By Al Giovetti
After the success of Full Throttle, LucasArts simply had to follow up with some type of sequel, but being LucasArts, they couldn't do the normal obvious sequel, they came up with Outlaws. Outlaws is based upon the 1960s Spaghetti Western morality plays directed by Sergio Leone and is peopled with Clint Eastwood type heros. The best thing about these new games is that they will not be dubbed in English over the original Italian and perhaps the worst thing is that the crew does not have to go to Spain or Italy to film them.
Daron Stinnett, the Project Leader for the game, was the project leader for Dark Forces. Daron has worked for Sierra Online, Epyx, Electronic Arts, and Taito over the last 17 years. In 1990, Daron worked on Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon 3.0 as the group manager. With this kind of background it is not surprising that Outlaws is such a good game.
Company LineThe camera pans a vast, rocky desert with a glaring sun, which serves as a backdrop for the main character -- a dark, solitary man with a scowl on his leathery face. He spits a stream of tobacco as he crouches behind a striated red rock butte and takes careful aim with his rifle at four outlaws on thundering horses...
A scene from a 60s Spaghetti Western? Yes, but it's also available for the PC this winter. In LucasArts Entertainment Company's Outlaws, you are the embodiment of the loner who rides into town seeking vengeance and uncovers the twisted plot of a powerful railroad baron and his outlaw thugs. Outlaws is a hybrid of strategic action-adventure and network play in an environment so immersive and intense, you can smell the gunpowder of a Colt .45 and hear the tinkling keys of a saloon piano. The game will be available for Windows 95 CD-ROM this Winter.
According to project leader Daron Stinnett, "Outlaws is a true action-adventure title. By using both the 3D engine from Dark Forces and the INSANE engine from Rebel Assault II, the game will be the first to deliver all of the components of classic 60s Westerns in an interactive format." Daron also was the project leader for Dark Forces, a top seller in 1995 that continues to be extremely popular.
Outlaws is one of the first LucasArts games to feature multiplayer support, a feature for which gamers clamored following the release of Dark Forces. The multiplayer mode allows each player to choose from six of the 12 outlaws in the game, each with his or her own unique fighting characteristics. In all, Outlaws has three complete game variations to give players rich replay value -- a cinematic adventure game, a bounty-hunter action game and a thrilling, multiplayer game -- all from a first person perspective.
Says co-designer and lead programmer Stephen Shaw, "I've always wanted to do a Western game. I'm a big fan of director Sergio Leone, and when I heard that Daron was similarly inspired after watching The Good , the Bad and the Ugly one night, we connected." Stephen drew on traditional elements from classic Greek mythology to spin a tale that encompasses revenge, a quest and the personification of evil; a story where the hero's journey takes him into the abyss where he faces temptation and corruption, but finds redemption in the end.
The game is designed to transcend the traditional first person shoot `em up. In the adventure game component you are ex-marshal James Anderson, once the most feared lawman in the West. When your sheltered life is shattered by desperadoes, you embark on a quest that leads you to the deadliest killers this side of the Mississippi.
The graphics are traditionally hand drawn animation with a keen attention to detail. Lantern-induced shadows dance across the room as a man is battered by a sadistic thug. You feel the presence of hostile eyes watching as you stride through a dusty ghost town and a clock strikes high noon. Backgrounds reflect the muted, earth shades of old Western films and feature gorgeous landscapes and weathered building interiors and exteriors.
The characters in Outlaws are painstakingly rendered so that their distinct personalities are instantly recognizable. "Gentleman" Bob Graham, the chief bad guy, is a fancy dressed, squinty-eyed cool character. Matt "Dr. Death" Jackson is dressed like a dentist, with a ruthless, cold-blooded glare. "Slim" Sam Fulton has a tall, boyish look with a half-wit smile. "Bloody" Mary Nash is a cigar-chomping floozy.
The game will be based upon the Dark Forces three dimensional (3D) Doom-like engine and Rebel Assault's INSANE game engines., and will weave the 3D multiplayer portions of the game with action packed and emotional animated cut scenes that will rival the best Disney animated feature film. The animation style resembles that of Full Throttle but LucasArts claims it was drawn from a the style of the Aeon Flux animated cartoon. "Characters move with almost an insect-like intensity - first slow and deliberate, then with lightning-like speed", explained lead designer Charlie Ramos. Like Full Throttle, this is a game event that no one will want to miss.
"Outlaws makes you think about how to take guys out," says Stephen Shaw. "The whole point is to get away from the Doom style of play." Many people would agree that while Dark Forces was one of the best of the Doom clones, it was still a Doom-clone, with little interactivity just point and shoot, while thinking on your feet. The game will encourage you to shoot the outlaws in the back and bushwack them with a rifle equipped with a sniper scope, or you will not survive the game. This is something that many will not feel consistant with playing the good guy.
One of the reasons you will have to back shoot and bushwack is the new artificial intelligence (AI) is smarther than in Dark Forces. The Outlaws will hide, sneak up on you and will shoot you in the back. These enemies are very smart.
The plot is right out of the Spaghetti western, and centered around vengeance from a lone rider who lets the single Colt .45 revolver strapped to his leg and his fists do his talking for him. The hero, ex-marshal James Anderson, once the most feared lawman of the west, finds tragedy at the hands of a gang of deadly killers, who he later pursues to enact his revenge. The outlaws have killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter. Along the way Anderson meets "Bloody" Mary Nash, "Dynamite" Dick Clifton, "Gentleman" Bob Graham, "Slim" Sam Fulton, and Matt "Dr. Death: Jackson, each with their own distinctive and sinister personality.
WeaponsWeapons will include a rifle with a sniper scope, a carbine, a shotgun, and a gattling gun. Ammunition will be limited to simulate what it was really like in the west.
Graphics were hand drawn in the time honored tradition used in animated feature films.
AnimationThe animation is particularly nice when the hand drawn animated figures are put together for the final cut scenes. The characters move with a distintly different look and feel than other games.
Voice ActorsThe voice actors have done an especially good job getting the feel for the ambiant noises of jeers and cat calls, as well as the scripted portions of the animated cut scenes.
Music ScoreThe music score is a collection of spaghetti western tunes. The music really gets you in the mood and makes this game. Wonderful music that immediately transports you back to the original spaghetti westerns the game is based upon.
Sound EffectsI especially like the retort of the weapons, which is loud and sounds like a gun. The first time I heard the guns, I jumped out of my seat. Ambient noises in the game are nice, and help you to locate the bad guys when three dimensional sound is used.
Multi-player FeaturesDesigned with multiple players and network support in mind. Deathmatches are intended to fuel battles between snipers and guts and glory types. Battlefields will be elaborate and tricky making the biggest gun hunt pale by comparison to strategy and postition. Other game types supported a capture the flag using opposing forts as bases, and Secret Document where a character carrying the document must safely traverse a no man's land while others seek to assassinate.
One downside to the Lucasarts philosopy of multiplayer gaming is the lack of a dedicated server. Dedicated servers are seen in Quake and Doom and result in faster game play without lag times or warping. Lucasarts' Outlaws has one of the players computer take over all the multiplayer commands, giving that one player an advantage and causing unnecessary warping and lags.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughOutlaws Cheat Codes
Outlaws Hints and Hint Book from Prima
ReferencesJeff James, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 48 - 51 Barbara Gleason, The Adventurer, number 12, summer, 1996, pg. 3-4.
Daniel Morris, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 3, March, 1997, pg. 43 - 44.
Eric Eckstein, Game Pen, 90%.
Outlaws Jump Start Page
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