Relic
THQ
Action/Strategy
1-2 (2-8)
03.14.06

The Outfit (Xbox 360)


I wasn't completely overwhelmed when I first saw screenshots and gameplay videos of The Outfit. However, as soon as I got online with this game, I was immediately all about it. The Outfit is like an arcade style version of Battlefield, except a lot more fun than Battlefield. The only reason I say Battlefield is because in The Outfit (providing your playing the right mode), you also wait around an area and capture it with your flag. The game is based off of WWII, and turns out to be one of the best Xbox 360 games to hit store shelves in 2006. The Outfit is a game that combines the action of a shooter, with the skills of a strategy game.

Gameplay

This game is all about multiplayer. As you enter a level as either the Americans or Germans, you have the option to choose 1 of 3 characters. Captain Deuce Williams, Sergeant Thomas "Mac" Macintyre, and Lieutenant John Davis Tyler are on the Allied side. On the Axis (Germans), there's General Hans Von Beck, General Viktor Morder, and Nina Diederich. Both sides each have their own unique weapons ranging from machine guns to flamethrowers, and each character has 2 selectable weapons. The main weapons are a machine gun, rocket launcher (anti-tank pistol for the Germans), and a rifle. You also have grenades/sticky bombs. And each time you die, you can choose a different one at the time of re-spawn.

You start off with your main character, and a squad of 4 AI-controlled generic characters. There are also squad commands to give to your team. As you lose them in battle, you can always call for more right on the fly using the "Destruction on Demand" feature, which I'll get into more later. Online, you can have up to 4 sets of teams on each side (4 on 4). If you are playing the most popular mode of play, Strategic Victory, there are usually 3 main areas on each level that you can take over. Some maps vary, and do not have all 3, while some have more then one of each. The 3 main areas are the Motor Pool (tanks), Armory (gun nests), and the Radio Tower. The way you take areas over is by just waiting there for your flag to come up. There's also other areas that are just a base and a flag, but still important to use as spawn areas. There's always an area to capture, or hold down. The game works on a points system. Each team starts out with a set amount of points, and when it ticks down to zero or all Strategic Points are taken, the other team loses. The more areas you have captured, the better off your team will be in the end. The main idea is that you want to keep as much command points as possible. Besides Strategic Victory, the other modes of play are Deathmatch and Destruction, but Strategic Victory is probably the best mode.

During the heated battles, if the option to use Field Unit crates is set to on, then crates will drop down from the sky, and they will help obtain enough funds to buy more weapons, or anything on the DoD menu. As you capture an area, it is a good idea to defend them. One of the best parts about this game that make it intense is that you will be making some real-time strategy decisions. Do you save some more field units for a bigger tank or bigger machine gun? Or do I set up a few smaller machine guns for right now?

I explained the gameplay basics, now onto the nitty gritty on how you can accomplish these conquests. So you are at your base (or anywhere), and you want to take over another area. You also have to worry about defending each of your points. You can set up all types of weapons and anti-tank guns right on the fly. This is where the "Destruction on Demand" feature comes into play. Pressing the Y button will bring up all the good stuff. The artillery & air strikes, tanks, machine guns, jeeps, tanks, you name it, are all at this menu. Once you select something, you can buy it (providing you have enough FUs). Once you buy it, you then place a marker of where you want your new weapon or vehicle. You can also aim which way you want it to face. Then a few seconds later, a plane will fly by, and everything parachutes down in real time. And this is amazing, because everything is real time. The planes, the parachutes, everything are all visible during the action. To keep up the realism, the planes can even get shot down! Once a gun nest arrives, a solider that was coming down with that particular gun will jump right on it, and start firing away. You are going to want to aim the machine gun nests, and anti-tank cannons towards the enemy, but also in strategic places that will surprise the enemy. There is all this action going on at once and you are never just standing around.

One of the features in The Outfit is that you are also able to hi-jack enemy vehicles while they are inside of a truck, tank, etc. Trying to steal one isn't always easy, you have to be matched up almost perfectly to the vehicle. Everyone once in a while, it can be a little frustrating. On certain levels, you can also hop on trains. Some of them have loaded weapons on them that you can use. If you have control over the communications tower, you can even wire tap the other team and here what they are saying. Driving vehicles can be a little shaky at first. Learning how to drive and shoot took me a good amount of time to get used to, and I still haven't mastered it yet. This is one area that the game could have used some improvement. The rest of the controls (like controlling your character on foot), are good though.

Relic did a great job with the camera angle. It's a third-person action game, and your character is not always directly centered on the screen because of the different terrain, and just moving left or right. This is a good thing because it keeps the feel of the action going. I'm not too fond of all of the levels, but the design of the majority of them is impressive.

If you are sick of playing alone, you can also play a split-screen multiplayer match online, or offline. The single player experience does have a nice little story line to it, but doesn't offer the same gameplay as online multiplayer does. You are basically trying to find the German leader Von Beck. The campaign missions can be played online in co-op as well. So if you are bored playing the campaign by yourself, you can literally play it with someone online and start the level that you were at, and it will save it. So you can go back and play the next mission on your own, or with someone online again. As I said before, the single player isn't as fun as online, but it still offers an action packed gameplay experience nonetheless.

Like all Xbox 360 games, there are the lovely achievements that can be unlocked. There's achievements both online and offline, and most of them are worth it since they actually unlock new weapons to use.

Graphics

The visuals in The Outfit are definitely using some of the Xbox 360's power, and they do look gorgeous. With that said, the graphics are clean, and everything, but I think they could have been slightly better. But everything is completely destructible, and that includes, buildings, trees, walls, and just about anything else on the map. So that makes up for it right there. In single player, the real-time cut scenes are very nice. Smooth and fast gameplay, with no slowdown keeps the action moving. The main characters look sweet, and have the most detail out of the generic allied soldiers. All the explosions are genuine, and the character animations are detailed and look as expected.

Sound

Sometimes you will here your teammates scream out "enemy on the horizon", and that helps make the game feel like a real war. However, there isn't too much talk during the battle unless you are playing online with a team of people. All the sounds of the game are done well. Airplanes flying by, explosions all over the place, and of course gun fire are all true sounding. The sound of rockets blazing by is my favorite sound effect. The music during the loading screens in between the missions gets me all hyped ready to kick some ass online! Heavy metal riffs mixed in with mellow rhythm is what I like.

Replay Value

This is my favorite Xbox Live game on the 360. The multiplayer experience is amazing, and the entire design of the game is highly addictive. It's just one of those games that I can say the 360 is all worth it. Everything you do changes how the game/war is being played, and that's what makes it so great. You have so many options to drop down extra firepower, and use drivable vehicles, that the possibilities of "what should I do next" are endless. As I mentioned before, you have to decide on what to areas to take over first, what guns to use, and how you're going to do it. Do you want to drive into enemy fire with a cheap little 4 x 4 jeep with a machine gun, or do you want a nice big tank? Aside from all that, the downloadable content (new maps and picture packs) guarantee the replay value of this title.

Bottom Line:

This game has great character, literally. The 3 main characters add a lot to the feel of the game, and I actually was looking forward to the cut-scenes in between missions. 95% of each level can be blown up or flattened, which opens up the game a lot.

If you never believed me before, believe me now when I say this: Buy this game! At least download the demo on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and try it out. If you don't have Xbox Live, get it for this game. It's something different, and only available on Xbox 360 (at least for right now). You owe your 360 this.

Related Links:

Official Website for The Outfit

-Steve Melanson




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