I don't usually play action/adventures. But after reading so many good
things about Outcast, and how it was more adventure/action than
action/adventure, I decided to give it a try. Besides, it had a god mode -
a nice durable one that doesn't have to be reentered at the beginning of
every level. I've been told that you don't need god mode for this game -
that you can just run away from enemies most of the time. But I didn't
find this to be true. Besides, I'm such a bad shot with a weapon that it
is quicker and easier to use god mode and pummel my enemies to death with
my fists than spend a lot of time wasting ammo. I know this isn't the
correct way to play the game, but I enjoyed it.
Outcast's gameworld is vast. Although it is 3D, the game engine uses
voxels and does not require a 3D graphics card. The minimum requirements
are for 200 MHz with recommended specs of 300 MHz. Since I played on a
computer with 400 MHz, I don't know how well it plays on a 200 MHz
Outcast comes with 2 CD's. You install from the first one and play off the
second one. No CD swapping.
Outcast, like most action/adventures, is keyboard controlled. It is also
mouse controlled. You can change the way your character, Cutter Slade, is
facing with the mouse. The arrow keys control movement and the direction
he's facing, though in a different way than the mouse. The back arrow will
turn Cutter so he is facing you without moving the background image. The
mouse will turn Cutter around, but you'll stay behind him so the entire
screen image will turn with him. If this sounds confusing, it isn't
There are a lot of other keyboard controls. You can make Cutter jump or
run or crawl along the ground or dive into water. You can make him draw a
weapon and fire. There are a lot of keyboard controls to learn and at
first it may seem overwhelming. I tried out all the controls early in the
game to try to learn them, but I always had the manual ready in case I
forgot. Most of the time I had no trouble. But every once in a while I'd
have to refresh my memory about some little-used control option.
It is possible to play Outcast from either 1st or 3rd person perspective.
Since I get motion sickness in 1st person 3D games, I used 3rd person most
of the time, switching to 1st person only when I had to shoot spiders to
collect their salivary glands or something. By the way, spider salivary
glands are useful. You use them to make ammo. And it's fun to watch the
nasty spitting things flip over and go belly up.
Outcast has a very complex story. Cutter has been sent to a parallel
universe to correct some sort of anomaly that threatens to destroy his
world. A scientific probe sent to prove the existence of a parallel world
has ceased communications and somehow triggered some manner of chain
reaction that has resulted in a black hole which threatens to engulf
Cutter's world. I can't say I fully understand how a little probe could
cause so much damage. Chaos theory I suppose. Anyway, Cutter and 3
teammates are sent to the parallel world, Adelpha, to find the probe and
correct the anomaly. Only something goes wrong along the way and Cutter is
separated from his teammates. Back stories on the different team members
are provided in the game manual.
As the game opens, Cutter awakens and meets the inhabitants of the planet,
called Talans. These particular Talans have rescued him from the clutches
of the evil Fae Rhan because they believe he is their saviour, the Ulukai.
Apparently they believe this because of the symbol on his shirt. Cutter
expresses his incredulity in something less than polite terms.
Nevertheless, he and the Talan who is the rebel leader come to an
agreement. Cutter will help the Talans with Fae Rhan and the Talans will
help Cutter locate his teammates and the probe. After being supplied with
his backpack, Cutter is given a "Gaamsaav" (which allows you to save your
game) and sent out to explore this first world, Ranzaar, to gather
information about the 6 worlds on the planet of Adelpha by talking to
Ranzaar's inhabitants, and to pass a few tests to prove he is worthy. The
tests are fairly easy, with the exception of the sneak test. But if you
fail after 3 tries of the sneak test, the Talan who is testing you says
never mind, I won't tell, it will just be our little secret that you
failed. And after you pass the 4 tests, it's on to Shamazaar, the world of
temples, to do good deeds, impress the inhabitants, kill soldiers, and try
to figure out what's going on.
The 6 worlds of Adelpha are
Ranzaar, the world of snow (where you start out)
Shamazaar, the world of temples
Okasankaar, the world of marshes
Talanzaar, the world of the city and hub of Adelpha
Okaar, the forest world
Motazaar, the mountain world
Shamazaar is the largest world and I often got lost before I got the hang
of using the map. The HUD (heads up display) is visible at all times to
tell you which direction you are facing (north, south, east, or west) and
you can call up the map in the lower right corner. Unfortunately the map
is not labeled, but it does show your location with respect to enemies,
friendly Talans, and animals. Most of the animals are friendly Twon-ha,
but there are also nasty cheetah-like things that you have to go shoot to
complete one of the side quests.
Twon-ha are fun. After running around the immense world of Shamazaar on
two piddly little legs looking for things, it was great fun to finally
acquire a long-legged Twon-ha and go bounding over the riis fields and
leap up small cliffs at 3 or 4 times my former speed.
Each of the 6 worlds is distinctive. You move between them via glowing
aqua-blue portals that you must locate.
Shamazaar was mostly green fields, with occasional temples or pools of
water. At the center of Shamazaar, Fae Rhan has a temple of his own, full
Talanzaar is essentially the city of Okriana, which is surrounded by a
deadly desert. If you step too far out in the desert, it gobbles you up.
End of game, god mode or not.
Okasankaar, the marsh world, has vicious man-eating plants and a
dinosaur-like monster that you must battle at some point in the game. It
isn't really that hard. I got him on the second try. But if you get eaten
while in god mode you get an added bonus - your movement keys now control
the dinosaur, at least for a little while. There is a sort of logic in
Talanzaar was the world I liked the least. It was a mining world and
though you hear that in the past it was a green and beautiful world, now
it is all barren orangy red rocks.
Okaar was the forest world. Besides trees, it had statues, shrines, and a
large river with many interesting things on the bottom. There is also a
walled-up area with a really bad-tempered dragon creature in it. You
fulfill one of the side quests if you are able to kill it, but I never
could. I'd think I finally got it and then out it would come again - a big
ugly head on a long neck that would come out of a pit and shoot explosive
fireballs at you. You'd think heaving explosive charges into the pit would
eventually have gotten it. But no! That just made it mad. You need the
right weapon with the right weapon upgrade to beat it, but I thought I had
that weapon upgraded enough.
Most of your time playing Outcast you will be helping out individual
Talans as you try to locate the 4 Mons which are supposed to help you
defeat Fae Rhan. The Mons exist on 4 of the different worlds. In order to
find the Mon, you must question the inhabitants, and for them to help you,
you must often help them. Much of my time was spent looking for the people
I was supposed to be helping. The best way to do this is to ask one of the
nearby Talan where the person you're looking for is. This works well in
Shamazaar. The Talan either tells you, for example, "many steps east of
here" or, if the one you're looking for is close by, he'll point to him.
But in Okriana, there were many buildings, so when the helpful Talan is
pointing out my quarry, he often ends up pointing at a building. And the
guy I'm looking for may be inside the building, on the other side of the
building, or 2 or 3 buildings away.
Outcast is non-linear and you can move between the worlds as much as you
like. However, there are so many side tasks that I preferred to finish as
many of them as I could before moving to another world, where there will
certainly be more side tasks to accomplish. You need to accomplish a
certain number of side tasks in order to impress the Talans enough that
they will believe in you and help you. But you don't need to do them all
to finish the game.
I should mention something about the weapons. Most of them can be bought
in Okriana. Most of the upgrades for these weapons can also be bought in
Okriana, though it may be tricky to find the exact merchant with the
weapon or upgrade you need. The merchants are usually distinctive from
other Talans because they tend to be plump and dress in silken robes and
turbans, while most Talans are really skinny and dress in something
simple. However these arms merchants tend to wander around Okriana. So you
may have to wander the city, asking every merchant you meet what he has
Ammo can either be found lying around unattended on rooftops or in
storehouses, or it can be created by some of the friendly inhabitants who
are blessed with the ability to create such things. Cutter only has to
deliver the raw materials to them and then leave them for a while so they
have time to generate the ammo.
The weapons are known by numbers and letters. Why they couldn't just say
gun or mortar-thrower I don't know. I was always having to look up the
more advanced weapons in my manual, though I do remember the standard gun
was the HK-P12. Those who enjoy combat will probably enjoy formulating the
best strategy to attack a group of soldiers, using the most advantageous
weapons and positioning Cutter behind buildings and other barriers. Here's
a list of the weapons:
HK-P12 - Standard issue sidearm - 2 upgrades available
UZA-SH - Tracer - 2 upgrades available
SLNT-B - Dart gun - fires lethal poisonous capsules - recommended for
long-distance combat - 2 upgrades available
HAWK-MK8 - Perforator gun - 2 upgrades available
LN-DUO 500 - Boomer gun - mortar-like explosive - 2 upgrades available
FT-74 - Flame thrower
In addition, Cutter will sometimes find dynamite to use to clear debris,
etc. I believe the LN-DUO 500 is the gun you need to get the well working
again. Next time I play the game, I will experiment more with using the
weapons on the soldiers instead of only using the weapons at the few times
when fists were ineffective.
The music for Outcast is outstanding. It is provided by the Moscow
Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and sounds like the soundtrack from an epic
movie. Fae Rhan's soldiers will occasionally attack you. You are warned of
their presence by the game's music, which changes to a threatening march
at their approach.
Outcast was made to work with DirectX 6.1. I played it with DirectX 7a
with essentially no problems. I don't know how well it would work with
DirectX 8a. There is a patch for Outcast that is almost 12 MB. You can
download it from Adrenaline Vault
or this Outcast tech help site
and probably from other places as well.
There was one point where my screen froze during a conversation with the
ammo maker in Shamazaar. During conversations in Okriana, I sometimes
noticed the screen going all blue or all brown as one of the characters
was talking. Eventually I realized this was because the camera changes
position according to where the character is standing. It always wants to
view Cutter from the same distance and from the same angle during
conversations. And in crowded Okriana, the camera sometimes chose a
viewpoint from inside of a wall. Hence, the entire screen became the color
of the wall. It was possible to avoid this little bug by being careful
about where I positioned Cutter before initiating a conversation.
When you manage to finish the game, there is a little surprise waiting for
you after the credits. Don't miss it.
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