XBOX REVIEW: PARIAH

Pariah is a great looking shooter but it's not all that and a bag of chips, if you know what I mean.

Pariah has multi-personality disorder. It's loaded with features and options but they all don't add up to one cohesive game. The single-player mode is relatively easy but you have many options in the multi-player mode to make the game more difficult and ultimately different since you are replacing the AI with more aggressive human players. It's like a totally different game. With the map editor you can rearrange all of the outdoor environments as well as the spawning areas. Some on-rails and vehicle levels are included but they do little more than offer a diversion.

It's doubtful that any one player will like everything that Pariah has to offer, but if you're in the market for a solid shooter marinated in eye candy then look no further. Pariah tunnels just below the surface so it's no completely shallow but Halo it's not.

Dr. Jack Mason is entrusted with the care of a female patient who carries a deadly virus. While escorting her through enemy territory they survive a crash landing. Mason becomes infected with the disease while trying to stop the girl from escaping. He must now use all of the equipment that he can scavenge from the craft, and the dead, while he tries to locate this girl and save himself from succumbing to the virus.

Other than create a panic situation the story doesn't have much impact on the gameplay. The voiceovers do little to endear you to the characters which is too bad because the visuals are excellent. The cutscenes look like a digital generated movie but the voices remind you that you're playing a videogame.

Beginning with a bone saw, this close-range, melee weapon cuts a swath through the enemy. You can alternate between melee and ranged weapons at the push of a button. There's a slight delay when changing so you have to do it at the opportune moment. The guns are huge and powerful. They pack a wallop and do tons of damage. Aiming is very forgiving. The Bulldog is a massive machine that will make mincemeat out of the enemy. Almost all of the weapons are capable of one-hit kills. They are so effective that you won't even use your melee weapons much at all.

Although you have the Bulldog, shotguns and a sniper rifle, nothing is more effective than the grenade launcher. It simply rocks. You can take out a number of enemies by firing into the crowd. Each weapon can be upgraded three times. Not all of the upgrades automatically make the weapons more powerful, some may include more ammo or even a protective shield.

You will have four life bars at the start of each life. A healing tool left in the wreckage will allow you to recharge your bar when they begin to get low. You lose one bar if it drains completely. Using the healing tool leaves you vulnerable to attack and it also makes the screen blurry so you must also use this at the right time.

Mason has basic, but useful moves. He's not complicated to control and that's fine with me. The landscapes are large wastelands rife with rocks, rivers and sinkholes. Mason is able to jump long and far which makes it easy to navigate over some of this inhospitable terrain. He also has the ability to sprint, which is a bit longer than a dash, which allows him to get out of overwhelmingly dangerous circumstances. In some instances you can pull a little stealth on the enemy by hiding behind things. They're not the brightest enemies and will often leave you enough time to prepare your next move or weapon. If you get into a tight situation it's usually your own fault.

Online play is loaded with modes and features. Aside from the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Quickmatch and Optimatch, you can adjust the difficulty, chose weapon systems and create new maps which can be uploaded with the map editor. A dedicated server will include a friends' list and accommodate up to 12 players with no lag or slowdown. Sweet.

It feels good to have the upper hand but it feels better if you earn it. One can't help but feel that the single-player mode is designed to appeal to cheat code users. The forgiving weapon accuracy, the healing tool, the unchallenging AI and convenient checkpoints all combine to make things fast-paced and easy. At least the multi-player modes will allow you to test your mettle against other players although the weapons are still almost too powerful. But if that's what you like, Pariah is for you.

Preview by Chris

Pariah is the newest FPS from the people who brought Unreal Championship to the Xbox System. While it looks and will have that FPS feel and controls, it will also have some features you would not expect in an FPS game. An intense single-player mode with a great story and a great map editor will be just two of the features in this one. The game will allow you to use objects, vehicles and even the chance to use parts of the buildings to defend your group or destroy those who are hunting you. Also the chances to upgrade your weapons to unbelievable strength and of course a huge multi-player mode are included. It sounds like Digital Extremes wants to try and be a contender with some other huge FPS tittles arriving soon.

Pariah is a long way from being complete but those who had a chance to play the few single-player levels walked away impressed. The story will focus around a character named Jack Mason and his squad as they try and lead the fight for freedom. You will need more than a good aim to play this one. Knowing what skilled players to include in your squad will also be a key to the game. Medics, artillery specialists and other talented personnel will be available. This will add plenty of options. If you have a medic in your squad, you are more likely to be healed and the chances of someone dying become less. We also know players can jump into any vehicle and while one person drives, the other person can defend or engage the enemy.

The screen shots look good so far in this futuristic FPS game. There are also plans for a PS2 version later on with the same options added. We will have more details on this one as soon as we can. For now take a look at the great screen shots and you will notice a few interesting things.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Digital Extremes
Pub: Groove Games
Released: May 2005
Players: 1- Multi Online
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
4.0