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Outlive Review

publisher: Take 2 Interactive
developer: Continuum Entertainment
genre: Strategy

P166, 32MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 2MB SVGA Video Card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Mar 19, 01
» All About Outlive on ActionTrip

April 12, 2001
Nikola "Bunny" Zakic

Average time for completing most computer games is about thirty to sixty hours of active playing. To some players this means two or three days of constant peering into the screen, while most of the gamers' population, and especially the type of gamer who tends to practice breathing, eating, sleeping or even communicating with his next of kin, before he finishes the game he started, completes a game of this average length in a week or two. Some games posses great replay value or an excellent multiplayer mode, which can seriously prolong the time we use the game, but sooner or later, the piece of code that someone has been working on for years ends up on a dusty shelf, and gets replaced with another game. Software developers aren't miracle-makers, so you cannot expect them to produce hits all year through. This creates sort of a lull on the gaming market, which gives a break for some less ambitious projects. Well, Outlive is one of those titles, which certainly don't intend to become the game of the year, but it can tide you over until something more interesting appears.

The programmers of the Brazilian-based Continuum Entertainment are probably well-aware that their game is far from setting standards in 2d real-time strategies, so they didn't indulge in too much experimenting, they decided to simply borrow all the most interesting solutions from other, more successful games. Outlive is therefore, a combination of elements you'll find quite familiar, unless you spent the last couple of years completely isolated somewhere, and as soon as you start the game you'll realize that the programmers were strongly influenced by Blizzard's Starcraft.

The story unravels through three campaigns, which continue one another, and give you a chance to see things from all conflicting sides. At the end of the 21st century the population of Earth reached a critical limit, and our mother planet was enable to provide all the necessary resources anymore. Greatest world powers form the World Council, which was supposed to coordinate the project Outlive - a detailed research of the planets in the Solar system, in order to find a planet that would be able to provide sufficient resources for continued existence on Earth. Tritan, a moon of Saturn proved to be the richest, but its rough climate and bad atmosphere conditions make it unsuitable for humans. One group of scientists suggested using genetic engineering to create a creature that would be able to survive in these harsh surroundings and perform excavations. Another group suggested sending robots to do the entire job. World Council gave both sides one year to prove that their solution is better. Things get out of hand when someone sabotages the genetic engineering facilities and the mutants go berserk, and a group of rebels start fighting against the entire project seeing it as threat to the entire human race. You'll have thirty missions to control the World Council forces, then the robots from Mechatronic, and finally the united forces of men and machines against the oppressors.

The story is split into chapters just like in Starcraft. The chapter text will elaborate on what happened, or is about to happen, and the plot further develops through briefings and in-game scripted sequences. There are even several cinematic sequences that support the plot. There are also heroes whose faith unravels together with the plot. The plot has some interesting twists, betrayals and unforeseen events. This gives you enough reason to finish the single player campaigns and see the less than optimistic end, which answers some questions, but arises some other ones. Even though the authors obviously copied the narrating bit, Blizzard did this part of the job far better. The boring briefings cannot be compared with the vivid dialogues between heroes of Starcraft before each mission.

I'll repeat once again that the gameplay utterly resembles Starcraft. The view is 2D isometric. There are not too many units and they are different for each "race". Each unit can perform a special action, which can be activated manually or automatically. They have been designed and balanced in such a way that even when you have the most developed units, you'll still need the most primitive ones. One more thing I should emphasize here is that the unit control method has been improved. Apart from the possibility to define rally points, you can also determine retreat points and the level of damage after which a unit starts to retreat. You can also set waypoints of three kinds (patrol, normal and circular), and units will even be capable of receiving a series of complex orders and perform them successively. Determining the population maximum is another unusual thing in the game. The only resource you'll gather and spend apart from energy is money. You'll use money for buying units, financing technology research and supplying your existing troops. So, if you want to have a numerous and efficient army (if you don't pay them enough the units will move and fire slower), you have to control a sufficient number of mines which generate the money, but as there are not too many of those around you'll seldom be in a position to build up a sufficiently big army that would be able to level the enemy base with no tactics. Careful picking of your targets and guided attacks from the right direction are crucial for success (you can issue orders while the game is in the pause mode). There are no formations, but there is a very useful scatter command, which can save your units' hide when they come in range of enemy troops capable of inducing splash damage. All this can make playing the game quite difficult, especially in later missions.

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6.9   Above Average 

All most interesting features of modern RTS games in one place, good campaign editor, a lot of multiplayer mods;

Poor technical characteristics, good, but poorly presented story.


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