The Outfit Review

Developer: Relic Publisher: THQ
Release Date: March 14, 2006 Also On: None

Relic and THQ’s first Xbox 360 game, The Outfit, has a simple concept that is stuck between a confused classification: Green vs. Tan, just like the Army Men days, with gameplay that jumps between real-time strategy and all-out action. This genre confusion, as well as other gameplay annoyances and disappointing visuals, make me wish that Relic took a little more time whipping The Outfit into shape, because in too many places, this soldier is way out of line.

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The 12 single-player missions take you on a cartoon-like trip through World War II, playing as three eccentric soldiers who hope to assist the French Resistance against the pressing Nazi forces. None of the characters in the entire game ever captivated me to care about the story, which is told in laughable cut-scenes between each level. The only reason I say the story is laughable is because it’s so over-the-top and opposite of what other games try to capture in a WWII setting. Brothers in Arms and Call of Duty 2 capture the drama and the hardships of war, while The Outfit seems to make a joke of it with clichéd voice-overs and absurd dialogue.

As I mentioned before, the missions themselves are a kick-back to the Army Men days, where the goal is to capture as many different locations as possible while putting your guys against their guys. Do you remember how the Green and Tan soldiers were exactly the same, only a different color? This is basically the same idea here. Both the Allied and Nazi sides have a machine gun nest that can be dropped into action. Both sides have a speedy transport of some kind, armed with a light machine gun. Both sides have a tank that serves as the iron fist of every battle. Even the grunt soldiers are the same with a different uniform.

You might have noticed that I’ve said “drop in� about three times throughout this review, and that’s the novelty of The Outfit. The “Destruction on Demand� system that Relic has used is a flex of their real-time strategy muscle. It allows you to call up a small menu, select a unit that you wish to use in your current position and press a button to have the unit air-dropped into battle. In other words, if you’re itching for a tank to blow up that pesky Nazi rocket wagon, it’s only a button press away. If you need to plant a pillbox in front of one of your strategic points, it’s extremely simple to do so. Using Field Units, or FU’s (interesting acronym), the player can set up entire armies or defense systems with relative ease. To earn FU’s, you simply kill Nazis, blow up their defenses, or complete objectives. It’s simple enough and it’s entertaining to boot.

Unfortunately, controlling The Outfit’s vehicles and shooting weapons in the game is a little difficult thanks to an awkward control style and a confused targeting reticle. Though I’ve never done so in real life, driving a tank can’t really be this difficult. I actually watched helplessly on multiple occasions as my 4X4 Rocket Jeep would cruise right up the side of a cliff and get stuck about half-way up while I was trying to simply drive down the path in front of me. With similar frustration I’d shoot tank shells at pesky infantry units and watch them miss completely, blowing up buildings in the background. This game has, without a doubt, the worst targeting system I’ve ever seen in a video game. I’d clearly point my targeting reticle at a unit, press the fire button, and watch something ten feet to the right of my point explode.

Just as ugly are the visuals, which remind me of a high-resolution Xbox game that still doesn’t look anywhere near as good as Halo 2 or Splinter Cell. The cartoon-like story is accompanied by ridiculous character models that animate like real plastic Army Men. There’s a running animation, which is the same as the strafing animation, which is the same as the shooting animation. I know this because the enemies use all three at the same time and nothing else. They don’t duck and cover, they don’t dive out of the way of incoming vehicles, and they definitely don’t do anything interesting in terms of animation. The explosions look alright, but every other effect in-between is pretty pathetic. Other than holes blown through buildings, the environmental destruction is pathetic, with set animations for fences and walls blowing up, buildings crumbling, and the like. There isn’t a level of “oomph� that I felt this game should have had. The sound effects are also pretty bad, and lack the “oomph� as well. Where Call of Duty 2 had me listening in all directions and then covering my ears in fear of my surroundings, Outfit had me turning on my Xbox 360 custom soundtrack so I had a distraction from dull weapon effects, annoying voice-overs, and bad background music.

While I have to praise The Outfit for its interesting concept and entertaining multiplayer possibilities, I have to criticize it for Xbox visuals, the dumb-as-a-brick storyline and miserable targeting system. If you’re still curious, I guess you wouldn’t be shooting yourself in the foot if you rented The Outfit, but it’s not worth $60 or even $50. If you want a good Nazi-killing experience and you’ve already played through Call of Duty 2 five times, I’m afraid that you’re out of luck until EA drops in this November with Medal of Honor: Airborne or play Call of Duty 2 five more times.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.2
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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