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(hx) 06:50 AM EDT - May,23 2005

Pariah is a story-based first-person shooter from Digital Extremes - best known for its work with Epic on the Unreal, its expansion Return to Na Pali and Unreal Tournament. In both story and gameplay, Pariah borrows heavily from the sci-fi genre and other first-person shooters. The year is 2520, the Earth has been stripped, fouled, and depopulated, and now serves as a very large and badly-managed prison. You play the role of Dr. Jack Mason, disgraced medical doctor assigned to escort a cryogenically suspended woman, a prisoner, to Earth. The woman (named Karina) carries a mysterious virus. As you are transporting your prisoner off planet, there is an explosion and your ship goes crashing to earth. You and your prisoner, Karina, survive throughout the game you will have to work with Karina to survive and the game unfolds as you try and work out what the mystery is about your patient.

The single player portion of the game includes 18 single-player levels - you will play through both indoor and outdoor areas from a deep dark forest, to desert canyons, a futuristic train a place called the Anvil. The weapons themselves will feel somewhat familiar to anybody who has played a significant amount of first person shooters - Rocket Launcher, Grenade launcher, Assault rifle (Bulldog), Sniper Rifle, Shotgun (Frag Rifle) and Plasma Gun. You can customize and upgrade each weapon you have with Weapon Energy Cores. As you upgrade your weapon it gives you different features and uses. For instance, the sniper upgrade that gives you an infrared scope, the Frag Rifle upgrade make the weapon reload faster, etc. However, sometimes the upgrade doesn't seem to make much of a difference. I personally think the weapons are unbalanced. The assault rifle is ineffective, the shotgun equivalent is mostly harmless, the rocket launcher takes forever to reload, and the plasma gun feels weak. The only accurate/effective weapon in the game is the sniper rifle. Sometimes I found myself getting frustrated with having to shoot the same person about 10 times before they actually die but once you fully upgrade all you weapons things become a little easier. Something else that hinders the weapons is the lousy sound.

Pariah tries to mix up the gameplay with a few rail shooting segments and vehicular combat with enemies both on other vehicles and on foot .The vehicles feel slow and are easily destroyed by explosive weapons, but they provide a welcome break to the action. The only thing I didn't like was the Halo-like method of steering vehicles. Trying to shoot & steer with the same control method can be difficult at times. Using the Havok Physics engine the environments are destructible you can shoot out pylons to a bridge causing it to collapse killing any enemies underneath. Or shoot holes in a steam pipe to hurt nearby enemies. What about the AI? Well, the bad guys are dumb. This is one of the game's major faults. You can play on the third difficulty level and you can still run up to enemies and chop'em up with the Bonesaw (a melee weapon) while taking a very little damage. Yeah, the badies can be beated by Serious Sam-like tactics, so you can have some fun for awhile, however, it wasn't very convincing for me.

Pariah also includes 13 multiplayer maps and 3 game modes - DM, TDM, CTF and Frontline Assault for up to 32 players. The Frontline Assault mode is similar to Unreal Tournament 2004's popular onslaught mode. In frontline assault, two teams battle it out for control points on the map, but they must capture them in sequence in order to move the front lines. In addition, Pariah comes with what looks like a pretty cool M.A.P. Editor that allows you to create your own arenas of death. The game features several templates, so all you need to do is select one and paint your virtual canvas. Pretty easy even for the newbies.

For those of you who have been FPS lovers for a long time, this game may just be a variation on a theme. However, there's nothing you have not played before.

related links: homepage, SP demo, MP demo, patch v1.01, cheats, official forum

Minimum system requirements: Intel Pentium III or an AMD Athlon, 256MB RAM, 100% DirectX  9.0 compatible 64MB hardware accelerated video card and the latest drivers *, a Windows compatible sound card, CD-ROM 4x, 2.4 GB free disk space, TCP/IP and LAN play are supported (a 56K modem is the minimum requirement)

* Supported chipsets: ATI Radeon 8500/9000/9200/9500/9600/9700/9800/X series, Nvidia GeForce 3/Ti series, GeForce 4/Ti series, GeForce FX series, GeForce 6 series

snd: 3/5 - mediocre, weak weapon sound effects, enemies have the same basic voiceclips, uninspired voice acting, fairly good music
gfx: 3/5 - good, but not great; solid physics (Havok physics engine), some destructible terrain, some nice special weapon effects
playability: 4/5 - run-n-gun, vehicles for use, lots of multiplayer modes (up to 32 players), map editor, little too generic, no quick save, poor AI, movements feels a bit weird & slow
genre: first-person shooter
platform: PC (also available on Xbox)
release: May 2005
developer: Digital Extremes
the game is similar to: a cross between Halo and UT2k4
publisher: Groove Games
Overall: 70%

last 10 comments:

xxxx(12:48 PM EDT - May,23 2005 )
For those of you who have been FPS lovers for a long time, this game may just be a variation on a theme. However, there's nothing you have not played before.

Agree fully. I'd get it for those reasons really. gfx don't look that bad at all. Wondering about MP community though, how many are playing etc.

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