Outcast - Second Contact Review: Familiar Story but With a New Look
If you have been interested in gaming for as long as I have, you might be familiar with a game called Outcast. It was originally released in 1999 by Belgian developers Appeal. It was hugely popular and has since become a bit of a cult classic. The newly released Outcast - Second Contact is a remastered version of the game with updated graphics and gameplay to make it suitable for today's gaming tastes and console suitability.
The original game was a groundbreaker! It was innovative and was the first 3D open-world exploration game to be released. Upon release, it won hundreds of awards, including Adventure Game of the Year 1999 from GameSpot. There are a couple of sequels, but none lived up to the popularity of the first.
Anyway, you aren't here for a history lesson about the original game. You want to know what I think about the remake, right? Instead of playing it again on PC, I played it on the PS4 so that I could see how different it felt playing it on a modern console.
The Story Stays True
If you are already familiar with the game, then you're going to be familiar with the storyline. It hasn't changed (it is a remake, after all). If you're new to the game, however, you're going to find the storyline quite interesting.
Outcast - Second Contact is set in the near future and explores the possibilities of alternate universes. You play as a Navy SEAL called Cutter Slade, and along with a team of scientists, you are sent through a portal into a new world, Adelpha, to recover a probe previously sent through by the US government. As you explore your new surroundings, you come across the world's inhabitants and all manner of new flora and fauna.
You are the Ulukai, the foretold Messiah who the inhabitants think is going to save their world from war and persecution. In order to complete your own mission, you have to help the inhabitants of Adelpha with their problems. If they think you are helping them, they are more likely to help you.
A Total Facelift
It's clear that the main draw of this remaster is the work that has been done to improve the graphics. Everything now has so much more texture and depth than the original had. One of the main points of the game is to explore, and you really want to explore this new land. Close attention has been paid to giving everything a new life.
My only negative comments on the game's graphics are to do with the intro. While I can see that they're going for something a bit artistic -- and that is quite good -- I don't think it paid off. The characters are very still and very much like cardboard cutouts. It doesn't really gel with the original. I wanted to watch the whole introduction to get reacquainted with the story, but I wanted it to be over quite early on. Of course, this is personal taste, but given the rest of the game's graphics upgrades and the actual storyline, I think the introduction to it could have been a bit more ... substantial.
Playing on a Console Works
I didn't have any problems playing the game with a controller. The controls are crisp, and I had no problems moving around. There have been some movement features added to this new version, including the ability to sprint and crouch, which definitely make gameplay better. It's simple things like that which make the game more relevant to today's open-world fans, as they are features that one would expect from a game of this genre.
A Familiar Score
One of the more appealing features of the game is that the developers have used the same score as the original game. And when I say the "same score," I really mean it! It sounds like nothing has been done to it at all apart from making it a bit cleaner. But, you know what, that is OK. If it was reworked and new voices added, it wouldn't be the remaster fans would want.
I would say that this is what happens when remakes go right. For what the developers were hoping to do, it has been done extremely well. Sure, there are some things that are a bit rough around the edges or a couple of things which could have been done better, but it is a huge step up graphically from the original.
Will it please the die-hard fans of Outcast? Yes, I think it will. In this day and age, where the word "remake" has bad connotations, it is natural to have some reservations. But the developers have kept true to their previous work and have simply launched the franchise into modern gaming for an all-new generation of fans.
Outcast - Second Contact is out now on PS4, XBox One, and PC via Steam.
(A copy of Outcast - Second Contact was supplied for review purposes.)