One of the most amazing turnarounds in computer gaming history, Outpost 2: Divided Destiny is a great space strategy game that is everything its awful predecessor was not: a solid and entertaining conquer-the-universe game with its own identity. While Outpost was over-hyped to death, Outpost 2 was severely under-marketed. The damage done by Outpost was so severe that most gamers were turned away from the game just because it has "Outpost" in the title. Sierra's bold decision to market Outpost 2 as a sequel is an unfortunate mistake that resulted in a great game that is overlooked by many-- our perfect candidate for a Top Dog. Replacing rocket scientist Bruce Balfour with Pat Cook, FPS: Football creator and Cinemaware veteran, proved to be the best move Sierra did to resuscitate the series. |
So how was a Real Dog turned into Top Dog material in the sequel? Ty Brewer's review says it all:
"Outpost 2 is a real-time strategy game with a different approach (aren't all games this season?). It would be easy to categorize Outpost 2 in terms of Command & Conquer or even SimCity, but comparisons would be unfair and inaccurate. Outpost 2 has elements of SimCity: develop a city, grow the population, establish an economy, protect against natural disasters, etc. It also has elements of Command & Conquer: mine minerals to build structures and units; build a military for protection and aggresion. Still, Outpost 2 is not just the sum of the two games. It would be easy to turn this game into another clone of "C&C in Space" or even "SimCity in Space" but they didn't.
The focus of the game is the happiness and survival of the colonists - the last remaining survivors of an Earth catastrophe. These survivors were smart enough to abandon the doomed Earth and tended to be scientists - the most evolved form of life on our planet. Their mission is to re-build the human species. Of course we all know scientists are a flakey bunch, sometimes being out of touch with the same reality the public subscribes to. For some reason these scientists are only happy doing research or teaching. Imagine that. Somewhere along these lines the scientists realized they must have someone around to empty the garbage. That represents the focus of the game: keep the scientists happy so they can research new technologies to make the workers happy. But not all is well in paradise. A splinter group has formed that disagrees with the direction of the colony's future. Now two colonies compete for resources - both human and natural. Game players can take the side of either Eden or Plymouth, with slight distinctions in technology and intent. This isn't life in a fishbowl, there are sharks out there who will gladly take what you do not protect. All games come with a "storyline" that attempts to explain why you are at the point you are now. Outpost 2 keeps telling the story as you play. Each new mission includes a lengthy "novella" with characters and events which helps to explain your current scenario. While the writing style is a bit melodramatic, the story does add to the game.
But then a funny thing happened. I don’t know why but they must have felt pressure to appease the Command & Conquer types out there. For some reason they added combat units to the game, almost as an afterthought. While combat does fit into the storyline, it still seems a little "bolted on" during gameplay. Worse, the units are lacking in execution. Basically, all combat units are "civilian" chassis retrofitted with armaments. This stands to reason - the first tank was an artillery gun mounted on a car. Where they screwed up was the way they pulled it off. The units lack polish and completeness. The weapons have an "early beta" look and sound quality. The whole combat thing in general looks amateur. No neato sound effects. No neato explosions. No smooth rotating sprites that actually look like they are pointing at their target.
This is where the illusion fell apart. For all the promise of the game, it fails to deliver at critical moments. In many ways this game is polished and ready for prime time, but in other ways it still feels like a beta product. No crashes or errors, but it just doesn’t feel complete." Perhaps a game that was released too early for its time, but still a very enjoyable game that should please Command & Conquer fans who want more realistic resource management, and SimCity fans who want the storyline and combat elements. Thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs