Initially turned off by its inventory 1990s motion sport protagonist and fuzzy voxels, I got here to understand Outcast reasonably late in life. On the time of its authentic launch I craved titles that may put my fancy new GeForce 256 to good use, for which I used to be spoilt for selection: a brand new Dungeon Keeper was atop the PC hit parade, which, along with Hidden & Harmful, System Shock 2 and Unreal Event, effortlessly outshined Outcast’s boring palette.
It wasn’t till a full 15 years later that I gave Outcast the eye it had lengthy deserved. This was on the time of the v1.1 launch, an understated – and nonetheless worthwhile – remaster that, in facilitating an outpouring of affectionate reader evaluations throughout GOG and Steam, stirred in me previous curiosities and a dormant sense of guilt at having dismissed the unique sport so simply.
And so, after years of wilful ignorance (and recent from having accomplished Far Cry Four), I pushed myself to fall for Outcast’s charms. It took a good whereas. For a lot of hours Cutter Slade remained each bit the second-rate Korben Dallas I might suspected that he was, however finally his out-dated wisecracks broke via and the pudgy faces of the indigenous Talan, in delivering their redundant vowels in Parisien kebab store accents, endlessly endeared me to their plight. Earlier than lengthy I used to be looking excessive and low for fabled Essence Stones and the lacking brothers of peasant farmers, plundering considerable sources for ammo and, slowly however absolutely, turning the culpable and sometimes cowardly directors of the cruel Adelphan regime into unwitting allies in my rebel efforts to save lots of two worlds.
And Second Contact, despite what little it presents by way of basic change, has had me fortunately doing it yet again.
For the good thing about those that weren’t doing an entire lot of interacting again within the autumn of 1999, or, like me, had satisfied themselves there have been higher video games with which to fill their time, I ought to in all probability clarify what the massive take care of Outcast was, other than an apparent aversion on the a part of it is improvement staff to totally embrace 3D acceleration.
Outcast was, briefly, an extremely bold and reasonably profitable third-person motion journey, one which supplied the liberty to discover an alien land from atop a twon-ha (area ostrich), whereas interacting with characters that appeared to go about their enterprise no matter whether or not you helped them or not. Regardless of style hybrids being a factor on the time, there wasn’t a lot else prefer it, definitely not in 3D Fuzz-O-Imaginative and prescient.
Mainly impressed by Stargate, seemingly guided by the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs and with prospers that invited fleeting comparisons with Ocarina of Time, Outcast additionally occurred to predate GTA3 by a few years, which has led some to champion the sport as establishing the rules of open world gaming. Personally I feel it sat extra comfortably alongside different prototypical efforts like Past Good & Evil, Captain Blood, Robinson’s Requiem and Little Large Journey – the place their builders had established distinct and compelling worlds lengthy earlier than layering them with no matter handed for interactivity on the time. That each one the above had been additionally a bit bizarre, delightfully meandering, and, ostensibly, French, has solely added to their cult allure.
And sure, earlier than you rush to the feedback, I do know Outcast was conceived in Belgium.
Regardless of the deceptive subtitle, Second Contact will not be Outcast’s aborted sequel. In equity, Enchantment aren’t asserting that it’s. What it’s claiming Second Contact to be is a “full remake”, which can be a bit of misleading. In fact what we have now is a renovation, with many of the work utilized to the sport’s graphical exterior. In lots of ways in which’s factor, as a result of whereas Outcast has mechanics which will to some newcomers really feel hopelessly outdated, it might have been an enormous loss had they been completely changed with one thing trendy and ubiquitous.
I am considering particularly of the fight system, which within the authentic sport was considerably kludgy and in no way like all form of shooter earlier than or since, which was effective as a result of Outcast was by no means a lot of a run-and-gun sport within the first place, despite the fact that many individuals (myself included) had preemptively lumped it in with the equally alien and attractive Giants: Citizen Kabuto.
You solely must sink a few hours into any model of the sport to grasp that Outcast’s fight has extra in frequent with a twin-stick arcade sport, a treacly third-person Robotron with enemies you possibly can simply kite and weapons fireplace you possibly can sidestep – fortunately with out the infinite and prompt enemy respawns. That won’t appear very impressed, however it’s truly fairly refreshing to have targets to guide, which along with the sport’s explosive devices and deployable teleport pads, make for encounters than really feel extra like puzzles than lifelike firefights. Motion is a bit of pacier in Second Contact and Cutter Slade’s previous ineffectual shimmies have been changed by trendy geese and rolls, however none of it takes something away from the spirit of Outcast’s endearingly lumpy battles.
Whereas little or no has modified within the guts of the sport, it is a very totally different image on the floor of Adelpha, the place we are able to reliably estimate the overwhelming majority of the developer’s renovation price range has been spent. Not a lot landscaping has been finished nevertheless, with cities, villages and all the varied lower throughs virtually similar, down to each winding walkway and character-snagging nook. For veterans the familiarity of every area is greater than welcome, virtually like revisiting a beloved teenage hang-out that has barely modified (no less than within the thoughts’s eye), however newcomers will certainly baulk on the generally pointless blocks positioned on the earth, such because the antiquated want to seek out some steps in an effort to exit water.
Maybe Adelpha is rather less otherworldly now that it is displayed in Unity-O-Imaginative and prescient, however that would simply be over familiarity getting the higher of me. In any case the brand new color palette is sort of hanging, with the simply the proper stage of distinction and vibrancy to nonetheless appear distinct whereas hopefully offsetting the engine’s ubiquity. The extra verdant areas of Adelpha are significantly extra thick with fauna than I recall, and whereas the world as an entire lacks the environmental detailing and dynamic results we anticipate of a brand new launch, the brand new vistas nonetheless handle to impress.
As for Adelpha’s inhabitants The Talan are significantly much less neanderthal than they initially had been, and whereas their repertoire of animations is proscribed, they continue to be as likeable a bunch of NPCs as you may discover exterior of Oddworld. And even if Cutter Slade has acquired a substantial overhaul by way of his vary of motion, I am glad to report that he is retained a bit of of his marionette gait, which is reasonably becoming as he now seems to be quite a bit like Thunderbird 1’s Scott Tracy after being assaulted with a pool cue. It isn’t a preferred opinion amongst returning followers, however I desire new-look Slade, who additionally occurs to swimsuit his previous voice reasonably nicely
Which neatly brings me to my essential situation with the sport, the voices. Not that they are unhealthy, for the reason that audio is instantly copied over from the unique sport. The issue is that legacy Outcast got here with loads of spoken phrase that needed to be squeezed with all the remainder of the code onto two CDs, and that, on the idea of what is right here, would appear to not exist in any uncompressed state wherever else. Sadly the voice monitor’s already low constancy is made noticeably worse by contrasting spectacularly with the newly minted HD visuals. To 21st Century ears it is prefer it was pulled off some previous Four-track tape that was rotting in a shed for 20 years. You quickly be taught to place up with it – there is not any selection however to – however some excessive vary environmental results would absolutely have helped masks the problems. In equity, the voice monitor was one thing the devs needed to re-record, not simply to enhance high quality, however to replace a few of the script’s reasonably dated cultural references. Had the unique Kickstarter bid crossed the road, issues might need been totally different.
There are different, lesser points, largely across the lack of graphical and management choices: There is not any method to mousewheel your method out of zoomed in cranium whenever you’re surrounded by surroundings, as an illustration, which reasonably irritatingly is often when underneath assault. Equally, given the huge quantity of gobbledygook within the sport, subtitling is an initially welcome possibility that reasonably goes overboard with its inline translations, a lot so that you will rapidly flip the characteristic off. Lastly the stock display is hopelessly primary, particularly with regard to quest and lore data. There would not must be extra of it, it simply must be higher introduced.
For essentially the most half Second Contact is an excellent remaster, important for followers and a worthy introduction for newcomers who wish to pattern an open-world journey that requires a little bit of thought and persistence. It is a notable effort for leaving a lot of the underlying sport and it is 90s soul intact, whereas switching out the unique graphics for visuals that, entire not bleeding edge, are a generational triple soar past even 2014’s overdue replace. One or two legacy options might have been dumped with out taking the sport too far out of its place in time, and a few significant supplementary content material would have been welcome, however it’s solely actually the untouched soundscape that stands out as a missed alternative to make Outcast really feel actually refreshed and related.
Y’know, I virtually want I might held on a number of extra years to play what’s now the definitive version of Outcast, however I realise now there’s solely so lengthy you possibly can maintain out and 15 years was in all probability lengthy sufficient. Which jogs my memory, I ought to in all probability get round to Ultimate Fantasy 7 one in every of as of late. I hear it is fairly good.
Play extra video games right here: Heads Games