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Odyssey Prime
$30.00 $7.50
Publisher: Eden Studios
by Phillip M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2006 00:00:00

Firstly, let me say that I am a sucker for almost anything to do with parallel worlds, time travel, alternate history and the like ... so Odyssey Prime was an immediate attraction when it appeared and, of course, since you're reading this review, I bought it.

I really wanted to like the game a lot ... and, no, its not awful ... it's just, well, it doesn't do much for me.

Why? Well, firstly, its virually a pastiche of parts of Season 3 of "Sliders" and "Stargate" ... even the artwork shows it is entirely derivative with thinly disguised Stargate Rings (only with Runes instead of glyphs) and Stargate entry chambers. To be entirely fair, neither Sliders nor Stargate are original ... there is a long tradition of these sorts of stories (and many variations thereupon) in Science Fiction (and even in gaming) ... its just that OP struck me as entirely lacking in originality.

Even the way the stargate was discovered in OP is a straight takeoff of the way it was discovered in Stargate ... just transposed to the UK from Egypt.

Secondly, the new character classes ... these are fine, as far as I can tell (I loathe d20 modern, much prefer Spycraft), but the names just strike the wrong cord. They are ... forced ... for example, the Special Forces class is called "Operator" ... why not "Green Beret" or, simply, "Special Forces". The assassin class, instead of being called "Assassin" is "Wetwork", and the Wheelman is "Outrider." Yes, this is a minor niggle, but it is part of my overall disquiet with the product.

Thirdly, the "Outfitting a Team" chapter, as far as weapons is concerned, provides a few new items, but a lot of the weapons included are already included in existing material such as the d20 Modern "Weapons Locker" (WotC, 2004) ... the Glock 18 Machine Pistol, the Mk 23 SOCOM, the PSS SP4 and the Steyr TMP. That's 40% of the "new" Pistols that are, basically, a waste of space as they are not new at all.

The same padding occurs with "Long Arms" ... the Colt Commando, Colt M635 SMG, OICW, M4a1 Carbine, MAG7 Shotgun, Remington 870, Shrike LMG, Steyr IWS 2000, Steyr Tactical (Scout) Sniper Rifle, Striker Shotgun, and the VAL Silenced Assault Rifle are not new material ... 11 of the 15 items listed and detailed.

The rest of the chapter is much of the same ... a few skerricks of new material, but mostly stuff you probably already have (hey, I do, and I loathe d20 modern ... its still reference material for Spycraft!)

The background material in Chapter #5 is, as noted, largely derivative ... it just lacks a spark of originality. It is workmanlike and well enough written ... it just doesn't grab you as something new, original, and tempting. Its all very "ho hum".

The chapter on campaigns is full of sketchy ideas that anyone could have come up with ... of course, that doesn't mean everyone would have. But, again, it lacks the feel of originality.

The last quirk is the last chapter ... which provides data for OP for the Unisystem (Eden Games). Now, I like the Unisystem. I think Witchcraft and Armageddon are great backgrounds. In fact, if OP had been entirely a Unisystem game, it would have been better ... of course, realistically, d20 sells better, I guess. The problem is that a large chunk of the material here is a repeat of the material in the equipment chapter ... it may well be new material for the Unisystem, but I can't see it being useful for anyone who buys this, as the huge majority of purchasers will want OP for d20 (which is sad, as I said, Unisystem is far far better).

Then there's the typesetting. If you've read my other reviews you know I don't like bad typesetting ... and, well, OP isn't bad ... it's sloppy.

There are quite a number of scattered paragraphs in almost every chapter where the line spacing is incorrect, the lines are too close together compared to the other paragraphs. I know how this can happen ... you have a standard paragraph style set up for, say, 10 point type on 12 point spacing and call it "Body Text" ... but the DTP program insists on having a style called "Normal" which might be 10 point type on "one line" spacing (which is quite different from 10 point on 10 point, even). If you're not careful when doing editting and moving or adding paragraphs you will find that you have inserted "Normal" formatted paras where you should have "Body Text" ... its all too easy to do. But it should be easily picked up at the proofing stage. I mean, I picked it up in the first five minutes.

Which sorta sums up OP ... a great idea, pity about the absolutely average implementation.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The idea.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The implementation of the idea ... somewhere along the line the creative process seems to have been ... derailed. Either that or the light at the end of the tunnel was really an oncoming express train ;-)<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>

[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Odyssey Prime
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