Review: Outcast: Second Contact (PS4)

Review: Outcast: Second Contact (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Outcast: Second Contact
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (14.33 GB)
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Developer: Appeal
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI:
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The original Outcast released in 1999 and was considered revolutionary for being one of the first open world adventure games of the 3D era.

Being a PC exclusive, it might have been overlooked by many. It also happened to release a few years before Grand Theft Auto III, which ended up turning the open world genre into a juggernaut and may have overshadowed the accomplishments of Outcast.

Eighteen years later, Outcast has received a makeover with enhanced visuals and the ability to finally play the classic game on a console.

You play as Cutter Slade, a former Navy SEAL, on a mission to retrieve a probe that was accidentally picked up by an alien lifeform in a parallel universe which caused a black hole to open up and threaten to destroy the world.

Accompanied by three scientists, Slade sets out to retrieve the probe only for his group to be separated. Now on a foreign planet called Adelpha, Slade must reunite with his party, find the probe and save the people of Adelpha from their sadistic ruler.

The story can come across as dense due to all the alien lexicon you’re thrust into. You are called Ulukai, portals are Daokas, etc. There’s a lot going on there and you have to pay attention to the subtitles since they define the foreign words every time. Without the subtitles it’s easy to get lost and not understand what your mission actually is about.

The people of Adelpha are oppressed and in dire need of assistance and Slade reluctantly helps, though he undercuts most serious moments with cheesy one liners. There’s a lot of suspect writing here. The NPCs are poorly written and when they attempt to get serious Slade just hits them with jokes that severely ruins any attempt to bring a moment of levity to the situation. It was 1999 though so I shouldn’t expect much from the story and maybe it’s meant to be a comedy, I don’t know.

From a gameplay perspective, Outcast obviously feels dated. The controls are stiff and the animations lack variety and fluidity. A lot of work clearly went into remaking the game, but not enough was done to make it feel modern. Instead the controls feel like they’re trapped in time and going into this experience without the nostalgia of the original meant I was often frustrated with the lack of modern amenities.

The shooting is my biggest issue. It’s stiff and the weapons, while diverse, are dull and a chore to control. The shooting has to rely on auto-aiming to even work since trying to play against the auto-aim is not an option or you might end up frustrated.

The stiff animations also make the platforming a chore. These sections border on maddening with the chances of missing a jump a common issue.

The game is open world and the mission structure boils down to fetch quests and simple tasks given to you by NPCs. I actually enjoyed some of the story because of the side quests. Under the rough exterior and lame jokes, I found myself intrigued by the world of Adelpha. The alien planet is filled with sci-fi cliches and the writing isn’t all there, but a cool world has been built and I enjoyed exploring and interacting with the characters that filled it.

Visuals:
When comparing this to the original, it’s obvious how much the visuals have been improved. The world is now more lush and the character models look vastly superior than their 1990’s counterparts. Just looking at the main character, he went from looking like a busted low-poly Henry Rollins to a halfway decent PS2 era Nathan Drake.

Where the visuals breakdown for me are in the animations, they are way too stiff. While there are more than there were before, they’re not up to snuff with current gen titles. The poor or limited animations cause the platforming and shooting to be more of hassle than they need to be.

Audio:
Outcast has a fantastic score that is one of the few things from the original game that stand up to the test of time. It’s a great orchestral score that brings an adventure film vibe to this action-adventure game.

The voice acting on the other hand, doesn’t hold up quite as well as the music. The voice work is decent for most of the main characters, but a combination of the writing and odd audio issues hurt some of the performances.

Some of it has odd imbalances as if different methods were used to record the actors or they were mixed poorly. Some characters will sound like they were recorded in a tin box and others will have their levels way higher than the person they are interacting with. It can be jarring going from NPC to NPC and hearing completely different audio quality.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Outcast is considered a cult classic and is something PC gamers from the late 90’s and early 2000’s hold dear to their heart. And while the thought of a remake/remaster sounded like a good idea, the execution here is not pulled off well enough.

Fans of the original and video game historians are the only ones that will get anything from Second Contact. It’s a remake that could have used more time in the oven. The steps done to make the game feel modern weren’t enough to make it not feel like a relic. The stiff animations and a handful of bugs and glitches hurt the overall experience and keep it from being something special.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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