Outpost 2: Divided Destiny
Sierra Dynamix has produced a real slug fest. That's slug, as in the snail without a shell. This is perhaps the slowest moving RTS game I've ever played. Units move across a dull, lifeless playing field as if it was made of some sticky goo. Waiting for structures to be built or workers to be trained requires a prescription of muscle relaxing tranquilizers from your doctor so that you don't totally cramp up while waiting for things to happen.is entirely frustrating. Almost everything about it makes you wanna bust out in tears. Unfortunately, the game comes with no tissues and no Ben-Gay.
The story: The last survivors on earth have found a new planet to colonize. True to human nature, once they arrive they split into two opposing factions. One faction wants to terraform the planet so that it looks like Earth. The other faction wants no part of this, and thinks that the planet should be left in its pristine state -- yeah right! Like this planet is beautiful for being totally lifeless, extremely flat, and less (much less) than some place you'd send a postcard from, saying 'wish you were here.' Anyway, the two factions both find that the planet is a lot less hospitable than they thought. Something goes awry with terraforming the planet. And the planet itself is volcanic and has frequent earthquakes. Depending on which side you choose to play, you're faced with either lava flows that destroy your colony, or some genetically freaked-out kind of mold that destroys your colony (amazingly) just like lava does. Uh-huh.
There are two kinds of scenarios to play for the single player: 1) Colony, where you are to build a colony or rescue yours, and 2) Missions, where completion of one leads to the next. The Colony games for either side play exactly like each other, leaving desire for something more for your money. The missions seem detached from one another, with no continuity and no story flow.
Playability is less than anyone would expect from a company with as long and successful a history as Sierra. Use of the mouse is extremely frustrating. Point to a cell, and click. Oops! Try that again. The cell pointed to doesn't get the focus. Try selecting a group of units by lassoing them. Uh-uh! You rarely get them all. If you already have some unit selected, and click to lasso another unit or units, the lasso doesn't even work. Instead, the mouse down action causes the already selected unit to move to the new location. Whoops! Go back to the units, and tell them to stop. Then go to the units you wanted to select and try again. This ain't no fun. No fun at all.
Outpost 2 plays much like SimCity. Select a building, say the structure factory, and tell it what to build. That is, if you can find it. The buildings have no resemblance to anything recognizable (for instance, an apartment complex looks like the gas tank off a vintage power lawn mower), and even after 35 hours of play I still have difficulty finding the right building. Also, if you decide you want to play the other side, be prepared to learn all the buildings again -- they don't look anything like the other side's, even though they have the same functionality. Ack! Who thought this up? Anyway, back to the structure factory. You tell the building to build a research center kit. Then park a mobile construction yard on its docking bay. Then, after the building kit is complete, load it into the construction yard. The animation takes six seconds! During this time you cannot do anything. Arrgh! Then, after it is loaded, just try selecting the MCV, now that it's part of the structure factory. If you don't go nuts trying to select it, you will by the time it reaches its destination. IF (a big if) you managed to stay sane up till here, just wait till you see how long it takes to build the kit!
What all this boils down to is hurry up and wait.
Battle in Outpost 2 is, in a word, boring! Everything shoots lasers. Everything moves slower than a sloth in a tar pit! "Less than exciting" is an overstatement. Nothing comes galloping to the rescue. Nothing has special abilities. By the time units get into position, you could have baked a pie.
The savant computer's voice, warning you of imminent danger, is a constant annoyance in this game. Every 15 seconds you are warned that an earthquake was detected, or an asteroid is coming, or the volcano is about to erupt. Even more annoying is the messages about your colony's morale (ya gotta keep 'em happy). "Morale is fair." "Morale is poor." "Morale is terrible." YER DAMN RIGHT, LADY! I'm about to go outta my mind. TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG! I finally figured out how to find this out. Gosh! It was only four mouse clicks away all the time. But if the computer is so savant, why didn't it tell me why? And why does it take four (4) mouse clicks to get the info?
Outpost 2's missions are really races against the clock. It's a puzzle with a time limit. You are assigned certain tasks to accomplish before the volcano erupts (or the funky mold comes to attack your tin can buildings). If the lava reaches you before you get it all done, start over and wait some more. Arrgh! But if you accomplish the task in record time, the AI finds new objectives for you to reach. I gather that this is supposed to help build suspense, but in fact it's infuriating. You might not get it right the second time, although you've done a lot better. Then the third time is even harder! Is this Outpost 2's artificial intelligence? Nothing else about the game is intelligent, so I figure this has got to be it!
The manual is just chock full of tutorials. No explanations, just tutorials. This hardly serves as a quick reference guide, and proves to be just as slow as the game. I contacted Sierra to get some additional info, with little success.
Minimum: Pentium 90, 16 MB RAM, 32k colors, 4X CD-ROM drive, 16-bit sound card
All in all, Outpost 2 is one to avoid. Had I not made a commitment to GameFabrique to write a review, I never would have spent the thirty-five hours I did with it. The game lacks excitement, is difficult to use and is painfully slow. The graphics are lackluster and unimaginative (or perhaps too imaginative, 'cause its so hard to identify units and buildings). The sound effects are not entertaining, and the music score is something akin to a cross between disco and Rock 'n Roll. Outpost 2 is neither a good game, nor good software. However, Sierra Dynamix did thoughtfully put it in a really attractive box.