Review by dreammastah
"Looking to play an ambitious multi-genred game, but already beat Shenmue? Read on..."
We've all played racing, adventure, fighting and action games, right? But have you ever played a game that combines all of those genres and tries to package them into one, single enjoyable experience? Besides Shenmue, your answer would be, ''No, I can't say that I have.'' So, seeing as the genre of multi-genre games was lacking in variety, Quantic Dream steps in to fill the void. Here we have Omikron: The Nomad Soul.
You play.. well you play lots of different characters throughout your quest. When you first begin your adventure, you are confronted by a man named Kay'l. Kay'l explains to you that there is a parallel world that is in grave danger, and you are it's only hope for survival. Of course you accept, and then your soul is transferred to Kay'l, and you take over his body. Little to your knowledge, it was all a trap to get outsiders to come in to the world of Phaenon, which has been overrun with demons that walk among humans and steal their souls whenever they get a chance, sending them to eternal damnation to feed Astaroth, a demon bent on ruling the world. As the game goes on, there are many twists and turns to keep you on your toes.
When you first enter the world of Phaenon, you are attacked by a demon lying in wait for you. Soon after, an Omikron police robot lets you know you were attacked(big news to you, eh?) and tells you to go home and rest up. After you watch the opening cinema of the camera panning around the city of Omikron, you are allowed control over Kay'l. The textures that you see are all pretty well done, even a slight step above those of its PC counterpart. There are lots of locals wandering around, doing their own thing. The game is dark in this first city you come to, which sets the mood for the type of place Omikron is. Sometimes there is clipping when you get close to walls or other characters walking around, but the main thing to note is the loading! While walking around you will face random bits when new parts of the city are being loaded into the DC's memory, and as a consequence, the game stutters to a halt. Even after you have just exited out of your inventory screen, if you wish to go back in expect yet another 2 seconds of loading. It is very annoying at first, but later you come to accept it. The animation is nicely done, making you feel like people around you are actually there.
One great thing about Omikron to note is the soundtrack. The first time you encounter it is in the opening cinema, and it is accompanied by a great opening theme(Omikron - New Angels of Promise) done by David Bowie(who stars in the game) and long time associate Reeves Gabrels. They have done wonders with the musical score and it works out great. It can best be described as something out of a modern-day cyber punk flick. If more developers would take some time working on the soundtrack for their games and hiring professional artists to do so, maybe we wouldn't be running for the mute button so often. Besides the music, other sounds you hear aren't as great. One that bugs me is the noise you make when you land from a jump - sounds like you landed in a pile of mud or something similar. Not the kind of sound concrete makes when I jump on it.. The voice acting done in the game is very nice. Omikron is packed with it, so you'll be hearing plenty of speech.
Ahh, do I have to? Ooh, ok then, I'll do it for my fans out there. *blows kisses to the millions, and millions of dreammastah fans* When you play a game, do you like to be able to read the menus and many text documents you must read to delve deeper into the world of Omikron? I do too, but unfortunately, it's not that way in Omikron. You can only read English, you say? Too bad, Omikron doesn't do English. Instead, what you'll be getting is a healthy dose of other-worldly language, in a very small font, no doubt. Other than the Main Menu and the Pause Menu, you won't be doing much reading in Omikron, unless, that is, you have a microscope and an alien language decoder at the same time. Much of the text on police documents or papers you pick up is printed so small it is unreadable. It is hard to make out some things in the inventory screen also. It takes a while to get used to not being able to read much, and that takes some fun out of the game when you are forced to squint a lot. The inventory screen is fairly easy to use after a few times in and out of it.
We have arrived at the meatiest portion of Omikron. So, you ask, how does a game that attempts to combine almost every genre before it play? Not bad, not bad at all. You'll face puzzles that need to be solved, race sequences, switch to first person to cap some ass, fight baddies ala Tekken, and at the same time play a massive RPG. Each one of the genre's mixed into Omikron is done as good as it could be done for a game this ambitious. Nothing really stands out, but as a packaged deal, when all of the elements come together it is very nice, nice indeed.
In Omikron, you are given the freedom to do pretty much as you please. You're not in a rush, you can take your time and search around the city investigating or just talking to strangers. The only thing stopping you are the horrible times when door animations have to be loaded or when you access a new part of the relatively large city.
The controls are easy to get accustomed to, making Omikron a game anyone can begin playing. You run and navigate your way through menus with the d-pad, your action button is A, you can jump with B, and check your inventory with Y. When you go into first person mode, similar to that of Quake, but not as deep, the controls change completely. Strafing is now one of your many abilities. Each time you go into a different aspect of Omikron, you are given different things you can do and things to do them with. A neat gameplay aspect is the ability to exchange souls with other characters(30 in all) throughout the game. Sometimes a switch is vital to the plot, other times it is just so you can walk around in a new skin for a bit. After you ''soul swap'' you can go to their apartment and get in on their personal life. Cool with me.
Replay Value: 8/10
If not for the multiple endings and many different options you have to choose when talking to other characters, Omikron wouldn't be worth playing through again. Since there are so many different plot twists and ways to get the job done, it is fun and satisfying figuring out how to do things different each time. Over 100 hours of replay value here folks. You won't be done with Omikron anytime soon. This game is, in one word, HUGE. Plenty of reasons for you to jump into the world of Omikron for another go around.
If not for the glitches caused by bad loading times, and some graphical errors here and there, this score would've been a bit higher. The gripes I had with the, for the most part, unreadable text also detract from Omikron's overall score. Not a bad game at all, even with it's drawbacks it is worth experiencing at least once. Check it out for the great musical score and to see David Bowie in the game!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/02/01, Updated 11/20/02
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