*WARNING* This wu contains a few spoilers (about X-COM, not Odium) which have been deemed unhealthy by the Ministry of Delightful Surprise. Read at own risk.


A computer game released in 1999, produced by Monolith and distributed by Interplay.

While perusing the clearance titles the other day at Software Etc. I noticed Odium. The game had caught my eye when it first came out, but I usually like to wait until they mark games down these days before I buy them, since they're usually not worth fifty bucks anymore.

I didn't expect anything special, but hey, it was five dollars!

When I installed the game and loaded it up, I had a wonderful surpise. Odium is fantastic.

Back in the day, I was a big fan of X-COM: UFO Hunter, an essential for anyone who likes strategy/simulation games. Ever since I finished it, pulping the alien queen thing with those nifty guided missiles that look like footballs, I've been yearning for a turn-based combat game that could measure up. Alas. The X-COM sequals didn't rise to the occasion and I was left with a woody for a game that didn't exist.

Odium gave me that feeling all over again. Any veteran of UFO Hunter should be right at home with the very similar combat interface. The playing areas are laid out in squares and, since the characters are rendered in 3D you get different, cinematic camera angles, which adds to the already palpable creepy feel of the game.

You won't get the resource management and base-building experience of X-COM, however. Odium is intentionally written more like a cheesy B Movie with all the events in the game rolling out in a single night. When you're not in a combat scene, you're in an adventure mode much like that of the later Final Fantasy games. But don't worry about having to kill the same, randomly appearing monsters over and over again, because every encounter is a part of the storyline, and only happens once.

The story line is fairly simple. Some experiments at an old Soviet lab have gone horribly wrong. You are part of a three man special forces team sent in to investigate the disappearance of some of NATO's top scientists. While the dialogue is pointedly corny (and funny) there is some interesting character interaction throughout the course of the game. And don't worry about getting lonely, you'll have other members join your party and leave it as you make your way through the creepy ghost town above the lab.

In addition, the game has an XP system and you can choose which characteristics to raise each time one of your people levels.

There are plenty of different enemies to splatter. The designers got extremely creative with it, and the art is gorgeous, especially if you're into mutated, twisted, creature things wot come in the night and nibble on your toenails. The animation is fluid, realistic, and incredibly detailed, as well.

If you're going to be bashing some skulls, you need weapons, of course. Although you can use your fists, you get a lot more to choose from, including a nice selection of melee weapons, such as a baseball bat, a rusty axe and a crowbar. (At times, to save precious ammo I would surround a creature with my party and have them hack at it with different melee weapons. It resembled a crazy lynch mob.) You also get a few special weapons throughout the game that you can call down anywhere, like satellite missile attacks and lightning. Like grenades? In addition to your garden variety ones, you also get gas grenades, stun grenades. Pyromania? Use the flamethrower or simply toss a molotov cocktail. You can even lob a bottle of vodka at an enemy and light them on fire with matches, provided gratis in your inventory at the beginning of the game.

The sound is very nice, complete with a spooky, ambient score. The creatures make a variety of noises from squishes to roars, and the gun effects are crisp and neat.

The only thing that really disappointed me about Odium was that it took me about as much real time, one night, as there was game time. It left me thirsting for more mutated blood. I understand that they probably had to make the thing short simply because they poured so much effort into the atmosphere, realism, and freshness of each encounter, which is quite admirable, in my opinion, since many games will leave you killing the same 6, 7, or 8 types of enemies over and over again right up to the end, and it's oh so much filler.

So Odium is a filet mignon, small but exceedingly good, quality over quantity, against which many games are hamburger. The visceral, no negotiation feel of this game makes meat metaphors quite apt. Hey, five bucks isn't bad for filet mignon, take it from a guy who waits tables in a steakhouse.

O"di*um (?), n. [L., fr. odi I hate. Gr. Annoy, Noisome.]

1.

Hatred; dislike; as, his conduct brought him into odium, or, brought odium upon him.

2.

The quality that provokes hatred; offensiveness.

She threw the odium of the fact on me. Dryden.

Odium theologicum () [L.], the enmity peculiar to contending theologians.

Syn. -- Hatred; abhorrence; detestation; antipathy. -- Odium, Hatred. We exercise hatred; we endure odium. The former has an active sense, the latter a passive one. We speak of having a hatred for a man, but not of having an odium toward him. A tyrant incurs odium. The odium of an offense may sometimes fall unjustly upon one who is innocent.

I wish I had a cause to seek him there, To oppose his hatred fully. Shak.

You have...dexterously thrown some of the odium of your polity upon that middle class which you despise. Beaconsfield.

 

© Webster 1913.

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