Friday, February 3, 2012

Get Into: Outcast

Games like this are the reason for this blog's existence - it'd old, the graphics have aged terribly and nobody remembers it.. nor do they even know it exists. It's such a crime, because it's a fantastic game and I really, really think everyone should give it a shot!

It basically combines first person shooting with puzzle solving ala Tomb Raider... now, if that's set you off, I don't blame you... I don't particularly care for the Tomb Raider series myself. However, Outcast presents these puzzles in a way that makes even the most mundane escort puzzle feel exciting... or as exciting as it's going to get, but yeah, rather than dread every puzzle, you end up excited for the next puzzle, just to see where they go with it. As for the shooting, it's simple enough - just go ZAP on the enemies and they'll go down.

The thing is, their AI can give you some grief. Back when this game was made, it used some then-new, innovative technology to program the AI to be more sophisticated, and it works. Packs of enemies will either bum rush you or use tactics to pick you off, while individual enemies... are cowards, pretty much. Animals react in the way that you'd expect them to if you were to encounter them in real life, and... erm, just don't shoot civilians. Surprisingly, this is actually rather effective, because it really does feel like you're fighting enemies, not a bunch of headless chickens. The only games with superior AI are Half Life and Thief.

The story has a simple idea, but with the way that they go about it, it fucking works. You're a guy who has to escort three scientists to a parallel world to retrieve a probe. You get seperated and run into the natives... who claim that you're their messiah. Perhaps it's because your technology is more advanced than theirs, but you take note of their energy weapons and portals and think "who do I have to screw to get those!?". Anyway, what you have to do is collect sacred objects and stop the tyranny of the evil Fae Rahn. The thing is though, I don't want to spoil anything more - just know that it does get very, very interesting as you progress through the game.

I have to say though, the graphics have aged badly. It used a Voxel-based engine, which, and I quote, "is a volume element, representing a value on a regular grid in three dimensional space. This is analogous to a pixel, which represents 2D image data in a bitmap (which is sometimes referred to as a pixmap)". Sounds neat, right? Well, try playing it now, and try not to be too appalled by the graphics. They - well, the environments - almost look like an early Dreamcast game, and the character models aren't too far off from looking like they were in an early PS2 game.

It's a shame, because everything else is still very well done and has aged like fine, fine wine. Games like this remind me of why I stuck with gaming throughout the years - it's very entertaining and very enthralling. I'd almost call this a masterpiece, but if I did, it'd be low on the spectrum compared to the likes of Half Life 1 and 2, System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Thief 2 and Silent Hill 2... consider this a very good game. I recommend this game to anybody with a functioning PC.. so everybody, pretty much.

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