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Omikron: The Nomad Soul (Just The Nomad Soul in the UK) has only recently caught the eye of most gamers and game sites, I for one have been following the games progress for some time after the announcement that David Bowie would be playing one of the characters in the game and doing the games music. The closest game that I can mention that comes close to the type of gameplay that The Nomad Soul produces is Outcast, but this time The Nomad Soul has a number of shooting and combat sections which you will be involved in.
Here are some of the features:
Installation, Settings and Intro
The Nomad Soul comes on 3 CD-ROM's, installation takes quite a while as the game can go and take upwards of 1GB's of space on your Hard-Drive if you wanted it to. I went for the typical install, which takes up 500MB's of drive space. Once the install has completed it is time to start up the game, the game begins with a short introduction Full Motion Video scene, nicely done, once you get to the first screen you are greeted with the following options:
As usual I went for the options area first to set up my graphics card with the game, I decided to go for everything at full and played the game in 1024x768. Sound settings and everything else were already perfectly setup and I didn't need to change anything there.
There are a number of different gameplay elements in The Nomad Soul, ranging from a 3D adventure title to a full 3D shooter and beat-em-up. About 80% of the game is adventure related, and it works very well. The game begins with you taking over the body of a policeman who has just died, he asks for your help and your first task is to find out how he (or you) and his partner Den died. The adventure part of the game consists of talking to characters, choosing what reply you want to give and picking up and uses objects in the right places.
The Nomad Soul draws you in right from the beginning with its wonderful atmosphere, it feels like you are actually taking part in an interactive movie (No not the crappy Ripper or Wing Commander types, really interactive) and has a similar look to the Blade Runner movie in terms of characters and setting. The game setting also changes from night to day and vice versa. The Nomad Soul is also quite adult orientated which is a plus in my view, and I mean adult in terms of strip bars, morgues, examining bodies not swearing etc.
The interface you use is very easy to get to grips with, you can hold a limited number of objects in your inventory (Called the Sneak, a device that is attached to your arm) but instead of having to go back and pick objects up later in the game because you don't have space, you can transfer objects from your inventory into a system called The Multiplan Virtual Locker. Once the objects are inside this virtual locker (Which is available all over the place) you just have to walk up to one, use it and transfer objects between your inventory and the multiplan. From the Sneak pad on your arm you can also call your main transport in the game called The Slider (Shown below). From the Sneak pad you can choose your next destination and the Slider will drive you there instead of having to walk all around Omikron. The Sneak pad also keeps items of interest in its memory device, such as specific conversations, characters you need to speak to etc, making it easy to know the next place you should be checking out.
During the game you get to jump into the bodies of various characters and the story continues on. Later in the game you also have to swim, jump and run to new destinations. The only problem I have with the gameplay is that it can sometimes feel a little linear due to the main story line.
Graphics, Sound & Music
Graphically The Nomad Soul is superb throughout the whole game. The cities, backgrounds and characters are full of detail and the design of the futuristic cities is great. Animation on all of the characters is also excellent, especially when you are close up and in conversation with them, their actual facial expressions do show off how the character is feeling such as happy or sad. I have mentioned Outcast in this review quite a bit, while Outcast was using Voxel technology (Which didn't work properly for a lot of people and was arse achingly slow sometimes) The Nomad Soul uses Direct3D to great effect with the ability to use high resolutions. The only thing missing was 32-bit color, which I felt would enhance the environment even more.
Both music and sound are used to great effect during the game, the music more so. The David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels soundtrack and ambiance music is very well suited to the game. Most of the David Bowie tracks are only played when you visit one of the bars his band is playing in (You pick up flyers that tell you where the next gig is). Unfortunately though you can't actually skip any of these virtual concerts.
This could well turn out to be one of the best adventure games this year, it has a strong plot, lots of puzzles and variety. It is also a very large game so you won't be completing it in a hurry. Graphically the game can't do much wrong and the same goes for the sound and music (Obviously it helps if you are a fan of David Bowie). I don't think it is quite as non-linear as Outcast, in terms of sub-missions etc but it certainly has a heck of a lot going for it. An excellent adventure title, one of the best this year.
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