Omikron: The Nomad Soul Review
It's not often that an accomplished musician does the soundtrack for a video game, and never before has an international rock god like David Bowie done one, until now. Yes, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, developed by Quantic Dream, has eight (eight!!!) tracks from Mr. Stardust himself (along with Reeves Gabrels)! So we know Omikron has awesome music, but what the heck is it? Omikron is a mixture of adventure, first-person shooting and Tekken style third-person 3D fighting set in a sinister parallel universe. It's a game of mystery, puzzle-solving and hectic gunfights. And we'd better not forget the parts where you smash soul-sucking demon scum face down into the dirt. But does the rest of the game rise to the level of its soundtrack? Read on and find out....
The plot of Omikron is intricate and deep. Much of the joy of Omikron comes from uncovering what is actually going on. The basic premise is that your soul (yes you, the video gamer) has been transferred into the body of Kay'l, a police officer in a parallel universe. Your mission is to save the planet from a terrible demon threat. It's a decent plot, but frankly, it's cheesier than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (the cheesiest!). As plot points, which we won't reveal, get uncovered in the game, you have to fight to keep your suspension of disbelief. It just gets incredibly hokey. Omikron has an entertaining and deep plot but it gets really lame at points. But if you can struggle through the bad parts, it's all quite intriguing and rewarding. Omikron walks a fine line between disgusting you and enthralling you. If you can watch The Blair Witch Project without batting an eye, you can play Omikron just fine.
The game play aspect of Omikron is split into three main parts: adventure, first-person shooter, and 3D fighter. Most of Omikron is spent in adventure mode, which is where you find clues, talk to people, and uncover the plot. The controls and play of adventure mode are fine and get the job done. But Quantic Dream wasn't happy there, they decided to do more. Big mistake. They added a kludgy terrible first-person shooter mode to the game that, in addition to being poorly implemented and difficult to control, is just plain boring. They also added a basic Tekken-like fighting mode, which isn't as bad as the FPS mode but still should have been left out entirely. The game play of Omikron consists of good fun adventuring mixed with poor FPS and fighting scenes.
The graphics of Omikron are beautiful in a dark nasty sort of way. The world is vast and detailed, with complex models for people and buildings. The texture artists deserve a round of applause for such gritty and enthralling work. Things are far from perfect though. Either through motion-capture or animation, the body language of the people you meet is just terrible; they look like drunken marionettes. Also, being a mostly third-person game, you have to deal with some pretty mediocre camera-angle AI. It attempts to give a cinematic feel to the game and succeeds, but it also makes playing difficult.
Unfortunately, all the pretty textures and complex models force you to pay through the nose in performance. On a Celeron 450 with 64MB of RAM and a Voodoo3 2000, we had to turn most of the quality settings to medium or low, have a very near clipping distance and run at the lowest resolution available, 640x480. This means that, while what we saw still looked pretty good, it always looked like there was a thick fog rolling in fifty feet ahead. Omikron's graphics are great, but unless you have a very high end system, you won't be seeing them in their full glory.
The sound of Omikron...oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! It does not get any better than this. As you already know, David Bowie did most of the music for the game. The songs are good solid examples of Bowie's work. They're beautiful and a credit to his creativity and skill. The sound effects throughout the game are also darn good, among the best we've heard. The voice acting, including some by Bowie, is excellent as well. If it weren't for the fantastic music and sound of Omikron, the game would lose a tremendous amount of appeal.
Omikron has no multi-player aspect.
(want more shots? click here for an extra 29..)
In the end, Omikron is a fun and cinematic adventure game with beautiful graphics and perfect music. It is marred by a hokey plot, high system needs, and poorly implemented and unnecessary FPS and fighting modes. If you're looking for adventure games, play Outcast first then play Omikron.
Bowie! Bowie! Bowie!
The plot can get very hokey at points.
To get the best graphics, you need extremely fast hardware.