October 15, 2006
They Call The Wind Pariah
Digital Extremes / Xbox PC / Mature
With Pariah, Unreal developers Digital Extremes attempt to crossover into a serious FPS. The lazy results show they would do best to stick to the unreal type of game which they obviously enjoy making more.
You play Dr. Jack Mason who has been assigned to transport a cryogenically frozen prisoner who carries some sort of killer virus. His transport ship is shot down by rebels in the mountains and (surprise!) Jack and frozen virus lady are the only survivors. Dr. Mason, who is surprisingly proficient in small arms, for a MD, must then find the Popsicle girl and, in turn, kill everyone in his way. Sound stupid and confusing? It is.
To its credit Pariah does attempt to advance the FPS with several new and interesting features including: destructible environments, breakable enemy visors, and, the best part of the whole game, the map maker which allows wannabe designers to show off their creations via Xbox Live. However, it seems for every good thing one can say about this game one can say twice as many things about lazy design and a lack of polish. Framerate stutters abound, along with sloppy animation and some of the dumbest AI from recent memory. How dumb? They never take cover, conduct suicide bombings, and the flamethrower guys tend to set their comrades and themselves on fire.
Pariah also seems to find little ways to bring the FPS backwards instead of pushing it foreword. FPS staples like tossable grenades and a melee gun move are gone instead you must cope with the low-capacity grenade launcher and the energy knife, which is a hassle to pull out and utterly useless. Also, remember the mysteriously floating powerups and ammo of yesteryear? They have returned with a vengeance.
By far, the most frustrating part of the single player experience is the health boosts. Normal FPS conventions tell us that when one picks up a health pack ones health is immediately restored, but Pariah has to test you. The health is handled by a health tool that you must pull from your inventory and then hold fire to use, and as if that wasn’t complicated enough the thing has to be reloaded! All this makes most short range fire fights into suicide missions and adds a completely unnecessary challenge to go along with Dr. Mason’s already small health bars.
In the end this is a game primarily for those who would love to show off their level design skills online. The single-player experience is so full of holes it’s pretty much not even worth using for multiplayer practice. For those who have exhausted all their other online options this one’s worth a try, but for anyone not even gaming online, or still enjoying the copious amounts of better games on each platform, you can skip the frustration.
By Zack Rovinsky