Outwars

a game by Microsoft
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 2 reviews
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SingleTrac, developer of such games as Jet Moto, Twisted Metal, and Warhawk, targets the PC with its latest creation, Outwars. In a plot that sounds a little bit too much like last summer's Starship Troopers, you lead a team of A.I.-enhanced space marines against an onslaught of alien insects through 26 levels--you'll even buzz around with a jetpack in some of them. Before each mission, not only will you choose your teammates, but you'll select your weapons from an impressive arsenal, too. Also in the plus column is the game's support of Direct3D and Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone for online play. If MDK left you wanting more, you may want to enlist for Outwars.

Game Reviews

Overview

You are an elite futuristic Marine protecting the universe from vicious hordes of aliens. This is not a 3D shooter, although it does at times have the feel of one; it is a combat simulation. Take the best of a game like Mechwarrior 2, combine it with Quake II and you have Outwars. Your jet pack, used correctly in short bursts, will allow you to spend a lot of time in the air. This gives you the ability to maneuver and to cross various different types of terrain easily. Hang time is maximized when you obtain the glider wings. Just keep in mind that your work is never done. There always seems to be more hordes of aliens to kill, so keep sharp and move quickly.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The game is based on missions. To advance, you need to complete each mission in sequence. You will find some missions more challenging than others. My only advice is to slug it out and keep trying. You will eventually get through the mission.

Controls: This is probably the hardest part about the game. Controlling your Marine commando takes a fair amount of practice. This game is challenging, but worth the time spent learning to maneuver. It is helpful if you can watch someone experienced play. In watching, I saw a different perspective on movement and tactics. As you play with others, you will find yourself asking "how did they do that?" Then you will find yourself investigating what features you have overlooked and adding them to your arsenal. My friends and I have found that a combination of keyboard and mouse works well. I do not think a joystick is the way to play this game; there are just too many things you will want to use and you will run out of buttons on most or all joysticks before you run out of necessary controls.

Interface: There is a lot in the display to watch. To survive in battle, you will learn to take quick readings and keep moving. Let’s face it, if it were too easy it would not be much fun. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you start to get the hang of it. Like the 3D shooters, there are the vital statistics on your health and armaments. Keep an eye on both. Remember, run away and live to fight another day.

Customization

Any and all controls can be changed. I found the default settings not to my liking, but I have a friend who suggested a combination of keyboard and mouse settings that worked pretty well for me. I am not that good yet, but even playing poorly in this game is fun. You also get to configure what type of suit you will use and what weapons you want on it. Each suit has different jump jet capabilities and armor classes. This allows the less experienced player to use a less agile arrangement with heavier armor; if you are not yet adept at controlling your movement, this will help you to survive slugging it out. As you practice your moves, you will find what works for you and you will move to less armor and more movement. As you get better you find that using the lighter armor, which has more maneuvering capabilities, will pay off once you can move around the playing field. This takes more skill but does pay off with the increased agility and speed.

Graphics

The look of the game is going to depend heavily on your video card. Outwars can show off your expensive video card. In this game, more is better; the graphics are still okay with a lesser video card but this is a must-see with a good quality 4 MB card, or better yet 8 or 12 MB. It is not required, but the 16-bit graphics are very nice. It does not require 3D graphics support, but if you do have such a card you will be rewarded with a visual smorgasbord. The graphics can distract you at first since there is so much to look at; you can sometimes forget you are under fire. With each mission, you have the help of navigation points to help you find the goal.

Audio

The sound was great. The only drawback I could find in the sound was in the mission briefings. I wanted a lot more detail in the video clips and mission briefings. Since this is already on a two-CD set there was probably not enough room for more robust video and audio clips, but I still wanted more. There is a real combat quality to the sounds during game play. There are the expected static clicks and soldier lingo that add to the simulation.

System Requirements

Pentium 133 or higher, Windows 95, 16 MB RAM, 25 MB hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive, SVGA video card supporting 16-bit color, mouse, sound card and speakers or headphones, 3D accelerated video for best graphic quality, 28.8 Kbps modem for head-to-head play, and Internet access for Internet play

Documentation

The documentation was typical for games these days -- only a CD-sized booklet that gives you the basics of playing the game. There is also a 3-page foldout (CD-sized) quick reference card. I found this to be very useful when learning the game, since there are a lot of controls. It would have been nice to have a hints section in the guide to help you get started. I wanted more printed material with this game.

Bottom Line

It is time to enlist. Unlike the movie Starship Troopers, this is great jumpsuit combat! Time to strap on your jump jets and get to boot camp. Only the best go on, and you will be the best, sooner or later. In my case the key word is "later," but I am having fun. I give this game a 90. Outwars is creative in the combination of the best parts of a combat simulation, adding the feel and touch of a 3D shooter. I like the combination a lot. This game will appeal to a lot of people; just do not let the default controls discourage you. Find what works for you and what is comfortable. If you play a lot of 3D shooters, this will expand your horizons and if you play a lot of simulations, it will allow you to play from the 3D shooter perspective, the best of both worlds.

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