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LucasArts' Outlaws

Really wild, Wild West Adventure

LucasArts has taken the first person shoot 'em up game out of its normal sci-fi setting and put it back in history - to the days of the American Old West. And they've done it spectacularly!

Okay, Outlaws may not have the most technologically-advanced game engine; it uses the same one as in "Dark Forces," but that's definitely no slouch, either. And it serves this game more than adequately - it's simply the best of the 3D, first person action games we've played.

Outlaws casts you as ex-Marshall James Anderson, whose wife is killed and daughter kidnapped by the requisite bad guys. Your quest is to find and rescue your little girl, and of course you have to blast all the bad guys who stand in your way.

ex-marshall James Anderson - a.k.a. YOUThis game is beautifully done, with animated cutscenes worthy of a Hollywood feature. The scenes are detailed and atmospheric; LucasArts has done a terrific job. The opening scene, where Anderson/you go into town to buy supplies, only to return home to find your wife dead and daughter missing, tugs at the ol' heartstrings and properly motivates you to hunt down those hombres and show 'em it ain't wise to mess with ex-Marshall Anderson.

The game itself is pretty straightforward as such first person adventures go, though the graphics are excellent and a particular compliment must be given to the soundtrack. Not only are the effects and voices (including incessant taunting from the bad guys as you hunt them down) extremely well done, but the original music soundtrack is first rate. Composed by Clint Bajakian, it sets the mood perfectly and the digital recording is first rate. We found it a touch loud at times, almost drowning out the other sounds, but this can be corrected in the options menu.

LucasArts must have known they'd contracted a real tour de force with its soundtrack, because they included the various themes on the CD-ROMS so you can take the game discs and play them in your audio CD player. A nice touch!

And LucasArts hired some quality actors to play the roles in Outlaws, including John de Lancie (the inimitable "Q" from Star Trek - the next generation) and "Night Court's" Richard Moll.

On your quest to find young Anna, you'll visit many different settings, including a moving train, a complex system of mine shafts, and a watery sawmill. There's also the odd secret area - and you'll need some creative thinking to find some of the bad guys (that hanging bale of hay can't be left hanging if you want to fight your way out of the barn on one level).

We played the game with the gore setting turned on, but don't expect Sam Peckinpah to rise from the grave; the gore is comic book at worst and shouldn't cause any impressionable minds to become any more warped than they are already. Weapons range from your bare hands to Colt .45, sawed-off shotgun, throwing knife, and even dynamite (and you won't want to toss a stick of that in an enclosed area!).

There's also a multiplayer mode that lets you choose to be one of the bad guys, and you can also play as a bounty hunter.

LucasArts has definitely done it again, and "Outlaws" is a real winner. This is definitely the most fun we've had with a game in quite a while. It takes all the best features of the 3D, first person game and puts them in a convincing old West setting that lets you play cowboy just like you did as a kid.

Yee haw!


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January 31, 2006