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Omikron: The Nomad Soul

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Quantic Dream
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Well, the company that is arguably the most renowned for its third person action games makes a brave departure and ventures out with a third person action game. Okay, maybe Omikron: The Nomad Soul is not radically different from the Tomb Raider series or Soul Reaver by anything you can really put your finger on, but Omikron really seems to provide a consistent environment in which to play the game. The graphics in Omikron are superb. You are free to roam about and explore a vast cityscape made up of several different 'areas,' through the course of the game. The city seems almost alive, with the bustle of the traffic on the streets and the city dwellers going about their everyday life. You can (occasionally) talk to people on the street, watch joggers doing their pre-jog stretches, watch lovers 'making out' against walls in the less well lit areas of the city... check out anything from a temple to a strip club, a restaurant to a sex shop. If you're lucky, you can catch a 'silicon' rendition of David Bowie performing in a club. And if you don't catch that, you can get several of his songs on 'Transcan Tapes' - a pyramid shaped recording media of the future. These can be played in your apartment, or in other peoples' apartments. Altogether the production quality of the graphics and sound is very high. These elements combine to provide a very believable context, allowing for suspension of disbelief.

One gripe I do have with this game is that some of the models should have had a higher polygon count. When a character has armor (or even just clothing), textures go a long way to make up for the 'squareness' of models. When you have characters dancing in a bikini and body paint, you expect to see some curves. These models should have appeared more rounded. (Then again, if they had, that probably would have been as far in the game as many guys would ever get, but they would have been okay with it...)


In Soul Reaver, Eidos brought us a game in which you could not die. With Omikron, they bring us a game in which you can not only die, but lose your soul... or so the storyline would have us believe. Playing the part of 'the Nomad Soul,' you 'occupy' different bodies throughout your quest, using each one's strength to your benefit. You're up against a diabolical demonic evil in a dark future science fiction world that feels oh so Blade Runner. You must pay close attention to notes and information you pick up along your quest, as they will help you determine where to venture next, and will give you clues as to how to solve puzzles. One annoying aspect of Omikron is the fact that events are often ruled by flags. Although investigating the morgue, for example, might seem like perfect sense to you without additional provocation, you'll have to receive specific information regarding a recent murder before the game lets you proceed. This is a common problem in adventure games, but it's annoying to have your character tell you, 'I have nothing to say to her,' when you try to interact with the clerk.

At any rate, if you want to play this game, clear your calendar. You're going to be sitting in front of your television for a while - but you'll enjoy it. Omikron delivers an in-depth story with plot twists and turns -- nice variety and an engaging storyline. Okay, the 'shooting' mode is a bit awkward and the 'fighting' mode is not very responsive. These are only used in a few sections of the game. The main 'adventuring' mode is easy to learn and provides for a great deal of third person adventuring in an expansive, interactive environment.


As I noted earlier, the 'shooting' and 'fighting' modes leave quite a bit to be desired. With (a lot of) practice, it's not all that bad, but it's an unnatural interface and the response in the 'fighting' mode is just plain slow. Once you get past these rarely used modes, the next most difficult aspect is merely trying to figure out what to do next. You're allowed to freely roam about the city, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can do things in any order you choose. You might find an apartment, for example, but you can't explore it until you have obtained the key to it. Luckily, once you find information concerning a location, that location appears on a list of places you can go to by (basically) calling a cab. You select the destination, the hovering car drives up, you run up to it and hit 'action' to get in, and it drives you up to your destination. Let's hear it for public transportation in the future! As far as managing to stay alive, if you die in a fairly public place, your soul can jump into the nearest person and you then control them. Be careful, however -- if there's no one close around, your soul goes straight to hell. (And, of COURSE the demons choose to attack you when there's no one else nearby!) This game is not for everyone, but if you're familiar with other third person adventure games (and/or you REALLY like David Bowie), then this game is definitely for you.

Game Mechanics:

Eidos has come pretty close to mastering the third person adventure genre. Omikron is, overall, a very high quality title, combining all of the elements of a great game: vast environs, in-depth detail, an engaging plot, the 'nomad soul' unique gameplay twist of jumping from one body to another, and the ever popular 'inclusion of a strip club' -- a requirement which seems to be growing in importance and popularity in video games. Where Omikron comes up woefully short is in the 'fighting' and 'shooting' modes. The 'fighting' mode seems to become more responsive as your character becomes a better fighter (train, train, and train some more), but even at it's best, the responsiveness falls far short of a decent fighting game. This wouldn't be so bad if your survival didn't depend upon your success at this mode at certain points. Other times, you'll be at the mercy of the 'shooting' mode. This mode doesn't have a problem with response. Instead, the control scheme is difficult to master, as all of the controls are used. The analog stick is used for aiming, the D-pad is used for moving around, the shoulder buttons are used for strafing, and the buttons are used for selecting weapons, firing and jumping. (This mode was obviously designed for people who own Nintendo 64 systems and have grown the required 'third hand' to facilitate playing games such as these.)

The last thing I have to mention belongs here in GAME MECHANICS, but should really be plastered across the top of the page. AS GREAT AS THIS GAME IS, THERE ARE SOME FAIRLY BLATANT COLLISION MISTAKES. What are 'collision mistakes?' In the real world, if you run straight into a wall, your body collides with the wall and you get knocked down. In a computer game, when your character collides with a wall, the position of your character goes to (or slightly beyond) the position of the wall, and the computer changes the location of your character to keep it from simply walking through walls. This process is called 'collision detection.' When done correctly, collision detection is unseen and automatic, maintained by the CPU in the background. When improperly done, there can be 'holes' through which a character can slip. This can be easily achieved, even accidentally, if the gap in the collision detection is large. In other cases, a small gap may be difficult to get into or may only be seen through or shot through. I encountered a couple of these types of problems in Omikron.

One extremely aggravating case was inside of the Security Headquarters. I was running around one of the floors, trying to find rooms that I could access when I slipped into the wall. After attempting to turn around and walk back out of the wall (without being able to see my character, mind you), the camera shifted a bit, indicating that I had slid off of some platform onto a lower level. At that point, I was unable to move, change the camera, or find any way to free myself. I had to load my saved game and re-do some of my progress.

Another part that bugged me a bit was when I met the first 'boss,' if you will... There's this huge demon in a lava pit who spits all sorts of hot flaming death at you. (He's actually not all that difficult to kill, if you realize that you have to hit him dead on in his head - a tiny thing in the center of a much larger part that LOOKS like it would be his head... evidently his torso, as Psibabe pointed out... but I digress...) Once your fight with this demon begins, you can actually backtrack a bit into a room that came right before the demon's chamber. In the center of this room, you are safe from the demon's onslaughts. However, if you venture off to the left side of the room (as you would be facing the demon) almost against the back wall that you originally entered through, there is a small sliver where the seams are imperfect. At a certain point, you can see through the wall. If you're skilled enough, you can shoot at the demon from inside this room. I didn't realize my exact target when I was attempting to hit him in this matter, but since he was able to hit me a few times (rarely) through this slit, I can only assume it would be possible to kill him from there. If you want to try it, it's in the room where you meet the old man who leaves you your first 'autosave' rings. The easiest way to find the hole's location is to look for it before you leave the room and enter the hall to the demon's chamber. If you search around the room while you're still in 'adventure' mode, you can actually step through the hole in the collision detection. You end up in a small reddish pocket. From there, you can see the demon's chamber in the distance, with the demon standing next to his gate. You cannot attack him until he has taken his demonic form, but this exercise will easily show you where the hole is located.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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