Review by FRIEDSTRUCK
"There's Something In the Air..."
Omikron; the title alone can intrigue you, can draw you in. You then hear the comparisons to Shenmue; a wide vast world, lots to do, lots of people to interact with, etc. You then hear that it is made by Quantic Dream, same creators of the underrated Indigo Prophecy, and the awesome Heavy Rain. Finally, you take a look at the cover and you see David Bowie; how could one NOT give this game a go? When I finally purchased it last month, I was excited galore to pop it in my Dreamcast, and give it a shot. While the game is nothing short of awesome, it is worth noting that everything in this game can be upped by 2 points or so for the PC version, as it runs smoother, looks better etc., though this Dreamcast version is still brilliant. Game play will shed some more light.
Game play: 7/10
Do not get me wrong; this game plays great, and there are a ton of great nuances about it, however let us get the bad things out of the way; the game lags, that is to say, hiccups, when you enter and exit buildings. A Shenmue approach would have been more appropriate (loading when you enter/exit buildings), though the positive in this is that the game does not need to load when entering and exiting a building. The other bad-ish part of the game is the first-person shooting segment. Yes, Omikron SUCCESSFULLY blends three genres into one game; (in order of strength) third-person exploration (AA), fighting, and first-person shooting. Now, while the FPS segments are not weak, they are certainly not strong; they run like a poorer Duke Nukem 3D (though I must admit, they are a TON of fun). These two hindrances, added to the shoddy layouts of some of the locations in-game, bring the game play score down. Everything else in the game is absolutely awesome. The fighting is not Virtua Fighter, however its pretty good; strategy is a MUST, and you cannot button-mash your way to victory, which adds a bit of challenge. The third-person exploration is tons of fun, and, again, plays very similarly to Shenmue. There is a lot of ground to cover, a lot of NPCs to talk to, and a little thing called the Reincarnation Spell; basically, this is Omikron's ace in the hole. Yes, there is a lot to do, and that will occupy the majority of your time, however with the Reincarnation Spell, you can change bodies (called, "Soul Transfer)," with other characters, and take on their bodies for as long as you want/need. Most of these characters have their own apartments as well, and it can be a lot of fun raiding their living space for items! Game play is great, but a bit off the mark, how is the story?
Omikron is a city within a dome, that is protected from the (current) ice age. Within it, are four districts, governed by a central computer called IX. IX gives it orders to a governing body, and all is well (for the most part). Demons however, have been appearing, and stealing the souls of certain citizens, and policeman Kay'L 669, contacts you through a portal. He explains the situation, and that something needs to be done soon, otherwise mankind will cease to exist. You enter the portal, assume Kay'L's body, and start off on your quest, though little do you know that if you do not complete your quest, your soul will be trapped for all eternity. Scary is it not? I mean, you are not willingly giving away your soul, but if your soul truly is trapped in Omikron until you complete the game, what would happen to it if you did NOT complete the game? Graphics are up next.
Faces look a bit muddled, there is a lot of fog, and the Sliders do not shine like they do in the PC port of the game, but Omikron has some fairly pretty graphics. The first two districts look great, and dark (think Blade Runner), the third district is cramped, but also very pretty (think Assassin's Creed), and the final district looks phenomenal (think Venice). The other locations in the game look great, and the inside of buildings are also superb. The characters are all distinct (save for the stock NPCs), and they look from awesome, to mediocre; they really give you the impression of how Omikron really is. The graphics in the fighting portion of the game are pretty much identical to the third person portion's graphics, just from the side. Finally, one of the bright spots of the FPS portions of the game (the other bright spot will be talked about in the next section) are the graphics; everything moves at (what seems like) 60 FPS (that's frames per second!), with no slowdown, and it all looks great! Graphics are great, but the sounds are better!
DAVID BOWIE!!!!!!!! I do not love the guy as much as that exclamation seems to portray, however I have mad respect for him, and he is a supremely talented human being. Bowie (and his guitarist Reeves Gabriels) composed all of the vocal music in-game, and, to say the least, it is all absolutely superb. The majority of the music is taken from Bowie's "hours..." album, with certain tracks changed around to reflect Omikron. The rest of the music is composed by Xavier Despas, and it too, is just superb, especially the main menu track. Despas also recorded the ambient city sounds (do not know WHAT he did, but he is listed as having done the sounds...), and they sound exactly as a city would sound. What about the voice acting? Well, the voice acting in Omikron is also absolutely spectacular, which probably has something to do with the fantastic dialogue, written by head creator, David Cage. Bowie himself voices Boz (you will meet him in-game), and funnily enough, he's probably the best voice actor of the lot, though all are just great. Omikron might be one of the best games sounds-wise this side of RPGs, maybe ever. Can the game last?
Replay ability: 7/10
I believe it took me a good 22 hours or so to complete the game, however I have read that I took a bit longer than most. I did complete every side-quest, and spent A TON of time searching around the vast world, trying to find buildings and the like. There are eight side-quests in total (I am pretty sure...), and each will not run you up more than a couple dozen minutes or so. Traversing takes a while, and again, there is a ton to see and do, thus Omikron will keep you occupied, but RPG lengths it is not.
Buy or rent?
This is not a renting title, but go ahead and buy it, you will not be disappointed!
What an experience! Though the game play is far from perfect, and the graphics could better, every other area of Omikron makes the game an awesome game indeed. It is engrossing, it has a superb story, it has kick ass fighting, and somewhat enjoyable first-person shooting segments, brilliant third-person exploration, and David Bowie! To pass up on Omikron is to pass up on an 8/10 steak; yes the flavor may be lacking somewhat, but the tenderness, spices, and look of it more than make up for the lacking bits. Quantic Dream puts a ton of effort into their games (just play Heavy Rain), however they may have put the most effort, into Omikron. "I'll Survive!"
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/24/10
Game Release: Omikron: The Nomad Soul (US, 06/22/00)
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