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game: Pariah
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat Jul 10th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat Jul 10th, 2004

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By Blaine Krumpe

Out of the tremendous success of the Unreal series of games comes a new forerunner in the FPS genre. Its name is Pariah, and once you see it, you'll never want to play anything else. Digital Extremes has developed a game that will set a new standard in storyline, graphics, and multiplayer capabilities.

Jack Mason is a doctor who is struggling with his will to continue, that is, until he nearly looses his life in a transport crash. Mason and the other survivor named Karina must make their way from the prison sector they've landed in before a fifty-megaton wipes it from existence. This wasteland and prison planet is not some far-flung place, however. It's Earth.

While I was at E3, I had the privilege to talk to Matthieu, one of the programmers of the eighteen-person team developing Pariah. He was an energetic man with a love for his work.

The game is set far into the future with a character that is thrust into a role he must act out in order to survive. He must lead Karina out of a hell called Earth before they are obliterated. The thing is, the prisoners know the quarantined area is about to be eradicated, which leads to a number of potentially lethal problems for Mason and Karina as they fight their way to safety.

The graphics on this game are unbelievable; I dare say they are the best on any game I saw at E3, leaps and bounds beyond UT4. The graphics engine is based on a heavily modified Unreal engine and state of the art Havok physics technology. The weapons effects and the environment in which you play in are simply unbelievable. One of the weapons that you can have is some sort of a propane grenade thrower. Matthieu demonstrated it to me. He crouched down and launched one of these projectiles at a prisoner, gleefully showing off the resulting explosion. It was amazing. The prisoner disappeared in what looked like, well, a propane ball vaporizing the air, and his limp body cartwheeled through the air to land on another already dead inmate. The two bodies formed a teepee on the ground. I couldn't help but smile. Matthieu then proceeded to demonstrate another gun. As you hold the trigger down, the gun creates ripples in the air that are similar to the ones rising from the highway in the dead of summer. When he released the trigger, another prisoner was sent flying in an explosion that looked incredibly realistic. He said that this was just a taste of the dynamic physics and environmental factors that will blow your mind away when the game ships next spring.

A step up from the random picking up of guns and ammo that accompany most FPS, Pariah will incorporate WECS (Weapon Energy Cores) into game play. This new feature is for those of you eager to modify your character, and it's awesome. Upon picking up a WEC you are given a choice of whether to upgrade your gun or your dash speed. During game play you are able to run at a turbo pace for short periods of time. Your speed and length of burn can be upgraded with WECS. For the weapons, WECS upgrade their killing ability with various new explosions and increased power. For example, upon picking up a WEC, you could upgrade your rocket launcher to one that shoots napalm rockets, or homing rockets; your assault rifle can be upgraded to incorporate a scope for sniping. Upon your death, other players in multiplayer mode are able to pick up your WECS that you leave behind. Matthieu said that this new feature of upgrading yourself and your weapons creates a more strategic game; no longer are you just barreling down upon each other guns ablaze. For health in the game, little packs are gone forever. You now have a handheld device that you must actively use in order to heal yourself. This healer? also can be used on other people in order to drug them.

Vehicles in Pariah are completely destroyable. They vary from a three-wheeled motorcycle to a hulking beast that Matthieu said he couldn't show me in fear of getting himself fired. The weapons accompanying the vehicles will be similar to the ones you are able to carry around with you, albeit, a little more deadly. Besides the fifteen single player missions, with their varying length and intensity, there will be thirty multiplayer maps. Ranging from close quarter deathmatch scenarios in the city, to sprawling deserts and forests ripe for team battles, destroy the base, or capture the flag. I was privileged enough to have Matthieu show me a very dynamic desert level that he wasn't supposed too. It looked incredible, footprints left by vehicles and enemies, and real estate as far as the eye could see. The AI in the game is impressive to say the least, and is based upon the Unreal AI. The enhances Digital Extremes have incorporated into Pariah are fantastic; the AI enemies now cooperate and strategize with each other in order to kill you as a squad. It was eerie how fast Matthieu died once he took off the demonstrational GOD mode. Pariah is going to be a smash hit. Your computer may need to be a high end one to completely utilize the graphics, but this game has everything; an in-depth single player story line, massive multiplayer maps and scenarios, accompanied with incredibly realistic physics and weapons effects. I'll have this game the day it comes out. It's just gonna be that good.