Pariah hands-on

Another feature that Digital Extremes were eager to show off (and we were equally as eager to see) was the map editor and - thank the map maker - it seems fantastically simple to use, while still providing all the basic tools needed to create incredibly inventive and interesting battlegrounds for both on and offline play.

Initially, players will be able to choose from four territory settings, which they can then manipulate to their heart's content. Each territory comes with its own set of prefab objects and items including trees, wreckage, mines and, of course, any of the four vehicles available in the main story mode.

Digital Extremes were keen to point out that players would be able to expand upon the primary territory sets with additional downloadable content.

We expect that the map maker alone will be enough to draw the attention of Xbox gamers and, from what we've seen, aspiring cartographers will have no reason to be disappointed.

As we all know, however, fancy upgradeable doodahs, smarty-pants arming systems and la-de-da map makers will amount to a big pile of zip if the game itself is substandard.

Thankfully, although more extensive play would be required before we can categorically and unreservedly shower Pariah with praise, we can certainly give it an overwhelmingly enthusiastic thumbs-up for what we've witnessed so far.

It's quite apparent that Digital Extremes are diligent developers and that a great deal of work has gone into their latest offering, which is something that Braun is happy to confirm.

"We got towards the end of Pariah and, in October, just after the Dark Sector guys [Digital Extremes' next-gen title] had hit a milestone that we wanted them to hit, they all came to help us finish Pariah. So towards the end of Pariah, there have been about 55 people working on it."

And it certainly seems to have benefited from this all-hands-on-deck approach - every facet of the game appears not just complete but buffed with great attentiveness. If this reaches beyond the areas of the game we were privy to, gamers could be in for nothing less than the ultimate FPS package.

But what of the PS2 version? "Actually, it's not officially concept approved yet," Braun informs us. "So, even though it's running, we're not able to show it to anybody."

Good news indeed for Sony-only gamers, and even better is that Digital Extremes are hoping to include exactly the same features, although, we must admit, if Pseudo Interactive (who are handling the port) manage to cram lock, stock and barrel into the PS2 we'll be mightily impressed.

And after Pariah is done and dusted, what next for the Digital Extremes development teams?

"Once the work is finished, all those Dark Sector guys will go back to Dark Sector, and the Toronto guys [the studio responsible for Pariah] will start working on something new," Braun tells us before finally adding, "Depending on how well Pariah does, you can probably guess what we'll be working on..."

Yep, we think we probably can.

Pariah will be released in May for Xbox and PC. A PS2 release date has yet to be confirmed