Matt Keller
01 May, 2006

The Outfit Review

360 Review | A contender for this year's Worst Dressed List?
So the next generation is finally here, and with new hardware comes a whole plethora of features, technical advancements and so on. More importantly for publishers, the new generation means higher budgets, choosing products more carefully so as to release only what people are guaranteed to buy. Well, that’s what we’d think, but studios like THQ seem to have a lot of money to throw around, which means we’re going to have to deal with another generation of middle-of-the-road games. THQ’s first Xbox 360 exclusive effort is The Outfit which is yet another bloody World War II game. Despite having the potential to offer great free roaming destruction in a war scenario, the only thing The Outfit succeeds at doing is boring the pants off the player.

The Outfit takes place in the European theatre of World War II (unsurprisingly), with the Americans chasing after a particularly nasty German officer, whom they believe to be as dangerous and sadistic as Hitler himself. Charged with the duty of putting an end to this officer’s series of atrocities are three generic wisecracking super soldiers; heavy weapons man Tommy Mac (voiced by Ron Perlman), long-range scout J.D. Tyler and anti-tank soldier Deuce Williams (voiced by Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 fame). Obviously in a game like The Outfit, there’s not meant to be a lot of focus on story, but the plot here is so banal and stereotypical that it’s enough to make you nauseous.

So many options

So many options
Relic has taken a lot of inspiration from other recent war based titles when creating The Outfit. The game is something of a mish-mash of Mercenaries, Battlefield 2 and Battalion Wars in its approach to open field combat. Of those three, most similarities can be seen between The Outfit and Pandemic’s Mercenaries; three different, yet equally stereotypical heroes – check, free roaming battlefields – check, plethora of vehicles to command – check and an on the fly system for ordering vehicles – check. The only problem is that The Outfit doesn’t have the silky smooth controls or exciting gameplay that made Pandemic’s game a hit.

It’s best to take The Outfit’s claims of free-roaming gameplay with a grain of salt in the single player campaign, as the game takes a firm grasp of the player’s hand in the early missions, and never really lets go. This is probably the most bothersome part of the single player game, as you really begin to feel as thought it would be better if you were dumped on a field, given a tough objective, and had to get there solely on your wits and strategy – of course, that’s left for the superior multiplayer section of the game. Many of the objectives introduced early in the game are repeated ad nauseum throughout the experience – defend this, attack that – but the game does occasionally throw a few interesting missions in, such as destroying statues, knocking out searchlights and so on. It would have been better if Relic had the foresight to include more secondary objectives in the game that could be used to benefit your progress, but that would obviously have conflicted on their hell bent attitude towards making the single player game’s objective structure very linear.

The core gameplay in The Outfit is centred on your field units, which is sort of a battlefield currency. You have a selection of troops, vehicles and weapon placements that you can order on the fly from a menu, much like Mercenaries. Field units are earned by disposing of enemy soldiers and achieving various battlefield objectives. The game plays the same regardless of which soldier you choose to control, which is a real disappointment. It feels more like there’s a focus on each soldier’s disadvantages, rather than what he can do. Tommy Mac seems to be the best choice, as his machine gun can handle troops with ease, and ordering a tank can assist in any demolition activity

Oh no, a village of innocent women and children - call the air support!

Oh no, a village of innocent women and children - call the air support!
Perhaps the thing that harms The Outfit the most is the way it plays out. The game’s controls are utter bunk; characters move far too slowly, and the vehicles are far too sluggish to achieve the fast-paced combat that Relic has set out for. Aiming mechanics seem rather broken – Tommy can unload a full clip into a soldier who’s in the middle of his sights, and miss every shot. Splash damage is non existent, despite Relic’s claims of a fully destructible battlefield - a soldier can be standing on top of a grenade and not die. Most of the vehicles handle like incapacitated senior citizens, regardless of whether it’s a tank or a jeep – it’s faster to order the bloody thing in the middle of battle than it is to find the entry point to the vehicle and get inside it.

Each of The Outfit’s 12 single player missions lasts somewhere in the vicinity of 40-60 minutes, so there’s a sizeable amount of game on offer. The multiplayer side of the game seems to have been Relic’s focus during development, and does seem to be a lot more fun than the single player game. There are standard deathmatch and destruction modes, but the more enjoyable option is the Strategic Victory mode, which is basically a carbon copy of Battlefield 2’s regular team based game. Eight players can participate in multiplayer games, which may seem like a small amount, but each player can command another 4 troops, which leads for some relatively tense play. Two players can play through the single player game using System Link, split-screen or Xbox Live, which makes the dreary mode somewhat more palatable.

Deuce disapproves of the Germans' choice of farming machinery

Deuce disapproves of the Germans' choice of farming machinery
Being based on the latest gaming hardware, there’s a certain expectation that The Outfit should deliver some pretty good graphics. That’s not the case though – apart from a few fancy explosions and some special filters that look like they were whacked on at the last second, there’s not much to suggest that The Outfit couldn’t have been produced on current generation hardware. Character designs are hokey and generic; yet another cigar chomping sergeant, Germans with god awful, overly exaggerated accents – your typical lazy war game fare. Models aren’t particularly well designed, and the animation is firmly entrenched in this generation, which does nothing for the game’s next generation pedigree. The environments are massive, but quite dreary. The game can look pretty good when you’re in the middle of an intense firefight, but Relic’s insistence on having canned destruction animations and effects is seriously detrimental to the experience. You can almost feel sorry for The Outfit’s talented voice cast, having to suffer through such a corny script – the talent’s there, but they’ve naught to work with. The game’s soundtrack is a mix of generic army music and rock, which does nothing for the senses.

While one can applaud THQ for releasing a title that’s not based on a Nickelodeon or WWE license, one must at the same time think about what it is they hoped to achieve by releasing such an uninteresting piece of software upon the market, especially considering the increased cost of development for next generation software. The Outfit accomplishes absolutely nothing that couldn’t have been done on current generation consoles, but the thing that really seals the deal is that this sort of game has already been done on the PS2 and Xbox – and better at that.
The Score
Everything The Outfit does has been done better on lesser hardware. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Outfit Content

The Outfit Map Pack now available free
27 Jul, 2006 Now what should we wear?
The Outfit Preview
20 Dec, 2005 Hands-on with Relic's first jump into the console market.
The Matrix: Path Of Neo Review
24 Dec, 2005 Why oh why didn't we take the BLUE pill?
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now

720p Support
Custom Soundtrack
Dolby Digital 5.1
Downloadable Content

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