OMIKRON

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It's got David Bowie! It's got Iman, Reincarnation, and French Developers. What's not to like?

Publisher Eidos
Developer Quantic Dream
Platform Win95
Expected Release Q3/4 1999
Genre Adventure
Accelerated YES


Ever feel like you've been staring at your computer for too long, as though your soul is literally being sucked out of you? Ever consider that it might not be so bad -- that your soul may be delivered to some futuristic world with hoverbikes and scantily clad European women? Get ready for Omikron, the only 3D-action-adventure game that promises to steal your soul and dump it into the body of a powersuit wearin', laser gun totin' policeman of the future.
We're not kidding, by the way. The game deposits the player in a brightly colored, technologically advanced city (think "Blade Runner meets Cirque du Soleil") with nothing but some vague memories, a set of body armor, and a stylish haircut. It's up to you to figure out who you are, where you are, and what you're supposed to be doing. Sound familiar? Omikron picks up on the time honored tradition of ancient Commodore games like Hacker, starting you in media res and letting you pick up the pieces.

As the story unfolds, the world takes on more depth, magical and mystical elements emerge, and you uncover an underground resistance movement trying to stop a demonic onslaught. While you're left to your own devices in the early stages of the game, able to pursue any of a number of different sub quests, all of them inevitably lead to the gigantic final confrontation.

Omikron might best be described as a Buddhist action-adventure, centering around exploration and, gasp, reincarnation. If your character dies, and your soul needs a new home, or if you've got enough magic power built up, you can switch into the body of another character, taking on his or her stats and inventory. Certain characters have specific abilities that you'll need to use to accomplish the tasks at hand, and many have fully-fleshed-out backstories of their own, including their own apartments, friends, and so forth. Part of the fun of the game is jumping from character to character, and seeing the game world through their eyes.

Quantric Dream, Omikron's developer, wants to create a game where the game world itself takes center stage as opposed to one main character; they're making excellent progress towards that goal. The world is lively, with street traffic, pedestrians and loads of different environments. This "living world" has its uses. The player learns new skills and techniques by finding new areas in the city. For example, the player will stumble upon a dojo and hone his or her fighting skills, or a shooting range and refine his or her aim.

When the player accomplishes a given task, or meets a key enemy, the game switches modes dramatically, either into a first person shooter mode, or hand-to-hand combat mode. These modes were still early when we saw the game, but expect simple mouse/keyboard based shooting in the FPS mode, and Tekken-style combos in the hand-to-hand mode.

Of course, we would be remiss to ignore David Bowie's involvement with the game. Mr. Stardust was originally approached for the license to some of his already produced songs. But he took a liking to the game's premise and ended up providing several original tracks for the game, one of which will be released as his next single. Bowie even appears as a game character - BOZ. As a player, you can even attend a BOZ concert or buy a BOZ album, which you can take back to your apartment and play. Bowie's wife, Iman, also was used as a basis for another of the game's characters. Will Mick Jagger make a cameo? Will BOZ, Mick, Iman and the player end up Dancing in the Streets? Not likely, but we can dream.

Omikron: The Nomad Soul should be available on PC late this year. A PlayStation version is also in the works.

Next Gen Preview Thursday, July 22, 1999
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