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Outcast (Windows)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
86
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  -Chris (7365)
Written on  :  Sep 05, 2000
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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Summary

Who is Shamaz Keb?

The Good

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our lecture "Game design -- how to do it right, for those who need it most." Ah, I see many familiar faces in the crowd today -- there's Westwood over there; most of the staff of Nihilistic, hi guys! And, yes, none of the German developers seems to be missing. Very good. Now, how do you get to know the secret of excellent game design? All of you should have received a copy of Outcast upon entering. Now do the following: Go home. Play Outcast. Learn. That's it. Class dismissed!

I do not want to go into the obvious details, such as the technical brilliancy or the immersive game world that make Outcast an outstanding experience. But there are a few things that are easily overlooked, and which add to the overall atmosphere and playability a lot. Outcast is full of ingenious answers to those little questions that come with the complexity of a huge world. How do I find a certain person in a crowd? By asking your way through, as anyone will point you to the one you seek. How do I find small objects in the wilderness? By following the marks that your visor draws around them. How do I cut a long walk to the other end of a continent short? By using portable teleporters that you can deploy anywhere you like. These features are small, yet a boon for fluent gameplay.

Another thing that has earned special attention are the excellent sound effects. From the smooth splashing of the waves in Okasankaar to the busy chatter in the city of Okriana -- the FX underline the character of each continent. From the soft humming of the teleport daokas to the shouts of approaching guards -- the FX help you orientate yourself. The FX are not only decorative, they're important -- but never obtrusive. This is a lesson that many a software company has yet to learn. Oh, and did I mention the impressive orchestral soundtrack and the perfect voice acting?

The Bad

Who is Shamaz Keb? This is a question that'll keep you occupied in Outcast. It's the only downside of Appeals' exotic game world: the names. It's okay to design a credible culture. But it's not necessary to scare inexperienced players with an overkill of expressions. In a typical mission, the Ulukai'd have to ride his Twon-ha through the daoka to Okasankaar and fight Gamors to collect zlingtog for Jeokaze in Okriana. See what I mean? As a consequence, you'll need quite some patience to make yourself familiar with Adelpha (that's the world's name, by the way).

The Bottom Line

Outcast is one of the Top 3 games of 1999. An admirable piece of art, technical as well as in terms of design, it is one of those few milestones that prove that computer games have evolved from being toys to a serious and independent form of modern entertainment.