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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Groove Games

 

Developer

Digital Extremes

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2005

 

 

- Very good multiplayer on Xbox Live
- Good single-player campaign with varied tasks and levels (ending assures there isn’t going to be a Pariah 2, however)
- Map editor allows you to create your own levels, which can be played even on Xbox Live

 

 

- Graphical glitches and stuttering galore, especially during heavy and intense battles
- Annoying loading times
- Idiot enemy A.I. a lot to be desired
- Vehicles don’t add the expected advantage during melees that they should

 

 

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Pariah

Score: 7.8 / 10

 

pariah xbox review         pariah xbox review

 

Numerous first-person shooter games have tried to emulate Halo/Halo 2 and attempt to capture even just a microcosm of that franchise’s success. But as is the case when any game’s blueprint (such as Grand Theft Auto) is copied, few have come close to capturing the originator’s glory. That’s the case with Pariah, yet another game trying for the Halo brass ring and falling short, Although Pariah definitely merits consideration for garnering classification in your Xbox’s “good FPS to play when you want a short respite from Halo 2” game pile. Pariah has a sci-fi story, good FPS levels, good visuals, Halo-like vehicles, a map editor and very good online play, but too many graphical glitches, long load times, and spectacularly dim-witted enemy A.I. ostracize Pariah as a “good, just not anywhere near Halo” title.

The story has you assuming the persona of Doctor Jack Mason on Earth in the year 2520. There’s an infected prisoner to transport, Katrina, and Mason’s drawn the short straw that has him “volunteering” to escort her during a routine prison

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transfer. But the transfer turns out to be anything but routine, and after his transport ship is shot down, Mason finds himself trying to escort the now-free Katrina to safety, while trying to figure out why someone was trying to kill Katrina and apparently him too. Of course, it doesn’t help much that Katrina is an impatient woman, always running off when she should be cooling her hot heels, forcing Mason to pursue her

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over and over.

It turns out Katrina is infected with a blood-based disease that can literally have explosive results for anyone that becomes a victim of the disease itself. Within two minutes of crashing, Mason himself becomes infected by Katrina, who suffers a gunshot wound that has splattered all over Mason’s face and finds its way into his bloodstream. Mason now finds himself with a vested interest in protecting Katrina that he didn’t have two minutes earlier.

The story gets a little convoluted from there, and that’s a shame because it starts out so well. But nonetheless, it’s still good enough that you’ll play through the entire single-player game to see the game’s ending, and when you finally get to Pariah’s conclusion, it’s easy to see why there won’t ever be a Pariah 2 featuring Jack Mason on store shelves.

Action in the game is typical FPS fare, with a decided emphasis on using cover techniques to protect your health as much as possible while at the same time inflicting extreme force. But even if you don’t use cover to your advantage, defeating enemies is relatively easy because the enemy A.I. is pretty lame and simple-minded. One A.I. enemy feature that could have been amazing if it was coupled with outstanding A.I. is that enemies will not just stand around waiting for you to show your head in their line of fire. No, these guys will rush at you once they’ve ascertained your position. But they’re so stupid, they’ll rush right into your gunfire, and you’ll defeat most easily if you have a little patience while you are using environmental cover.

 

pariah xbox review          pariah xbox review


What makes up for the utter dopiness of the A.I. is a visually impressive game. These are some really striking graphics, including the well-devised environments. Plenty of gore and blood from splattered and shot-up soldiers too (which earns Pariah its M-rating, along with some major-league profanity). Add in the Unreal engine with HAVOK ragdoll physics to make those enemy bodies fly through the air after an explosion and you have an above-average visual package. Not quite up to Doom 3 or Halo 2 standards, but closer than might be expected. However, the game has some horrendous glitching graphics, particularly when there’s a lot of action going on the screen at once, such as flames from items on fire and heavily intense battles. Things start to noticeably slow down and stutter awfully, which is a big detraction to your gameplay. The level load times are atrocious too, although to its credit, there’s plenty of automatic save points in Pariah that decrease the amount of backtracking you’ll need to do.

Vehicles that have a suspicious resemblance to Halo 2 vehicles are part of both the single-player and multiplayer gameplay. However, while they seemingly offer a strong advantage during fighting, they somehow don’t really have the firepower to be anything more than a novelty to Pariah’s warfare. Another gimmick that doesn’t work out to the benefit of gamers is the upgradeable weaponry of Pariah. By collecting power-ups during gameplay, you can “upgrade” your weaponry to have supposedly stronger and more proficient killing features. But while they are stronger, they don’t tilt you much of an advantage as you would think. It’s a nice feature that works somewhat, but certainly not as well as the developers probably banked on.

One feature that is a big bonus is Pariah’s map editor. You can create your own maps with a very detailed editor program, and what’s really great is that these custom-created levels can be played online.

Speaking of online gameplay, Pariah does multiplayer via Xbox Live very well indeed. There are the standard online games to play, plus a few new ones, Front Line Assault and Siege. I consider the gameplay speed of Halo 2 to be just perfect for online playing compared to the too-fast, vertigo-inducing rapidness of Unreal Championship and Doom 3. Pariah hits the target of Halo 2 speed, and some of the multiplayer levels are comparable to the high quality of Halo 2 maps. Setting up games isn’t difficult, although it isn’t as easy and intuitive as Halo 2’s.

There are a few flaws that fracture Pariah as a game, but a better-than-you’d-expect single-player mode coupled with a very good online setup give Pariah enough of an advantage over other Halo wannabes as a perfect alternative to the mass contingent of Xbox FPS online gamers that play Halo 2.

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(June 27, 2005)

 

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