xbox)

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Written by  :  Spartan_234 (464)
Written on  :  Feb 25, 2006
Platform  :  Xbox
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The most enjoyable first-person shooter since Halo 2.

The Good

Well...pretty much everything.

Graphics The game's graphics are better than in Doom 3, using the trusty Unreal 2 engine for the visual effects. Once you start looking at the astounding outdoor environments, it's not so hard to figure out why this game was cancelled on the PS2.

Audio Aside from the repetitive enemy taunts (which is typical for this kind of game), the audio is every bit as top-notch as the graphics: footstep noises that largely depend on what you're stepping or jumping on, cool futuristic noises when using objects or upgrading weapons, great voice acting, and a movie-quality musical score by Tim Larkin (the same guy who composed the music for the Myst games).

Gameplay The most important part of any game, the gameplay in Pariah is the icing on the cake. The weapons are just plain awesome. You have a Bulldog (a machine gun), frag rifle (a shotgun), a sniper rifle, a plasma gun, a grenade launcher, and a rocket launcher. "What, only six guns?" you say. Don't panic. You can pick up weapon energy cores to upgrade your already excellent weaponry. All weapons can be upgraded a maximum of three times. The first upgrade will require 1 WEC. The second upgrade will require 2 WECs. The third upgrade is the ultimate upgrade and will require 3 WECs. Upgrading a gun still retains its basic functionality, it just makes a gun more powerful in a certain way. For example, upgrading the Bulldog once will increase the rate of fire, upgrading it twice will increase its accuracy, and upgrading it the third time will increase the damage that the bullets dish out. Upgrading a rocket launcher once will make the missiles heat-seek, upgrading it twice will increase the damage of the rockets and have it fire two rockets at once, and upgrading it the third time will make it fire four rockets at once. You get the picture? However, most of the WECs are hidden in secret ares (with a few exceptions), so only the most keen-eyed player will be able to fully upgrade all of the weapons. All of the weapons are utterly satisfying to use, thanks to the realistic weapon sounds and appropriately rough gamepad vibration effects. As such, the game is an action-packed blast from start to finish; the action will never stop for a tedious puzzle or a boring item search, so those who didn't like Half-Life should feel right at home with this game.

Your health bar consists of four blocks. Partially full blocks will refill about 5 seconds after taking damage. Doesn't that remind you of Master Chief's shields in Halo? Anyways, to increase your health, you don't pick up generic "med-kits" or "boosters" or whatever. Since your main character is a doctor, he always has his healing tool handy. It's a useful device that injects materials into you that will increase your health. The game's interface uses it as a weapon, and each "clip" contains 4 blocks worth of health. Injecting too much of it at once results in visual blurriness. The healing tool can be upgraded with WECs; the first upgrade will make it inject quicker, the second upgrade will increase your health capacity to five blocks, and the third upgrade will increase your health capacity to six blocks. Sprinting in Pariah will also cause visual blurriness, and you cannot wield your gun while sprinting. As in Doom 3, sprinting for too long will cause you to stop sprinting for a few seconds, and you will hear your heartbeat after you stop sprinting.

As in Halo, there are vehicular action sequences where one person will drive a vehicle, and another person will use the car's guns. If only the driver is in the car (which is the case most of the time in the single-player game), he/she can just put the pedal to the metal and run over an enemy.

The game's Havok-powered physics are also great, as well. They allow you to do a lot of other cool stuff to the game world, like pushing dead bodies around and destroying objects. After all, nothing is much more satisfying than killing an enemy and then pushing his dead body off into the water...or shooting a pillar that will then fall onto an enemy, killing him...or watching an enemy run past an exploding barrel, just for you to shoot it, blowing him into the sky...or shooting a barrel full of toxic gas that'll poison the enemy...

Artificial Intelligence Pariah's AI does not disappoint. In addition to shooting at you (of course -- how else would they be your enemy?), these guys circle-strafe, duck, and run like hell in an attempt to find some cover to hide behind (they can even run backwards!). You will likely miss some of your shots when battling some of these enemies, but they are still very possible to take down.

The Bad

Nothing! It rocks!

The Bottom Line

Pariah mixes the perfect ingredients together to make a completely absorbing first-person shooter that makes Doom 3 and the first Halo look lame by comparison. It isn't really a Halo 2-killer, but it's definitely right up there. Don't just sit should actually be at the store buying this game by now, right?