Pariah is a First-Person Shooter developed by Digital Extremes, co-developers of the Unreal series. It was released by Groove Games on May 3, 2005 for PC and Xbox. A PlayStation 2 version was planned but never materialized. It used a modified version of the Unreal 2 Engine and the Havok physics engine.
It is the year 2520. Thirty years ago, the human Alliance fought a war against a sinister and mysterious foe, the Shroud. We won, though in the process, a large portion of the Earth's surface was turned into harsh wastelands: "The Zone." Most of humanity now lives in off-world colonies.
You play the role of Jack Mason, a medic in the Alliance military who's been demoted numerous times for insubordination and now gets stuck with all the crappy jobs. In this case, he's supposed to transport a woman named Karina off-world from a high-security prison called The Anvil. She's carrying a highly-classified transgenic virus that gives her bizarre and destructive powers.
Only on his way out, his ship gets shot down by The Scavengers, the inhabitants of the outlaw Zone. Karina is released from her stasis cell in the crash and runs off, leaving the player to go chase after her, which is where the game begins.
The game recieved mixed reviews and despite a small, dedicated fanbase pushing for the game to go pro, the Competitive Multiplayer never took off. A sequel was in development, though because Pariah was such a flop, the sequel became Warpath, an unrelated (story-wise) game that retained this iteration's few good elements: namely, the weapon upgrade system.
Pariah provides examples of:
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Rocket Launcher. Its ludicrous damage does not make up for the scarcity of its ammo, the lack of enemies that actually warrant its use, and the presence of equally good or better options when those enemies do appear.
- BFG: This being an Unreal engine game, all of them. First prize probably goes to the Shroud's "Titan's Fist" energy cannon, only usable by infected individuals.
- Boring, but Practical: The Bulldog PDW. It's the first real weapon you get, but you are likely to use it well into the later stages. When upgraded, it attains the fastest fire rate out of all your weapons, with some decent accuracy to back it up. Add to that its plentiful ammo supply and the fact that it deals good damage to virtually every enemy type, and you can see why it's Mason's weapon in cutscenes and promo materials.
- Climax Boss: You fight Stockton at the end of the game's last normal level in a fairly prolonged duel. The game's final level is essentially the Super Gravity Gun run from Half-Life 2, ending in a Stationary Boss Flunky Boss fight.
- Cool Bike: The Scavengers make use of a large, three-wheeled off-roader with gatling guns.
- Collection Sidequest: The Weapon Energy Cores. Completely optional, they have no relevance to the plot other than a throwaway line from Jack connecting them to the Shroud.
- Deflector Shields: One of the powers granted by The Virus is a personal energy barrier.
- Despair Event Horizon: Karina crosses it when she sees Mason shoot himself. She being what she is, that means everybody else dies too.
- Disaster Scavengers: The Scavengers.
- Earth That Was: A lot of it's still habitable, but the rest is outlaw wastes. It's not a total disaster area, but it's rough.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: Mason finally exhibits powers very late in the game.
- Enemy Mine: Karina and Mason are prisoner and captor, but are forced to work together to overcome the Scavengers.
- Evolving Weapon: One of the highlights of the game (maybe the only one) was the ability to upgrade your weapons using modular "Weapon Energy Cores". Each weapon could be upgrades a total of three times and gained new and impressively destructive abilities as you did so.
- Exploding Barrels
- Gas Mask Mooks
- Grenade Launcher
- Heal Thyself: You have a medical injector that restores one bar of health per use and has to be reloaded like a weapon.
- Human Aliens: Maybe. The Shroud are shown to be pale, hairless, corpse-like people vaguely resembling the Necris. What they actually are is never explained. Dialogue in the game referring to the war as "officially a domestic incident" and "bullshit politics" seems to equate them with terrorists more than anything else. Given the ties to Unreal, the most likely explanation would be they are analogous to the Necris; a human group that figured out a way to reanimate the dead, used it to become a separate species and recruit followers, and then made an unsuccessful power play.
- Infrared Xray Camera: Upgrading the Sniper Rifle gives its scope function the ability to work like this. While it does avert the tendency for this sort of camera to see through walls, it only seems to pick up heat produced by enemies, and not by the surroundings.
- Informed Ability: Mason doesn't do a lot of healing (besides himself) so much as shooting.
- Interface Spoiler: Mixed with All There in the Manual. The game's manual lists Alliance Soldiers in the enemies section, thereby spoiling the fact that the Alliance betrays you.
- Lost in Medias Res: That blurb up there? That's literally all the exposition there is. There's a plot, sure, Just look at all these spoilers. Its just that it exists in near-vacuum.
- Lost Technology: One of Jack's monologues states that the Weapon Energy Cores were once Shroud technology used during the war. May or may not also be Imported Alien Phlebotinum, given that it's not revealed what the Shroud are.
- Manipulative Bastard: Colonel Stockton, warden of The Anvil. Not only does he pay the Scavengers to shoot down Mason's ship in order to capture Karina, but he then captures her himself and doesn't pay them. Then he infects himself with The Virus and tries to kill you.
- Mêlée à Trois: Scavengers, Alliance Security, and escaped Anvil prisoners will all fight each other as well as the player during the Anvil levels. Oddly, the A.I. characters do 0 damage to each other, so all fights between them will just grind on until the player intervenes.
- Not Quite Dead: The Shroud. They're still around, they're pissed, and they'll likely make you reload your last save a few times.
- Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The game's assault rifle is a rectangular slab that has no business being as bulky as it is unless it also contains a grenade launcher, motion detector, and toothbrush. It doesn't.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Karina. She was created by the Shroud. Stockton briefly becomes one, though you clip his wings before he can realize his potential.
- PG Explosives: Despite being an M-rated game with "Blood and Gore" as one of its descriptors; there is no gore, gibs, or dismemberment whatsoever. Not even from explosives.
- Prison: The Anvil.
- Real Is Brown: Approximately four-fifths of the game uses this so heavily that the only textures you'll see much of are reddish-brown rocks, sand, concrete and rusty metal. The remaining fifth consist mainly of sterile-looking grey concrete or steel paired with Unnaturally Blue Lighting.
- Red Shirt: Stubbs, the pilot of the ship ferrying you and Karina, and the only other friendly face in the game arms you with the Bulldog and helps you fight off the Scavengers for a few minutes in the first chapter before he's unceremoniously killed off-screen.
- Regenerating Health: A variant. You have 4 (upgrade-able up to 6) health bars that drain out as you take damage, starting from the rightmost one. A bar not completely emptied will regenerate on its own, but one completely drained requires the use of your medical injector to be refilled. Emptying all those bars means death, of course.
- The Reveal: Several, but probably the biggest (and most unexpected) is that Mason was working for the Shroud all along. After killing Stockton he delivers Karina into their hands. Why? Because they can supposedly resurrect his dead daughter. When they refuse to do so, he has a Heroic BSoD, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to try and save Karina, and then shoots himself, prompting Karina to obliterate everything.
- Sequel Hook: Somewhat unusual in that it's not explicit, but it's definitely there. It's shown earlier in the game that Karina is capable of surviving the explosions she generates, which hints that she may have survived the massive explosion at the end of the game, even if no one else did.
- Shield-Bearing Mook: Some Alliance troops have beefier armor and carry metal ballistic shields. The shield is large and it's quite difficult to shoot around it, but you can stagger it with the plasma rifle or just blow them up with explosives.
- Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: The Scavengers, The Alliance troops, and finally The Shroud.
- Sphere of Destruction: The chief ability granted by The Virus. Kills Mooks dead.
- Spiritual Successor: Warpath (2006) was originally meant to be a sequel to Pariah, but was instead turned into a seperate stand-alone game after Pariah's negative reception. It nonetheless has extremely similar weapons, graphics, and gameplay, though it is a multiplayer-focused game similar to Quake III: Arena, with the singleplayer being simply a version of the multiplayer against bot-like opponents.
- Standard FPS Guns: Bulldog PDW, Grenade Launcher, Frag Rifle, Plasma Gun, Sniper Rifle, Rocket Launcher and Titan's Fist. It's just they're all huge and can be exponentially multiplied in power. Except for the last one.
- Stuff Blowing Up
- Unorthodox Reload: The Frag Rifle has a vertically-oriented internal magazine, cycling through the shells like a soda dispenser as it fires. Going with that metaphor, reloading it looks like stuffing a six-pack of shells into open port of the gun, before removing some sort of pin that held them all together.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment:
- You can't use the Scavenger's flamethrower, because their flamethrower users always blow up when killed.
- The energy weapons used by the Shroud also can't be used by you, because by the time you fight them you're only armed with your 11th-Hour Superpower.
- Vehicular Combat: The story mode has a few instances where you can man an armed vehicle, and such vehicles are also available in multiplayer maps. While decent and perfectly playable, these instances seem rather derivative of Halo.
- The Virus: A top-secret bio-weapon that grants incredible powers but often at the risk of suddenly exploding. Karina is it's vector, and Mason gets infected during the crash, giving him an excuse to chase after her when she escapes.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: All of Stockton's villainous actions are done in order to obtain a means to fight the Shroud, whom Stockton feel are still a threat, despite his superiors' belief that they no longer exist and research into finding means of fighting them is no longer a priority. And it turns out, Stockton is absolutely right.