Omikron is an Adventure game…no wait, it's a shooter…. or is it a fighter…oh %$^& I give up. Omikron is an adventure game with elements of a shooter (ala Doom style) and a fighter (ala Tekken) rolled into one. The basic premise of the game is that you, as the player, are sucked into (via your soul) the world into which Omikron takes place. It's from here that your story begins.
Omikron, as you might have noticed from the proceeding paragraph, tries to mesh many different gameplay styles into one game. Is it successful in blending all of these styles into a cohesive whole? I hope to impart the answer to that question in detail in this review. Please read on.
The gameplay in Omikron is, as mentioned before, of a schizophrenic nature. The game is best played with a gamepad in most of the sequences except for the doom style sequences, where a mouse and keyboard are recommended. While these controls can be reconfigured, the problem still lies in the fact that every different mode has a different control scheme. This means that what one button did in one mode now has a completely different function in the next mode. This leads to much frustration.
Control problems aside, the game takes place in a fully realized 3D city, in which you are merely one of its many citizens. This has some effect on the gameplay, as reincarnation with another person, once dead, is possible. In some cases, it's actually encouraged. This means that you probably won't be playing the game all the way through as one character.
The game also includes other traditional elements such as an inventory. This is accomplished through using a computer that's been grafted into your arm called a Sleak, or by using one of the many Multipan lockers around the game. The Sleak also has fucntions for calling a Slider (a futuristic taxi of sorts), recalling conversations from memory, and so on. The interface for the Sleak computer is a bit confusing, as it's not clear which keys are used to accomplish something.
The game is saved using a system of magic rings and save points. These rings are gathered all over the game, and are vitally important, as the game can't be saved just anywhere. I've never liked pre-determined save points, and while some will argue that it adds to the tension and excitement of a game, I'll argue that it only adds to the frustration. This is a game that, at some points, begs for a function to save it anywhere.
Overall, this game could have been great, but its schizophrenic gameplay and high frustration level really detract from what this game could have been. It's a shame, really, because it's a lovely world, and it deserves a game that can do its characters justice. In its current state, however, it just tries way too hard to appeal to multiple audiences, and in the end, it appeals to none.
One must admit that this is one of the prettiest adventure games around. The graphics are absolutely stunning. The city itself is a wonder to behold, and one is free to move around in it. The graphics for the city's citizens, including your own characters, are just as detailed, and while many people look alike (coming fashion sense?), they all exhibit a uniqueness that is usually not found in games of this type.
It would be easy to get lost in the scenery of the game, as it's highly realistic. There are vehicles with headlights, street signs, advertisements, shops, and all manner of other things to see. This is also shown in a very decent fame rate as well. The game's resolution can be adjusted, as can the hardware used and the detail options. Even on my paltry Pentium II 266, the game ran rather smoothly with all of the details one would hope for.
Overall, the graphics are a high point in the game. Even with the frustrating controls and schizophrenic gameplay, I still enjoyed walking around and seeing the sights. The developers did a great job in this area.
The music in this game deserves special note. It's written and performed by David Bowie and his Guitarist, Reeves Gabrels. These days, having a big name doing a gaming musical score isn't as big a deal as it might have been, but in the case of Omikron, the hype is well deserved. The game begins with a lovely opening tune performed by Bowie. The rest of the game features ambient music that is some of the best I've heard since Homeworld, and that says something. I was hoping to be able to find the music on the CD's separately from the game so that I could listen to them outside of the game itself, but to no avail. The interesting thing is that, as the game progresses, virtual CD's within the game may be acquired and listened to in your character's apartment. This was a neat touch, I felt.
The voice acting of the game is not bad at all. It's not overdone or underdone, and usually does convey the characters well. David Bowie himself make an appearance as a character in the game, and his voice and his lines a quite well done. It's a shame, however, that your own character's voices aren't included, and one wonders why this was omitted from the rest of the vocal cast, but that's just a quibble on my part.
Overall, the sounds are probably the highest point in the game. The music and vocals both do a splendid job of drawing the player into the game's world. I hope we can only have more soundtracks of this caliber in the future.
This game is strictly a single player game, as it should be. The game begins, as stated earlier, with your "soul" being transferred into the body of Kay'l, a low-level cop in this new world you've been transferred into. When you arrive in this new world, you really have no idea about who you are or why you've been brought here. It's from here that the mystery of your own past, as well as the current crisis, begins. I won't tell you the whole crisis for fear of spoiling the story, suffice it to say that it is different in its presentation and content.
This game, like many other adventures, includes puzzles to be solved and NPC's to talk to. Where Quantic Dream hoped to differentiate itself, it seems, is the inclusion of both shooting and fighting elements. I'll explain both in detail. The first contact you encounter with the shooting element is in a supermarket where hostages must be rescued and terrorists eliminated. The first time I tried this mode, I continued to use a gamepad as I had in the adventure game mode, which lead to a quick and bitter demise. Once I used the mouse and keyboard, it still took much effort and many attempts in order to pass this level. This was due to both the jerkiness and the overt sensitivity of the controls. I was frustrated by the inclusion of this mode, as I felt it actually detracted a certain level of fun from the rest of the game, and really wasn't necessary.
The fighting mode is similar to Tekken or Mortal Kombat. The first exposure to this is in the fighting simulator in your character's apartment. Here you can practice the different moves your character can use to beat the enemy into a pulp. Unfortunately, once you encounter your first live opponent, things seem quite different. This occurs right after the shooting sequence in the supermarket, and with no opportunity to save in between sequences, the fighting sequence (at least for me) ended in a quick and humiliating defeat. The controls in this mode were very choppy, and by the time you selected a defense for your character, the computer would hit him two or three times. This, I felt, also detracted from the core gameplay, and I again question its inclusion.
If this game had been a straight adventure game without the aforementioned elements, I feel it might have fared better than it has. Unfortunately, the game becomes too schizophrenic to enjoy fully, and again, takes away from the core gameplay. This is unfortunate, again, because the core gameplay has so much potential for greatness.
There is no multiplayer component to this game at all, and therefore this section can have no rating.
When the straight-up adventure portion is being played, this reviewer had a lot of fun. The game has a decent story, great visuals, and lots of nice little touches to draw you in. Unfortunately, when once encounters the other portions of the game, the fun can be severely diminished. I have to give the developers an A for effort in this regard for trying to blend so many elements into a cohesive whole, and if it indeed worked well, this game could have been a blast. Unfortunately, in light of the problems and frustrations listed above, this game can turn into an exercise in frustration rather quickly. It's a shame too, because as stated before, it could have been great.
Does it advance the genre?
Yes, hopefully developers might see what could have worked here and will improve upon it.
Does it offer anything new?
Yes, multiple game modes, though this isn't necessarily a good thing.
Does it offer a decent amount of gameplay? No, I found the game to be quite short.
Is the product relatively bug-free? Yes, not one crash or bug.
Does the documentation thoroughly explain the game?
Yes, the short manual explains all the basic information.
Does this game have any features to keep it from getting outdated? No
Is the game worth the retail price? Yes
Is the game FUN?
Yes at times, no at others. This is probably the hardest question to answer.
When engaging in dialogue, be careful what you say, because unlike other games, you'll only get one chance to say something before the next dialogue tree is opened.
Look around for any piece of information or any item that might give you clues into the game world. There are lots of little items strewn about, so don't miss anything.
Remember, each save uses up a magic ring, so be conservative in their use.
In the shooting section, never stop moving for a moment, because the enemy usually has the upper hand in knowing where you are.
In the fighting section, use a lot of strafing motions, as it makes you harder to hit. In combination with punches or kicks, strafing motions can be quite useful on the offensive as well.
Use whatever food or medikits you find to beef up your energy. This is probably the most important factor in the game, as your energy is used for both shooting and fighting, and must be kept as high as possible.
UP: Great graphics, fantastic music, interesting story, and unique angle to an adventure game.
DOWN: Schizophrenic gameplay, frustrating and choppy controls, interface quirks, and a general high frustration level.
This reviewer must give credit where credit is due. It's hard to talk badly about this game, because it's obvious the developers put a lot of care into its presentation and overall design. One just feels that more could have been done to enhance what was good about the game and get rid of the rest. I may sound like a broken record here, but I feel that if this game was a straight-up adventure, it would've been great. Alas, in its current state, with the multiple gameplay modes, I can only say that the game is merely a shadow of its potential.
Review By: Brian Rubin