Review by Ninjak
" ....wounded, but the (Nomad) Soul still burns!"
Nothing turns me away from buying a game than seeing the words 'Eidos' slapped somewhere on the game's cover. To me at least this company is infamous with having tons of games that sound great in previews and advertisements (don't they all?) but when you get a hold of the actual game it's plagued with a faulty camera, glitches, ugly graphics, or just plain poor gameplay. Some of their biggest offenders are, Urban Chaos, the latter Tomb Raider games, Fighting Force 2 (and 1 for that matter), Ninja, and the king daddy of them all---Strider Returns (they used to be known as US Gold after all) all potentially great games that just didn't come together as well as one would have hoped.
For this reason I was weary of Omikron when I first read up on it in various different previews but as turns out there really was not much need for concern as outside of a few rough spots, Omikron is actually quite good.
Your journey into the world of Omikron begins when Kay'l, a cop from the Omikron dimension, arrives at the start of the game and convinces you to transfer your soul into his body and return to his world. When you first enter this strange new world you are ambushed by a demon who easily overpowers you and is on it's way to eating your soul when a mecaguard appears and frightens it off. After that little diversion your free to leave the alley way you were in and welcome yourself to the futuristic world of Omikron.
What I liked about Omikron:
Omikron's ambition gets the best of it at times but it does a good job at what it's developers intended to do. You start the game off in the body of a cop (Kay'l) so that means you can do cop things like busting illegal activities on the black market, stopping a couple dozen of heavily armed men from robbing a supermarket (that must be one hell of a supermarket), and interrogating a suspect accused of treason against the ruling government.
The action scenes are handled either by one-on-one fighting(like Tekken) or first person shooting. They're not exactly what I call spectacular and they wouldn't be able to hold their own separately but they were fun to participate in. An attempt was made to add depth to the fighting by adding in stats which determine your character's power, speed, endurance as well as a few other attributes although all you really need to work on is endurance and power. You can build up stats by training with a hologram but with every body you switch into you lose your previous stats.
The storyline was done well enough to keep you interested as to what happens next without becoming overly convoluted and hard to follow. There is even a great deal of backstory present during the game. Scattered through out this adventure are several different newspaper, tapes, and books that give you more insight on the history and culture of this world. This was perhaps my favorite part of the game, going around and reading about this world's weird laws (Prostitution is ok as long as your not trying to reproduce. -_0) and it's history of the Cobalt Wars, which tells of mankind's war against the demons from the Last Circle.
You can even watch tv in Kay'l's apartment where it reveals some really crazy products such as an advertiser selling "..a biomechanical penis implant" and a news woman alerting the citizens of an expected storm being postponed from 1: 15 p.m. to 7:21 p.m..
What I didn't like
My first impression of this futuristic world was that of dread. Some part it's highly unimaginative and looks painfully generic. EVERY car in the game looks the same (even the one you ride in), most buildings are hard to tell apart, the same 2 or 3 people populate any given area, etc. I suppose it is asking too much for a small team like Quantic Dreams to match Sega's multi-million dollar Shenmue (which has a similar concept) in terms of graphics but a little variety never hurt anyone.
The first person shooting segments also could get annoying due to the difficult controls, you use the analog stick to aim and the digital pad to move. Now it's pretty obvious that those of us without 2 left hands are going to find it difficult to move and aim at the same time, there is an option to reconfigure the control but the analog stick must always be used to aim. It gets worse though, the cpu is utterly viscous in their attacks and can hit you several times in the back before you turn around but they can hit you from the far off distance (they don't even have to be visible on the screen) with pin point accuracy!
If that doesn't give you a headache then maybe some reading will. One of the things that I despised most about this game was the low font size that is sometimes displayed. The default size when talking with someone is ok, but when you try to look up info in your character's bio (and while reading certain books) the writing is too small and you can only guess what it says, this is really bad because it affects your ability to solve puzzles. There is one instance in the game where you have to decipher these numbers written in a forgotten language by looking in a book, doing some math, and then inputting these numbers onto a door. Some of those numbers look completely different in the book than on the door because of the small writing.
The other problem with the font is this psuedo-english you'll find written on signs around the world (and again in certain books). Imagine the word "Restaurant". Now imagine that word written in cursive with some letters partially erased, and other letters twisted to the side a little bit and you have a gist of what this writing looks like. Now try to imagine reading an entire paragraph with that font that contains the solution to a complicated puzzle and you'll soon realize how great it is to know about places like GameFAQs.
The cities you explore are huge but they generally just stick to one building template and color and you'll see the same 2-3 people roaming their streets. The characters you can posses and the ones important to the story are done much better however with some frightenly real facial expressions during conversations and designed decently. That's more than I can say for the demons who don't even look....demonic but rather silly. I don't know about anyone else but when I envision a demon I think of this...red thing with horns, evil grin, evil eyes, claws, etc. Something along those lines. Apparently Quantic Dreams think demons either look like Soul Calibur's Voldo or Tekken's Yoshimitsu (but with far, far, less detail) and since they made the game who am I to argue with them?
Bring your own music, the stuff this game has to offer isn't much. Most of the tunes I found to be annoying and far below the standard of something that should be on a Gd-rom (it sounds like cart music). There are several different music tapes that can be bought and played during the game as well as several secrets concerts (the band members are wanted) you can attend, these weren't bad I just....didn't dig them.
Fortunately the voice acting is surprising very good and most of the characters speak their lines well without sounding overly dramatic.You'll hear the occasional cheese line but for the most part you won't cringe or laugh out loud whenever you talk with a character.
Since your soul does not belong in this dimension you are immortal. If your host body dies your soul will transfer itself to the first poor sucker that touches your corpse. You can only die at key points during the game so if'n you want to commit suicide by jumping in front of traffic you can forget about it, your character will just get up (but still lose health). That dissapointment aside the only way to 'die' in the game is to either lose all your magic rings from continuing in the first person shooting parts or losing to a demon at the wrong time.
The Nomad Soul will eventually be forced to defend himself in combat through either one-on-one fighting or first person shooting. Both are fairly enjoyable but only because they're a part of a larger sum, as stand alone features they wouldn't be able to cut it.
The first time around the puzzles were ridiculously hard and it's clues were very easy to miss. For what it was worth I did try to look up solutions in a FAQ but they are pretty rare for this game and that IGN guide borderlined on worthless if you ask me.
Like most puzzles however the second time isn't as tough as the first and you'll easily remember the solutions to those brain teasers that stumped you for hours in a matter of minutes.
The first person shooting parts are more cheap than challenging however as you can be attack by someone who isn't even on the screen. Still if you take it slow and easy you shouldn't have too much trouble gunning down troops in this mode, you don't even need to buy any gun other than the mandatory Power Rod as the standard Waver gun works just fine.
Replay Value: 5
Definitely average here. The return trip through the game showed me just how linear the game actually was and how some of my choices had less impact on certain events than I believed otherwise. Without ruining anything I'll just say that it really doesn't matter which choice you select during conversations, the story will advance the same way, you'll get a different response but that's it.
There are side quests and secrets to be found but it shouldn't take you too long to finish up and get whatever you want.
Final Verdict: Un-averaged score of 7
Omikron has it's shortcomings and the 1-2 combo of the evil camera and chuggy frame rate are two of it's features many will find difficult to overcome but it's pretty cool once you get into it. It's yet another solid entry into the Dreamcast library but falls just short of being great.
Why the hell is a game filled with numerous sex shops, prostitutes, highly detailed strippers dancing on poles, and other gratitious acts of sex rated only 'T'?
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/09/01, Updated 10/09/01
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