Outlaws (1997 video game)
|Designer(s)||Daron Stinnett, Stephen R. Shaw and Adam Schnitzer|
|Distribution||2X Compact disc|
Outlaws is a first-person shooter released by LucasArts in 1997 using an enhanced version of the Jedi game engine, first seen in Star Wars: Dark Forces. It is one of the very few FPS games with a Wild West setting. CG animation sequences, with special filters to look hand drawn, play between each mission and set up the action in the next area. It is the first video game to feature a sniper zoom. Although not a huge financial success, the game received a cult following.
James Anderson, a retired U.S. Marshal, comes home after a trip to the general store to find his wife Anna dying and his daughter Sarah, kidnapped by two outlaws known as Matt "Dr. Death" Jackson and "Slim" Sam Fulton, under the employ of the evil railroad baron named Bob Graham. Graham has hired several wanted outlaws to "enlighten" the people of the county to sell their land to him, so that he can make money on a huge railway. However, the psychotic Dr. Death misinterprets Graham's meaning of "enlightenment" and kidnaps James Anderson's daughter. After burying his dead wife, the retired Marshal picks up his gun once again and rides off to find his daughter. He travels around the old West, shooting his way through each member of Graham's hired outlaws.
However, on his journey, Anderson is haunted by dreams of his father's murder as a child; while the two were camping out in the wild, an unknown assailant shot him in his sleep, but left young James alive, telling him "to keep that fear [of death], kid". After questioning more and more outlaws, Anderson is confronted by Dr. Death in an old mine. Anderson eventually gets the drop on him; he gets tangled up in a rope above a deep mine shaft. Dr. Death tells him that his daughter is hidden in an old Indian cliff village. After finding out that Anderson is not going to let him out of the pit, he teases Anderson about the murder of his wife. Anderson is enraged and puts his cigar in the pulley from which the rope is hanging, eventually burning up the rope and sending Dr. Death to his death at the bottom of the shaft.
At the Indian village, Anderson is ambushed by renegade Indian Two Feathers. After defeating him, Two Feathers praises Anderson's strength in battle, and out of sympathy because he once had a child he had lost, tells him the real location of Sarah: Bob Graham's estate, Big Rock ranch. Anderson blasts his way into Graham's villa, and finally confronts him. After a fierce gunfight, Graham is believed dead, and falls to the ground, and Anderson reunites with his daughter. However, Bob Graham is not dead, and Anderson carelessly left his gun lying on the floor. The wounded Graham, at gunpoint, reveals that he is Anderson's father's murderer. Just as Graham is about to finish off Anderson, however, Sarah manages to shoot Graham with Anderson's gun. After a tearful reunion, father and daughter ride into the sunset.
In the lower difficulty levels, termed "Good" and "Bad", the player is able to sustain several bullet wounds with no apparent ill effects. In the hardest difficulty level, "Ugly", the player's resistance is reduced to one or two shots. This forces the player into a different style of play. Where on the easier difficulty levels a player might charge into a gunfight heedless of Anderson's personal health, in Ugly mode, the player must use stealth and cover to win.
Aside from the main single-player campaign, Outlaws includes a set of 5 discrete missions that chronicle Anderson's rise to the rank of U.S. Marshal. Each of the missions requires Anderson to either capture or kill a specific outlaw. Ranks (Deputy, Sheriff, and Marshal) are awarded on the accumulation of a set number of points. Points are awarded for recovering stolen gold, capturing/killing the outlaw, and for killing enemies.
Each outlaw that the player captures or kills appears in a jail cell in Anderson's field office. More points are awarded for capturing an outlaw than for killing one, due to the difficulty in capturing one alive. Completion of the Historical Missions is not a requirement for playing the single-player campaign.
In 1998, LucasArts released a set of 4 unconnected single-player missions, called Handful of Missions, for download from the official website. The package includes several new multiplayer missions, and a patch to update the game to version 2.0. The single-player missions take place outside of the original game's storyline.
The player can assume the role of 1 of 6 characters from the main game: Matt "Dr. Death" Jackson, "Bloody" Mary Nash, James Anderson, Chief Two-Feathers, "Gentleman" Bob Graham, and "Spittin'" Jack Sanchez. Each character has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of speed/maneuverability, weapons selection, and resistance. More than 1,500 custom multiplayer maps have been created since Outlaws was released. New maps continued to be released until Late 2012.
In 1997, LucasArts released a patch (update 1.1) to add Glide and Aureal A3D, and another one to add Direct3D compatibility to the game in 2001, complementing the existing software rendering support. Shortly after the initial release a small official expansion pack called Handful of Missions was released for free. It added several singleplayer missions as well as multiplayer maps and updated the game to version 2.0. Outlaws is listed as one of noted game designer John Romero's all time favourite games.
Music for the game was scored by composer Clint Bajakian. An orchestra was used with authentic instruments which was not commonplace at that time. In total, the gaming CDs contained 15 different audio tracks which were suitable for play back on a regular CD player. It is noteworthy that the crystal case of the game's original release had a tracklist printed on its back side as it is the case with most normal audio CDs.
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- "Handful of missions from Lucas Arts". lucasarts.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Dr. Death Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Bloody Mary Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "James Anderson Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Chief Two Feathers Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Bob Graham Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Jack Sanchez Character Info". Paleface.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Outlawdad Maps". theoutlawdad.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Index of Molycoat". webpages.charter.net. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- John Romero - One of the best, most atmospheric and important contributions to the FPS genre - MobyGames
- User Rap Sheet: John Romero - MobyGames
- "SF MusicTech Summit XIV". SF MusicTech Summit. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
- "10 Great Videogame Albums". IGN. September 26, 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
Encompassing classic Ennio Morricone as well as Mariachi and American Indian-themed cues on the side, it's hard to imagine a finer Western score.
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