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Game Over Online ~ Outcast

GameOver Game Reviews - Outcast (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Wolf

Game & Publisher Outcast (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32MB Ram, 320 MB HDD
Overall Rating 92%
Date Published Wednesday, July 7th, 1999 at 08:01 PM

Divider Left By: Wolf Divider Right

A while back, some previews were released of this upcoming title but the release date was pushed back due to the developers wanting to tweak the game some more. A few months later, the new Belgium development company Appeal was ready to unleash their first software package to gamers worldwide.

Outcast's story is original and very involving, as the lengthy FMV introduction will dictate. The tale begins with a scientific discovery leading to the ability to travel between parallel worlds. Disaster strikes quickly though when a probe sent to one of these parallel worlds is discovered by a sentient who unwittingly fires an intense amount of energy at it, setting of a nuclear chain reaction. This in turn destroys the laboratory on earth, creating a huge vortex which slowly begins to devour the earth while growing at an exponential rate. You, playing the part of Cutter Slade are ordered to escort three scientists into this world with repair cards to fix the broken probe. The mission seems easy enough ... but looks can, and usually tend to be deceiving.

The graphics in Outcast are a rather touchy subject. The game makes use of "voxels" which are completely different from polygons and cannot be accelerated by standard 3D accelerators. You may remember the old games like Commanche and Delta Force using these, and how the game would pixelate horribly when you came close to anything. Appeal really knows their stuff though, and have managed to utilise voxels to their fullest potential, creating beautiful outdoor environments and stunning water effects. As you move through the beautifully crafted world of Outcast, you will notice that objects far away can look rather pixely, upon moving close you will see it better it will look rather bland, when moving even closer, the detail will suddenly turn up again. Using your handy zooming binoculars illustrates this point better; the more you zoom in, the better the model looks. Some people say that voxels require a lot of CPU power to run properly, but for Outcast this is not the case. The game preformed well when set to medium detail on a P200 with 64Mb RAM, and of course on the 450Mhz with 96Mb RAM, putting all detail to full also ran perfectly smooth. You will have to get used to the feel of voxels because initially, you might be repelled by how it looks, but give it a chance to display them in their full glory and you should grow to love them. Polygons were never really meant to be used for outdoor environments, because the environments they creates are always so perfectly sharp and rigid. Using voxels means they can have very nicely done random elements (outcroppings, tree stumps, generally uneven terrain) which all look very smooth and rounded, creating a superior sense of realism.

The sounds in Outcast are magnificently composed. The well acted speech files used throughout the game dominate half of the game CD, since every single (important) character in the game has their full compliment of speech files, and soldiers and all make their respective grunts and hollers when they discover you or get killed. The whole second CD of Outcast is devoted to the audio tracks, all of which are gorgeously orchestrated and are vital to enhancing the game's atmosphere.

Outcast is the first successful mix of two genres: action and adventure. In the beginning of the game, you have to complete a few tests in the "Guardian" village to teach you the basics of the game. After that brief tutorial interlude, you jump right into the action element with soldiers patrolling the initial world you land in (Shamazaar). You can either focus on fighting or stealth during the game, both of which will achieve the tasks since you are never forced to kill all the bad guys you encounter. The only difference it will make when you kill them is that you will gain more items, usually consisting of ammo and health. Personally, I felt it necessary to kill every single bad guy I came across, but you can easily ignore the majority of them and just focus on the small groups which you are forced to kill to complete certain objectives. The combat system is the best I have ever seen in a game using a 3rd person perspective, and the whole movement system is beautiful in its simplicity and effectiveness. Your character is controlled using the keyboard and mouse; keyboard for movement and mouse for actions. An interesting feature is the laser sight (hold the right mouse button while armed with a weapon). It auto-aims vertically for you, but horizontally your all on your own. This eliminates that disastrous Tomb Raider combat mode where you end up just jumping madly and slamming the fire button, knowing that 90% of the bullets would hit their intended target (even though you might not have a clue what your target is).

After disposing of some soldiers (or avoiding them) you come across the natives. A lot of information about the current situation is gained as you wade through the lengthy selection of dialogue options. Heading into their village and speaking to more "Talons" (natives) will start giving you some choices of quests to complete. In the beginning you get overloaded with information and you might not know what to do with it, but your handy notepad keeps up and jots down anything important. Your small dictionary also puts in the meanings of different words as you learn them. The world of Outcast is divided into four different lands. You begin in the Guardian camp, which is in a snowy environment, but too small to call a land. The first real area you reach is "Shamazaar" which is where the talons produce 'riss' for the soldiers. This is a rather average looking world, but the water in it makes everything better. "Motazaar" is the lava world, where they produce "helidium" for the soldiers, from which they craft their weapons. This world is really the blandest of them all. "Talanzaar" is the desert world with a huge city in which there are literally hundreds of talons with whom you can interact. "Okanskaar" is the Swamp world, which I personally think looks the nicest of them all because the water looks so stunning, and the serpents and gorgor are beautifully animated. "Okaar" is the Forest world, housing the aggressive wood people and a stockpile of soldiers; this is the only world in which there is no village of any kind. There is no exact order you have to "complete" these worlds in. Even if you get the Mon from one of the worlds, you will still be going back there for requests from other talon in other worlds, and travelling in between all the worlds constantly is necessary. This can get rather annoying at times as you trundle across the land heading to the next portal, from which you have to travel to the next portal, to get to the place you want, and then you have to get back. But you are not forced to do this often, and objectives for quests are usually found relatively nearby. With so many added effect and other nice touches strewn about, it is apparent how long and hard the developers' have been working on this title to make it the best it could possibly be. The Artificial Intelligence in this game is one of the first ones I've seen that is even slightly intelligent. The normal soldiers are just a bit stupid, but the stronger, bigger guys act more intelligent and will pop out, lose some shots, and then run back behind their soldiers to avoid your return fire. The AI also shows adaptability as the small hyena type creatures which hunt in packs, will run at you but retreat as soon as they get shot to regroup and try to get you from behind. Another nice feature of Outcast is that it boasts a high replay value, as the game tells you the % of Quests and Bonus Quests you have completed. You can then replay the game, find those bonus quests, gain more items, and perhaps try the opposite tactic (stealth or aggressive).

Outcast is an excellent mix of action and adventure, boasting an excellent combat and movement system and great replay value. The game should keep you entertained for many hours straight until you have finally completed it, and the wonderful music plus speech immerses you into the world as you wonder what event your next action will trigger. The voxels are used to their full potential, displaying some beautiful (and some dull) outdoor environments, making the whole world look far more alive than polygons could ever be capable of doing. There are flaws, but I just cannot think of any right now. The only person to whom I would not recommend buying this are those who have a 'thing' against voxels, and those who despise action or adventure games.


  • Excellent Control and combat system
  • Perfect blend of action and adventure
  • Voxels create great outdoor environments
  • Excellent replay value


  • Sometimes may get annoying travelling between worlds.
  • You may feel the game is a bit short (if you’re a gaming Jedi)


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