Pariah, Pariah, pants on fire.
Publisher: Groove Games
Sat, 23 July 2005
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Oh, man, another First Person Shooter (what do they release, like 15 of these a day?). And this is a highly derivative one at that. Great, just what I need. Well, I guess I better give it a shot all the same. Hey, this is kind of cool, nothing special but still decent fun and it looks rather nice as well. Four hours laterâ€¦my eyes are glued to the monitor. Yep, I think it is safe to say Pariah really grew on me.
Pariah is a very standard FPS in almost every respect; it really offers nothing that hasn't been done before. Every aspect of Pariah from its sci-fi setting, to its aesthetics, to its weapons, to its core gameplay has been "inspired," or taken, directly from other games. You will feel very much at home here if you have spent any time with games such as Half Life, Far Cry, Quake and especially Halo.
This kind of common familiarity is really nothing new for the genre (or games in general). So, despite all of that, the further I got into Pariah the more enjoyable I found it to be. Like I always say, that's all I really ask any game to be; fun.
I think the game's story might be a little stronger than the average (which is not saying much). There's something about a virus and...I forget the rest. The problem with it, and the majority of videogame plots for that matter, is that it is so damn generic. Rather than truly create something of their own, it is more like they watched a bunch of sci-fi movies in a row, took a little bit out of each and whacked it all together in the way they assume people expect these things to be done. They all tend to be presented in a near identical fashion and this results in them all being mostly forgettable.
They get these huge budgets for games now days and they probably think they are making something as enjoyable as a movie in terms of plot. If so, they are wrong. Games (not all, but certainly most) are still a long, long way behind movies when it comes to telling decent, engaging stories. The way Pariah's plot is paced makes it far too drawn out, especially for what really amounts to such little substance. As a result, it failed to capture my full attention. If a sci-fi film told its story in such a laboured, needlessly confusing manner, the audience would probably get extremely frustrated and disappointed with the experience. Actually, I think that already did happen with those Matrix sequels.
One thing I did quite like about the story was the cutscenes used to tell it; a few of them were very nice to look at.
I have gone on an awful lot about the story, but that's mainly because I'm having trouble thinking of anything else to tell you about Pariah. If you're reading this review you are probably a gamer and therefore you already know what to expect from this one.
|Halo...is it me you're looking for? |
Viewed from the first person perspective, you run around and shoot things, get in the occasional vehicle, drive that around, shoot things some more. Every so often you reach a 'boss' character and you have to take them down by...shooting things. There's just nothing new here, but it is mostly done well.
There is one thing Pariah has that's a bit new, which is the way you can upgrade your weapons throughout the game by collecting the...ahh, weapon upgrade thingys (okay, it isn't really new at all, but that's the closest we're going to get here). That's pretty cool and there's a definite sense of power when you get a weapon to its highest level. Even so, it hardly alters the action in any significant way; you are still using those weapons to shoot things.
Pariah is an all 'round good looking game. It uses the Unreal engine and it uses it well. What a sturdy engine it is too; I had Pariah running on my PC with all details set to the highest level and it all stayed constantly smooth. That's not something I could do with either Doom 3 or Far Cry. Of course Pariah is not as outright stunning to look at as Doom 3 either, but it is still quite impressive overall. I played some of the Xbox version of the game and that too looked very nice. If you have the choice of format, I'd recommend the PC version, as long as you have a reasonably powerful system, because it really looks quite a bit better than the console one. However, either way it looks pretty sweet. Gameplay/control wise, again I found the PC one slightly smoother and therefore superior, but for the most part they are identical.
The only problem with the graphics is that many of the levels, particularly some of the indoor sections, look extremely reminiscent of other games. At times you could swear this was Halo, it looks so similar. It might be lazy design, or maybe just a big coincidence (highly doubtful), but in the end I didn't really care because it still looked good. The outdoor levels are quite beautiful at times too, particularly with the nice little touches such as the leaves falling from trees and the various sunlight effects. Again, this stuff has all been done before in other FPS titles, but it works, so I'm not complaining.
One visual problem, is that there's little variety in the enemy characters. It didn't bother me too much personally, as I was having too much fun killing them to care that they mostly looked identical. But they probably could have spent a bit more time with that and made these foes a touch more individual and creative to look at.
Pariah's audio is, yet again, very standard stuff. You will feel as though you've heard this music before and that's because, essentially, you have. It is another thing that this game seems to have taken straight from others. Still, the music does its thing and is mostly appropriate. The weapon effects are just okay, they really could have made some of them a little more "explosive" to listen too, they just don't sound as devastating as I'd like. But a few them do make some good noises, to help add to the satisfaction of blowing away bad dudes.
The voice work is Pariah's biggest aural downfall. It isn't poorly done or anything, in fact it is above average, especially during the cut scenes. The problem is that the enemies like to talk and taunt you throughout the game, nothing wrong with that, except that all have a total of about 5 pieces of dialogue which they tend to repeat over and over again.
|Just, relaxing, being at one with nature, shooting some people, you know how it is. |
So, not only do all the bad guys look the same, they all sound the same way and speak the same exact words too! Maybe they're Jango Fett style clones. All I know is they are annoying bastards, the lot of 'em. It is just as well you are meant to kill them, because before long you will really be wanting to.
Words are not the only thing the enemy characters repeat in Pariah. They also tend to always use the same set of attack patterns. The AI is a bit crappy at times. It is certainly not as solid and impressive as that of some of the games Pariah otherwise so closely resembles. It isn't that bad, just a bit patchy and, like I said, they tend to only use a couple of tactics every time. If you set the difficulty to the highest (or even second highest) level, things do improve to a certain extent. That way, those so inclined should be able to get a decent level of challenge out of the game. Mind you, for some of those mad keen FPS players out there, this is still probably not going to test them too much.
Basically, it comes down to whether or not you really want to play another game that is so much like others you have likely already gone through. If you love Halo, and some of the other ones I mentioned earlier, and you'd like a similar experience, you should be able to thoroughly enjoy Pariah. Some of the levels in the game are really cool and well designed, I was most taken with the one that took place on the speeding train-like vehicle (yeah, that has been done in other games too, but it was still good).
I actually didn't think I was going to like it much, but I ended up having a very good time with it. Maybe this was a case of the game appealing to me more as a pleasant surprise, due to my relatively low expectations, I can't say for sure. I do know that I played it, on a few separate occasions, for almost the full day (or night) straight and had fun doing so.
If you're after something new, look elsewhere. If you're after another solid, nice looking and fun FPS, I'd say Pariah should be one to put near the top of your list.
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More articles by Hillelman
Extremely unoriginal, but still fun. Pariah makes good use of a very solid engine.