Pariah is one of the most intriguing and thought provoking FPS titles to appear on the PC and Xbox this year. Eschewing formulaic uber-violence for a more cinematic, story-led approach, Pariah has already been billed as a potential contender for Half-Life 2's all- conquering crown.
It's not a comparison that seems to unduly worry Canadian outfit Digital Extremes, which numbers an impressive array of FPS veterans drawn from the Unreal Tournament days in its ranks. With an emphasis on substance and depth (okay well some killer FPS and vehicular combat too) Pariah certainly has the makings of another FPS classic and we recently sat down for a pow-wow with Digital Extremes' PR Manager Meredith Braun and Art Director Manny Llamas to get their take on the game that would be the FPS king.
The FPS genre on both Xbox and PC is an extremely crowded genre. What will Pariah bring that's new to the table?
Digital Extremes: Pariah is a full-package FPS. It's got an in-depth, storyline driven single player along with a huge multiplayer component that includes a MAP Editor that will bring tremendous longevity to the game. As for main features that differentiate Pariah from others, we are introducing an innovative new upgradeable weapon system and the easy to use MAP Editor. Along with this Digital Extremes has pushed the technology to the edge with its graphics, Pariah is a stunning game and none of that detail is lost in the multiplayer portion of the game which often plagues others.
Can you tell us a little more about Pariah's storyline?
Digital Extremes: It's the year 2520 and Earth has become a prison planet. You play Dr. Jack Mason, a down-on-his-luck military doctor who has been stuck with routine transport missions of sick prisoners back to headquarters. With this transport you have been told that your patient, Karina, has a virus. Things fall out of routine when your ship is shot down and you crash land along the outskirts of the prisons where many scavengers and escaped prisoner clans exist. You spend the rest of the game trying to find out the mystery of who Karina is, what the virus is and why your ship was shot down.
Ah, you play a doctor - does this have any influence on gameplay?
Digital Extremes: We based the game's health system around the character's doctoring abilities. You are supplied with a Healing Tool that you will use throughout the game to heal yourself. Mason also has a handy Bonesaw that you will use as a melee weapon.
Pariah uses an upgradeable weapon system. Can you tell us more about this and give us a couple of examples?
Digital Extremes: We're really excited about the upgradeable weapon system. There are seven weapons in the game that can be functionally upgraded three times throughout the single-player campaign using pick-ups called Weapon Energy Cores that are dispersed throughout the environments for you to find.
Once you have a WEC you can choose which weapon you want to upgrade. Some of the upgrades include going from a single rocket on the rocket launcher to a lock-on feature and then locking on up to four targets at a time or with the grenade launcher you ultimately get a mag grenade that attracts debris while it's flying through the air and explodes fragments everywhere upon detonation...quite powerful!
How do the upgradeable weapons affect how players approach the game?
Digital Extremes: Players will have to choose which weapon to upgrade when they pick up a WEC. This adds quite a bit of strategy on how you want to approach situations as well as replayability of the single player game. You may go back and play the game again choosing to upgrade different weapons than you had chosen the first time. It also brings a whole new level of strategy to the multi-player portion of the game.
Early on in the game we see your character become infected with the mystery virus. How will this affect the way the game plays and will it give you special abilities/powers, or heighten your weaknesses?
Digital Extremes: Hmmm...interesting ;)
We know there are a number of competing factions present in Pariah. How will you interact with these factions through the course of the game?
Digital Extremes: We spent a lot of time on the AI in the game and they all have a reason for existing within the storyline of the game. For instance, because the prisons on earth have become dilapidated over the years due to lack of funding, there have been a lot of prison breaks and therefore clans of ex-prisoners have formed throughout the wastelands around the prison.
These are the first enemies you encounter in the game. They are on their way to scavenge the wreckage of your ship when they saw it shot down. These initial enemies you encounter are fairly timid, they'll hide behind cover more quickly than other more aggressive enemies and tend not to work together with their teammates because they're only looking out for themselves. As you move through the game you will encounter different enemies that will also have unique abilities based on their purpose in the story.
Can you tell us more about the vehicles you can use in Pariah and how they affect the balance of the game?
Digital Extremes: There are four vehicles in the game ranging from a hover craft to a multi-person transport vehicle. There are several missions in the single player that require use of the vehicles and they come in handy in many other levels as much of the game is outdoors and in vast territory. The vehicles are also a lot of fun in multiplayer as well as the MAP Editor.
Will you be joined by allied NPCs throughout the game?
Digital Extremes: No