by Monolith Productions Reviewed by: Alex Karls
Odium, n. definition: a hate coupled with disgust.
Hate. Disgust. Terror. Fear. All of these things came to the Polish town of Korov, early in February of 2009. People died, the city was in chaos, and there were reports of hideous monsters everywhere. NATO, fearing a crisis of global proportions, spread reports of a terrorist takeover to the major news syndicates, while they dispatched a recon team into the city to determine what was really happening. It has now been several hours since they last reported in and General Lamarre, the NATO Commander, has dispatched Recon Team Two to bring them back.
You command Team Two, an elite squad of soldiers, led by Lieutenant Cole Sullivan. Your mission is to find out what is happening inside that city and bring Team One back alive, if possible. Along the way you’ll face countless hybrid creatures that combine human, mechanical, and insect-like features. You’ll find survivors and casualties. You’ll wish you brought along another pair of shorts.
Welcome to Odium.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The game is broken up into two different modes: Adventure and Combat. In the Adventure mode, you control the characters as they travel through the city -- with some of the nicest looking pre-rendered graphics I’ve seen in any game. Adventure mode is just a point and click adventure, controlling the characters as they wander around the game picking up items and clues. The puzzles that occur during this part of the game are unbelievably easy and most of this part of the game serves only to push the plot forward.
When the game enters Combat it changes to a squad level turn-based combat system that is not without its highlights. It is a very easy system that runs very quickly once you learn to use it, but it can still be frustrating for a new user. The combat area is a predefined grid of squares that contains both your squad and the enemy. Each character has a ‘walk range’ in which they can move about and a variety of weapons they can use against the enemy. One of the most annoying features about this combat system is the limitations on the weapon ranges, as each one can only fire in a specific path and then only for a few grid squares at most.
On the positive side, the Adventure and Combat modes both share the same status bar and character control setup allowing you to easily control the items the characters use, as well as keeping you up to date on their health and status. The plotline occurs seamlessly within the game, as all of the plot cutscenes happen as part of the ingame scenes rather than as animations. As for negatives, the game is repetitive and unimaginative and is not much more than pretty graphics. Adventure mode deteriorates into walk-click-walk-watch cutscene and as soon as your characters gain tranquilizer weapons the combat turns into a simple hackfest.
The prerendered graphics that make up the backgrounds of the game are absolutely beautiful. Far and away, these are probably the nicest rendered backgrounds I’ve seen since the Fallout series of games and this is obviously the area that most of the developers' efforts went into. In combination with the 3D rendering engine, there is a zoom feature that brings the rendered background and the characters into sharp detail in which they lose no resolution.
For combat scenes, characters, and monsters, the creative minds at Metropolis Studios turned to a 3D rendering engine, putting out anywhere from 800 to 2000 polygons per character on the screen. This engine, while somewhat primitive in the design of some of the soldier skins, goes over the top at creating strange and unusual looking monsters.
All in all, the graphics are one of this game's highlights, portraying Odium in all of its horrific splendor. Trust me, the first time you see a Lucy monster, you’ll understand.
Although the background music sounds nice in a dark room and is sufficiently eerie for the setting, the audio in this game is nothing to get excited about. Most of the music is very repetitive and the sound effects are bland and copied many times over.
Another item of note is the atrocious voice acting on the part of the main characters. Obviously the voice actors are very good at performing accents, but the acting they’ve done is absolutely horrible and not the least bit enjoyable to listen to (similar to the absurd, yet highly entertaining, voice acting from Resident Evil). Not only could these characters not act their way out of a paper bag, in some cases the voices were completely mismatched to the character. For example, both of the female characters who appear in the game look like young, attractive women, yet in both cases each of their voices sound like an elderly, tired, Jewish woman from New York (this is by no means an attack on Jewish women from New York, merely an illustration on how they have cast 55+ year old voices in the role for a 20-30 year old voice).
Normally I wouldn’t mention anything about difficulty, but in this game the concept of a creature being difficult to kill is a joke. All of the time and effort that the developers put into the strategy of the game goes right out the window as soon as you get any kind of tranquilizer weaponry. The ability to put a creature to sleep in this game is useful, but very few of the monsters are immune to it, including most of the bosses. Since most of the bosses in the game don’t appear with any other monsters, all you need to do is pick up two battery powered (this means they recharge after a set number of turns instead of requiring ammo) tranquilizers. Once you’ve done that you’ve effectively beaten most of the bosses already.
P200, 32 MB RAM, approximately 150 MB of HD Space, DirectX 6.1 or Higher, Mouse and Keyboard, DirectX Compatible Sound Card.
Odium is a neat little game that reaches for the stars and trips over its own shoelaces. Nice graphics, combined with a linear, unimaginative plotline and combat loopholes that allow you to face down a boss monster without taking any damage to any of your characters, make it a relatively disappointing game.
Ultimately, it is a nice little game to play through once and it has an unusual plotline to entertain you, along with some very good looking rendered backgrounds. However, if you are looking for something more than fluff in a box, move on.
Review Posted On 29 December 1999.
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