Outcast: Second Contact (Xbox One Review)
Outcast was once praised for its open-ended gameplay structure. You could explore a fully crafted 3D world, freely choose which objectives to take on first, hailed for superb sound design — amongst other remarks. It wasn’t perfect, but critics praised it. However, that was then, and this is now. Outcast may have been a superb adventure game for its time, but the ‘remaster’ Outcast: Second Contact’s attempt to revive that sense of accomplishment doesn’t quite hit the mark this time around.
You play as Cutter Slade, a former U.S. Navy Seal. The best of the best. You’ve been tasked with repairing the damages brought on by the U.S. government’s attempts to create a portal to another world. After beaming through a faulty probe that opens a rupture in space and time. It’s now upto Slade and his team to go through this recently opened portal to repair this broken probe, in hopes that it reverts this catastrophic rupture, saving Earth. While Slade does have a small team of scientists to begin with, they are wholly forgettable. As we briefly see them in the introductory scenes, filling in some technical jargon and unneeded emotional drama for the mission ahead. Soon after, they are separated from Slade as they head through the portal to Adelpha.
As Slade and the braintrust take their first step’s through the portal, they end up on Adelpha. Adelpha is the world in which Slade is now stranded in until his mission is complete –repairing the broken probe– but is immediately sidetracked by the presence of the Talon — Adelpha’s resident humanoid species. The foremost objective of saving Earth has ultimately been abandoned to now run tasks and everyday jobs for the Talon. Your teammates are amiss and potentially in danger, but who has time for that when you’re making new friends. Unfortunately, that’s the gist of Outcast: Second Contact’s story and characters, they are mostly throwaway. Your teammates are no longer relevant and the mission apparantly forfit for the sake of tieing in the race of the Talon as a constant means of interaction and artificial importance. Which all feels rather forced.
The Talon are so similar in design to one another that they leave little to no impact on the player and the world in general. Their prominence being a cosmetic tool for Adelpha, making the world more lively and lived in. Conversations are dry and, oddly, most Talon dialogue has a strange pitch to them. Words conveyed by the Talon are shouted to the player than spoken, whether it’s to do with the recording equipment used at the time or just a poor acting, it’s fairly jarring.
When you’re not being seemingly scolded by the local residents, you are free to roam the worlds of Adelpha tracking down the ‘Mon’ — ancient artifacts that the Talon hold dear. Usually guarded by a group of renegade Talon known as the Fae Rhan. Again they are largely dissimilar from one another apart from a few palette swaps that govern their strength, requiring more bullets to take down.
Aiming is done by auto locking onto enemies and holding down the fire button. This auto locking feature may seem to hold your hand too tightly to begin with but you’ll soon discover that enemies are clunky bullet sponges that only get harder to take down as you progress. So you’ll be thankfully for the encroaching lock-on system as you continue to take down the Fae Rhan.
Slade on the other hand isn’t much worse than the clunky enemies in terms of movement. His rigid frame often gets him stuck on scenery, or in scenery in some cases. Slade’s jumping mechanic, assisted by a small jetpack, propels him upward or forward. Either one foot in front of him or six feet ahead, with no in-between. Making some gaps and climbs problematic.
However, the one good thing that players can take away from Outcast: Second Contact is its sheer excellence in graphical quality, showing the capabilities that relics from a bygone era can achieve. The varied environments, from lush and lavish jungles to arid deserts, each and every area is pleasing on the eyes. Hell, even the water is spectacularly brought to life thanks to the high resolution textures and lighting. All five worlds of Adelpha are a treat to explore thanks to this graphical upgrade, with fauna and other creatures feeling true to their environment. You’ll likely tread over a few materials and goodies here and there for you to collect such as: metals, crystal substances and even seashells. But for the life of me had no clue what the point of any of these items where. Each item having no obivous effect other than what appeared aesthetic; nice to look at but holds not value. Whether these items have a purpose is still unbeknownst to me as the nature of Outcast: Second Contact’s mechnics aren’t very intuitive to begin with.
Outcast: Second Contact looks like a completely new game. And that’s its problem. Outcast: Second Contact only has re-texturing to its advantage, with mechanics and audio left untouched. Its glossy coat promising more than it had. A few tweaks to the audio presentation and how Slade handles could’ve gone a long way to bettering the experience. Those who have dabbled with Outcast in the past may find naught but nostalgic memories to power them through, other than that, there’s nothing to be had here. This is re-texturing at its finest, but it’s not a remaster.