This title has been developed by Metropolis. It is being published in the UK by Topware as Gorky 17. It is also being published in the US by Monolith, under the title Odium. To make a long story short, Odium and Gorky 17 are interchangeable names for this particular title, so don't be confused by that. On with the review!
The intro movie, which shows some Russian choppers flying about a city and a creature suffering from several sight impairing ailments, seems to have almost nothing to do with how you begin the game. Without any sort of briefing or actual introduction to your mission, you start at a little harbor somewhere. It's dark, gathering from the fact that the menu looked a bit ghoulish. Your team consists of NATO soldiers armed with big guns and that aforementioned creature of the intro. You would be of the opinion that your objective is to wander around and shoot lots of bad guys; You would then be proved immediately right as the game enters it's "combat mode". Combat mode is much like that of Final Fantasy, however unlike Final Fantasy you are given no introduction to any of the options available in combat, which is fine, because there aren't many. After this brief action scene, the game begins to unfold. The one thing you will notice immediately is the background scenes, since they are gorgeous. The best artwork I have ever seen is displayed in every section you come across in the game, and every combat scene. This must have taken them quite a while as the level of detail in these pictures is just mind-boggling. Sometimes you just feel guilty passing through a screen so quickly because you know how long it must have taken artists to create such picturesque landscapes. The models are also nicely done, and can utilize 3D hardware to display your well rendered NATO soldier's and the hordes of deformed hybrid nasties with big pointy teeth and guns.
The turn-based combat quickly starts to deplete your ammo supply as you realize that most of the game is going to be a hunt for scarcely available ammo for your small collection of different guns. Hand-to-hand weapons are nicely done though, with baseball bats, axes and crowbars all leaving their impressions on the craniums of varying evil things. A gripe here though would be that the guns are all rather simplified, as you have your rifle, pistol, shotgun, Uzi and a small collection of specialized weapon. Every weapon is actually useful in a different situation, so you can never really try and get an "upgraded" or simply "better" weapon, and the only way to increase your hybrid killing speed is to use your favorite weapon as often as possible to increase your skill level with it. Your characters gain experience through battle, and stat upgrades are available at level ups, but its disappointingly simplified again with only a few traits, of which even less are actually *useful* options for upgrading.
Wandering around the lusciously realistic maps is sometimes a bit difficult as you cannot always see what areas are accessible, and which ones are cut off. This actual "adventuring" part of the game is also quite well done, with items you have to gain, and quite a few secret areas you can access if you know what you are doing. These however are not widely advertised and can be rather hard to find so it's quite an achievement when you do get to it. Its also rather important to find these secrets, as some guns (like the Napalm Launcher, which is in the first area) if not uncovered, will never be seen again and the stacks of napalm ammunition you find near the end of the game are wasted. The main focus of the game though, is on the battles, and every few battles you will come up against a bigger bad guy, nicely introduced by a beautifully rendered cut-scene. Now of course the story must all be a bit bullocks with all these evil hybrid things to shoot. Later on however, the story actually starts to become pretty interesting, and is, dare I say, almost gripping near the end (Though some of the concepts involved are a bit silly).
Hey this all sounds pretty good so far, but of course it doesn't come without its gripes, however minor some of them may be. You sometimes get more characters to join your party, and after outfitting them nicely, they bugger off at some undetermined point along with all your stuff. Irritating. Another thing which could have easily been there is that it would have been really nice to go *back* a section perhaps to pick up something you just realized how to gain. Now, comes the biggest flaw of all, the one that makes it fall from the reaches of stardom with a thud back to its reality. It's short. Yes ladies and gentlemen, "Odium (Gorky 17)" suffers from a severe case of being rather short. Now of course as a reviewer I play through these things perhaps a bit quicker than your average gamer, but its still gonna be short. The whole thing, the beautifully constructed backgrounds and all these nice big bad guys, the introductory cut-scenes and all feel so incredibly tightly compacted together as if they were trying to reach a limit of game playing hours and just had to crunch it all up as much as possible. It is understandable in my opinion, as all the artwork that has gone into the game must have taken ages to make already, the one thing stopping it from being longer is the artwork. But the whole thing feels a bit short-lived, the rather limited variation of guns (just your extremities), the small amount of statistics to upgrade and your limited combat system all give you the feeling of a rather short lived experience.
If you're one of those people who read the game title, scroll down to the bottom for the game rating, and then perhaps skim over the last paragraph to check its summary, you can just go right back up there and begin reading from the start just like everybody else. It's a gorgeous looking game all the way through, not with all the 3D lighting effects and bells and whistles, but the illustrious 2D backgrounds and also very well done cut-scenes along with some nice character modeling make almost everything in Odium (Gorky 17) look good. Then comes the bad point of basically every aspect of the game being rather simplified, lending the whole experience as being a rather "quick to finish" title. If you're a fan of turn-based combat with NATO soldiers wandering around for some adventuring, this one's for you.
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