I replayed the game and having the knowledge I do now, I took a deeper look into the story and how it seems to be misunderstood.
Initially I thought the story was just badly written but it is indeed hasty and difficult to follow, obviously also because of the cut content.
It strikes me that people at sites like tvtropes really misunderstand this story. First, I know from game previews that a prison called Eden was going to be involved and it seems it was the focus of the story in the original trailer too and the scavengers home location got delegated to a deathmatch only map instead with that scrapyard in desert. This is why they are underused. This is what the game really meant with earth being a wasteland, because those areas the nature didn't take back. But of course to many people on this planet they must see nature as a wasteland and inhabitable (for them)...so this all has kind of meta meaning.
In the end the story is way deeper than anyone thinks. But its also depressing. And its dystopian, to the max, where everyone betrays one another, just like happens in real life in times of crisis. I could elaborate further on this but this game accurately depicts common human behavior and unfortunately so. In the end the Shroud might not have done as much damage to the nature, but their threat results in how they abuse individuals and reform/brainwash them.
In the end everyone is a bad guy in the story in one way or the other. Everyone is setting each other to fail. This game is about fail. Pun not intended. It does stay true to its name with all its issues and everything too. This is actually what makes it strangely a unique game.
Jack wasn't with the shroud all the time, if you pay attention to the story you notice there are gaps between missions sometime. The deal only happens by then. Otherwise Jack wouldn't have spoken to himself about the shroud relic in the way he does in the second level. That is literally his thoughts and he clearly doesn't believe in their existence just yet.
This is another misunderstood point and I had the same reaction like many people when first playing it. In fact I permanently erased this game the first time around because I was so angry and fed up with it.
Trying to understand all the characters reasoning in this game is a day job or more and is about to give you a headache, so I am not going to go into details as my research did stop during the merc/stockton interactions and other stuff.
It is a very difficult story to follow and in fact one could say that the only good ending this game can be is if you die during stockton's fight and not reload. Because there's a chance Karina would have been spared at that point.
Still, some of the characters could have settled it out and united against the shroud but NAAAAH.
The Ohm in WarPath are continuation of the shroud but are like a neonazi group compared to nazi. They are not alike but they share the base ideology and technology.
Basically all of it comes down to is borg-like necris just like the Geist were in the abandoned Unreal Warfare story. The Shroud are also a bit underused and different weapons have different effects on them and the interesting keeper drones were also left out. Maybe so that someone wouldn't shout "Die fast or die slow, your choice DOC" at the drones...like happens in the anvil levels.
But yes I believe that Karina was not transported from Anvil as it is not THE PRISON, but instead from Eden.
Anvil is detention centre and research. It clearly says so at the building front.
The Ohm in WarPath are named Shroud internally and so are their skins and all too. It was a last minute change kind of. But when it comes to Pariah story, we never see the very original Shroud either, these obviously are cult-like remnants of them. And they like cloaks and sith-like stuff obviously. The Director has his model lacking in the game even though his textures are present. Similar situation happened with ut3 malcolm although his model was released via other means and appeared in the initial ut4 pre-alphas.
With the Pariah game the cutscene maps or models were never released unfortunately because even though they were recorded in the engine, they end up as videos in the released game due to performance and other reasons. Wish they wouldn't do that...because it hampers modding honestly.
Another plot point is that they use Jack's daughter and them promising to resurrect her from dead but its unclear if she is dead at that point or not, if she's been already resurrected, I think she actually is, just that the director is trying to use Jack further. Which is when he realizes that his daughter will not be his daughter anymore, that she'll be undead etc and realizes what he did to Karina.
I have to say this really. There was also obviously a character named Raphael that has the "Eden" prison clothes as well, unless Eden refers to the planet as alternate name of Earth but I don't think that was the riginal intention.
This character might have been the original intended player but for some reason, I guess not to be too similar to Unreal, they changed the story so that it's a medical military hired doctor.
Yes, try to wrap your head around all this. The start of the deal with the devil was when they release Jack from the cryosleep and is solidified only after Stockton's death because in the meantime due to no resistance that Stockton was embodiing, they could take over and get to Jack and offer him a deal he can't refuse. Then several hours later he meets with Karina and we all know what happens.
I suppose the main character can be even seen as "anti-villain" by some people not even anti-hero, while stockton might be more of an anti-hero himself.
Its obviously way more complex than can be seen under the surface especially because of bad execution of the story and details within the game...