Outcast: Second Contact – Xbox One Review

Having been inundated with huge open world games over the last couple of decades, some repetitive (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs) with others offering fun and varied gameplay (Saints Row the Third), there has to be that one game that started it all. Outcast: Second Contact is a HD remake of the original game Outcast that was released on PC back in 1999, which defined open world adventure games that we know today, but how does it hold up eighteen years later?

It’s 1999 and the government – along with top scientists, are experimenting with fringe science. New discoveries have been made regarding anti matter and the ability to manipulate it, which has caused a portal to a parallel universe to open up. The problem is, is that during these tests, someone (or something) from the other side has thrown the testing equipment right back through the portal which has caused a vortex to spread in our world, and if it’s not contained within the next couple of days, it will eat everything in our world. In comes Cutter Slade to be brought back on board with the government and assist the scientists in finding a fix for this issue by visiting this parallel universe known as Adelpha.

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As Cutter Slade, you’re immediately thrown into the world of Adelpha, having lost your team, and a group of rebels of the Talan race have taken you in and brought you back to good health. You recover your backpack and are then introduced to the inhabitants and learn of Adelpha’s enemies. Whilst the Talan race look like an unusual hybrid of E.T and human likeness, it also resembles the fact that this is parallel to Earth and not just some alien world that most sci-fi video games seem to have opted to go with regarding these types of games.

The controls are kept relatively simple and seemed to have transferred well from PC considering this is the game’s first foray onto consoles however, with that being said, the controls do seem a little stiff but this is coming from an era where 3D technology in gaming was advancing at an exceptional rate and this title being the first to incorporate an open world, it’s definitely not a deal breaker. There are plenty of futuristic guns and items at your disposal, with you uncovering more as you progress.

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What is interesting though, is the saving mechanism. One which I’ve never quite seen like this before. Right before you set off on your adventure to help the world of Adelpha (before helping your own world), you are given a wonderful piece of technology called the ‘GaamSaav’. You can whip this out at any point during the game to save your progress, which according to one of the Talans it “Digitally imprints a version of you should you die” – it’s nice to see a game actually try to explain as to why you can die and respawn. We’ve all become so used to gaming being given common mechanics of saving that we never question as to why we can save or in fact ‘be brought back to life’ in games that heavily feature story and narrative gameplay. Another interesting facet of the GaamSaav is that if you use it within a set proximity of enemies, it will alert them and they will come after you, so you actually have to be careful on whereabouts you should save.

As this is an open world game, and one that wouldn’t really be “defining” without it, this has countless side quests for you to discover, some simple ‘collect from person B and bring back to person A’ type quests, whereas others are more involved, requiring you to hunt down certain enemies or gather a set amount of resources. Some side quests, along with the majority of the main quests do actually affect how you shape the world of Adelpha. Having never played this title before, the more I played it, the more I realised that big games such as the Mass Effect series have heavily borrowed elements from Outcast – right from the narrative, giving you multiple response choices, some of which can change how a person thinks of you, through to the actual cover-and-shoot system this game has in place. If I had never played a Mass Effect title before and was watching someone else play Outcast: Second Contact, I’d be mistaken for thinking this could actually be a Mass Effect game.

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Aesthetically, this game has it all. The locations vary from snowy villages and blizzard-filled mountains, to acres of green lands filled with gorgeous backdrops. It’s amazing how well this game can actually stand the test of time, considering this is a game that is nearly two decades old. Of course, you can still tell that this is a game that wasn’t made this generation, but it could certainly pass for a game developed for the Xbox 360. The developer Appeal have done a remarkable job at bringing this to our attention for console players who never had the chance to play this on PC all those years ago.

Overall, Outcast: Second Contact will rake in plenty of hours and you’ll never be short on something to do. With a brilliant story and narrative – although the voice acting could have been improved somewhat as it just sounds like it’s been redubbed, this game stands out in its own right as a remake. This title has brilliant gunplay, although controls are stiff, and the cover system is good when you can use it – sometimes it feels like there aren’t another surroundings for you to use as cover, but nevertheless it’s not necessarily needed. This game should be tried by all, even if it is just to witness the game that started open world gaming.

Outcast: Second Contact is available to purchase from retailers or can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £35.99.

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