The Best Game I Played Today Was Over 10 Years Old

Today, Outcast was released on retro downloadable games service Good Old Games. It's only $US5, so I'm going to recommend it to almost everyone. And not because it's a good game.

No, the thing that struck me after returning to Adelpha was how ahead of its time it was, something you can only notice having left the game on the shelf for over ten years.

You boot it up, and yes, the graphics are a little crude. But only a little. The game was released in 1999, don't forget, so those rough, pixellated edges can be excused. Look past those (and the game's slightly crude character models) and you'll find a world that's, well, beautiful.

What you notice almost instantly, though, even before the graphics sink in, is how modern it plays. It's world feels as open as Oblivion's (well, maybe Fallout 3's). It has a smooth, capable camera system to help you navigate that world, better than anything Rockstar has managed in the intervening years.

The AI of your enemies is often frightening, as they team up, using both sight and, more impressively, sound, to take you down. There are even impressive little gimmicks that I've - sadly - rarely seen since, like your map unit actively scanning the environment in front of you (a green wave passes over the terrain, slowly adding your surrounds to your map) and the game's save system being built around sound; you equip an inventory device to save, and when activated, it beeps, which will alert nearby enemies.

Sticking with aural delights, the game even had a streaming orchestral soundtrack, performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, which - sticking with the theme for the day - blows away most soundtracks you'll find in games today.

Now, this isn't a review. I'm not going to sit here now and break down things I loved and hated about the game. I just thought I'd point out that - ironically for a game based around the premise of travelling to parallel worlds - if you felt like playing a 1999 game that plays like it's from 2009, Outcast is a good one to get.

It just goes to show that to make a "modern" game, you don't always have to sit down and come up with new ideas. You can always find an old game that was ahead of its time - and went on to be largely ignored - and use those instead. Lord knows it's the least this amazing deserves!

Kotaku AU Note: I endorse this message. Outcast is still staggeringly good.


Comments

    Loved it, once very sad when they announced that the sequel had been cancelled.

    Seeing this has made me want to dig out my old copy of it.

    Or maybe i will just buy it from GOG, i've noticed they've also got the fps Blood coming in a day or two. Looks like another one i need to get.

    This is the first I have EVER heard of this "Good Old Games" website, and I cannot wait to get home and buy at least one of those many games...

    I'm thinking Abe's Odyssey. And Beyond Good and Evil And Oh Yeah, I might buy this "Outcast" thing too :P

      You know you can get those on steam right?

      :P

        Oh yeah. And... they're cheaper. Thanks Gumby!

          I think GOG is way beter than steam, virtually no chance of tech issues, best service I've ever seen from a company, no DRM and you actually still own the games if & when the servers get hit by a giant meteor that releases a virus that turns everyone into psychotic plague carrying ape men.

          Steam is pretty cool and all, hard to beat their sales but until I see independantly verified proof of this alleged 'last resort before we go bankrupt' patch that's been mentioned (and likely only applies to valve developed games), I have to be slightly more wary. Also the copy of hitman I bought is utterly unplayable despite all the tips on the net so I'm a bit biased against getting old games on there.

          So I'll just keep buying games from GOG when the option arises and I'll be happily playing them in my ape-proof underground vault (probably on a system powered by a bicycle) whilst everyone who only bought their games from steam will be either bored or psychotic ape men (depends if they've built their own vault).

        Good Old Games is completely DRM free though, if that matters to you.

    I totally second (third?) this. I actually have a boxed, retail copy of this game. It's excellent.

    Give them a little leeway on the opening cutscene (it's a little cheesy - handed off to a 3rd party animation company perhaps?), and the dialogue is really, exceptionally well written.

    Really great gameplay and really beautiful worlds. Good scifi elements too. It's worth playing for the humour alone.

    6US dollars? Total bargain.

    Buy now!

    [Not sure how well it runs on modern OSes like W7. But there are no complaints on the GOG page...]

    Outcast was one of the best games I've ever played... Was devastated when I heard that The Lost Paradise was canned!

    Using voxels was a gamble that didn't pay off at the time of release because of the switch over to GPUs, but it still looks great today.

    Graphics aside - the gameplay, story, music, were top-notch and ahead of its time (in my opinion).

    Showing my support by buying it again from GOG now...

    Totally agree with this recommendation, Outcast is one of my most memorable game experiences of all time!

    Just bought am downloading now. Thanks for the tip and comments

    Man I absolutely loved this game... wonder if I can find my old disc somewhere...

    Imagine the big bad ass unstoppable mother fuckin mario they could produce if they made the game engine in the vise style of mario 64 ... it'd be BIG bad ass .. and tbe best game OF ALL TIME hands fucking down .... jesus christ I'm a prophet and a fucking half ...

    Does anyone know how to get it to run in full screen? Its too old for my monitor :(

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