The Outfit ReviewCain Dornan
Attempting to offer up a more unique take on the World War II shooter genre, developer Relic has pulled inspiration from various past games and injected a level of originality into their first title on the Xbox 360, The Outfit. While the game does manage to offer a level of originality from the countless other 3rd person shooters currently on the market, the elements that make the game unique simply arent quite as enjoyable as they should be. The end result? A game that attempts to achieve a level of frantic and simplistic enjoyment that separates itself from the other clones, but fails in doing so by offering an experience that is far too straightforward and repetitive.
Based in and around 1944, when World War II was still in full swing, The Outfits storyline centers around the experiences of three elite American soldiers. All three are your stereotypical, super tough and war-hardened action heroes that wield their own personalized weapons, offering a level of variance between each player that results in your plan of attack during missions differing slightly based on the character that you are using. Despite this, the variation between each of the players fails to inject any significant alteration in each of the missions that the single player campaign pits you through, with all feeling remarkably similar and involving almost identical gameplay in order to complete.
Essentially, each mission simply involves moving from one side of the map to the other, mowing down waves of Nazi troops and armor while completing the occasional side mission, which usually involves taking control of a specific strategic point or destroying a building. The difference between each mission, apart from the different map design in which it takes place, is very limited in change between each mission. After completing only a few missions, most gamers will begin to tire of the repetitive nature that The Outfit ensues, regardless of how much simplistic fun it does provide within the fist two or three hours of gameplay.
The first mission teaches you the basics of gameplay step-by-step. Thankfully, this tutorial mode of sorts is far from boring or strenuous, gradually introducing you to the controls and gameplay factors as needed. For instance, in one situation you are being bombarded by several flows of Nazi troops. In order to hold your ground, you are guided through the process of setting up stationary machine gun posts that make quick work of any advancing enemies. The tutorial doesnt guide you through the process by tightly holding your hand and forcing you to do things in any particular way, but it does provide plenty of information and tips so that you know how to best play the game effectively.
Speaking of setting up machine gun nests, this is achieved through the games interesting Destruction on Demand menu, which is accessed by tapping the Y button. From here, you are offered a small bubble of different objects that you can request for deployment on a designated location, such as a tank, a jeep, turret, machine gun nest, an air strike or even additional infantry reinforcements, with up to five units being allowed within your control at any one time. Once you have made your selection using this menu, your requested item is airlifted straight into the fray within seconds, providing you with near-instant access to a range of different offensive and defensive items, however, you cant simply request as many items as you want. Each request for an item comes at a cost, with the efficiency of each item ultimately determining how many points you will be charged for requesting an item to be airlifted into battle. These points can be gained by killing enemy units or by gaining control of significant locations.
Due to the rapid deployment of weaponry, vehicles or further reinforcements, The Outfit has the potential of being a thoroughly frantic experience. While this is often evident throughout the single player campaign (although there are plenty of moments where it is far too quiet), this is particularly noticeable in the head-to-head multiplayer elements, which can be played through either split-screen or over Xbox Live. When competing against players, you have the option of either a deathmatch event (which rewards players for simply killing each other), or the more varied strategic mode, which rewards points to players who hold the larger collection of strategic establishments and buildings. Both modes can be played online or off, with little noticeable problems occurring in either instances. If you dont fancy in competing against human players, you can also have a go at the campaign mode in a multiplayer fashion, which again can be achieved through either split-screen or online player. This co-op mode sees each player controlling their own individual character, capable of leading five units each and issuing their own requests for items.
While the multiplayer modes are certainly more engaging and run without any major hiccups that the single campaign doesnt already suffer from, the lack of online players when we were playing through the game was underwhelming. Far too often we spent some twenty minutes searching for players to compete against, only to come trudging away disappointed after failing to find a single competitor in either the ranked or unranked matches. Its disappointing, as the rare occasion in which we were able to find someone to play against was worthwhile.
Unfortunately, The Outfit fails to make full use of the Xbox 360s next-generation hardware to produce impressive visuals and sound. While an assortment of simplistic and over-the-top sound effects, voice over and music usually suit the games premise , the visuals are underwhelming in all cases. The textures, detail and overall look of the game feels very much last generation, with most of the visuals possibly capable of being produced on the original Xbox (without the presence of high-definition polish). The game is far from ugly, but it certainly doesnt offer the level of detail and presentation that one would usually expect from a game designed specifically for a next-generation console.
The Outfit had good intentions of providing a new, refreshing and laid-back approach to the overfilled 3rd person shooter genre, but it fails in successfully pulling off most of its plans. The cutscenes that occur in-between missions are usually entertaining and non-serious, sticking true to the games premise, however, the overly repetitive nature of the single player campaign leaves plenty to be desired. The frantic and usually enjoyable multiplayer modes to help make up for some lost gameplay life, although, not all gamers will fancy the multiplayer gameplay. Ultimately, its a hit or miss affair; some players will enjoy and appreciate the simplistic appeal that the game offers, while others will bore of what is on offer within only a few short hours.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.