2, Issue 1
November 10, 1999
comes to mind when you think of the term Adventure Game?
For most of us, these words are immediately associated with various
Sierra and LucasArts games. These games, while having fun and
a good story line, can be reduced to location-based puzzles involving
various props strewn about a defined area. However, Outcast
re-defines the adventure part of that tried-and-true
phrase; and old adventure games really do seem less grand
after playing Appeal / Infogrames' offering.
story is cliché enough to bore most experienced gamers:
Scientists have been fiddling with the fabric of reality in an
attempt to reach an alternate universe. The experiment goes awry,
and triggers a black hole that is destroying the Earth. You take
the role of Cutter Slade, a troubled ex-Navy SEAL (whose career
was cut short by a mishap that you learn about both in the manual,
and during the game). Cutter is sent to the alternate universe
along with three scientists, to safeguard them while they try
to repair the damaged military probe that is the cause of the
res? You bet...but it sure is pretty (49k)
the clichés pretty much end there with the back-story;
which gets itself out of the way enough for the game to come through.
The game starts with you arriving in Adelpha (the alternate world)
barely conscious, and with a horrible headache. Whats worse,
you dont know where anyone is nor do you know where
the probe lies. This sets the stage for a breathtaking, exciting,
and sometimes hilarious romp around wilderness areas, across seas,
and through crowded city streets.
As I mentioned
before, this game really is different from your standard
adventure game. To put it as simply as possible, Outcast
is a huge game of fairly free-form exploration and interaction.
This may sound boring; but the immersion, story-line, dialogue,
and a million other details make this every bit as engrossing
as the best games I can think of.
bills itself as being open and non-linear, and they did a fabulous
job of this. Obstacles and quests can truly be solved in different
ways; and are often given an equal chance of succeeding. There
are other things, too like events happening without a particular
order that really lend an open and non-scripted
feel to the game. Even conversations with characters are malleable;
and while snippets of them are scripted, your options on what
to talk about and how they respond is all dynamic. And cut scenes,
dialogue, and special events are all handled directly in the game
engine (much better than with previous games that have tried to
do this). In the end, you feel much more immersed in the game
because you get to do what you want to do, at any
given moment. No one thing forces you to go in any particular
direction or do any one thing (though there are times when you
are given really strong reasons for a course of action). Care
to run off and hunt wild animals for a little while? Feel like
ignoring your larger tasks and helping out individual natives
needs? It's all possible, provided you havent been playing
so long that you pass out at the keyboard!