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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Videogamey: Outland for PS3 Review

Outland by Housemarque

Hey gang! If your an old school gamer like me, you probably remember the good old days of the platformer. Donkey Kong, Miner 2049er, Lode Runner, Super Mario Bros. , Castlevania, and Sonic the Hedgehog come to mind with their endless running, jumping, and climbing up ladders, ramps, elevators, and of course platforms.

These were my favorite kind of games as a kid growing up in the 80's (continuing on through adulthood) - I couldn't get enough of the colorful environments, blippy sounds, and unique avatars. This is what classic gaming was all about to me which is why I have such a fondness for Outland by Housemarque (Dead Nation, Super Stardust HD) on the Playstation Network.

Click Below To Continue...

The Lowdown
Published right after the infamous PS3 Network hacking scandle, Outland is one of the first downloadable titles I've picked up that I can honestly say I would have purchased as a Bluray title, but was worth the wait as a PSN title (note, also available for Xbox 360).

For only a mere $9.99 you can unlock the full downloadable and get into the meat of what this title has to offer.

Outland Trailer by Housemarque
(presented by Machinima)

In this platformer, you play a non-descript silhouette of a nobodywho's haunted by visions of a vast wheel endlessly turning. Maddened by the hallucinations, you seek out a shaman who guides you on a path of spiritual awakening and an uncomfortable truth: You’ve been chosen to fight in a timeless, cyclical battle with a pair of god-like Sisters who created the world and now seek to destroy it.

“The Sisters are the final bosses in the game,” Producer Adam Sarasohn confirms. “They are the ones causing this conflict.” You’ll learn this firsthand in the opening moments of the game when you dive into a playable vision set 30,000 years in the past. Re-living the conflict as an ancient hero, your spiritual predecessor, this short flashback sets up the final struggle against the Sisters but cuts away just as the ominous battle begins..

The games stunning visuals resemble a mixed tone of Chinese shadow puppet and african tribal paintings that's only further enhanced by its etheral jungle beats and asian woodwinds that echo in background. Outland becomes a beautiful artistic experience that blends the action of acrobatics and sword play into a spirtual experience, not easly found in most modern games today.

Along with your avatar being able to run, jump, climb, bounce off walls and defend himself with his sword, he can also utilize the powers of light (represented by blue) and dark (represented by red) to defend himself from all manner of enemy on his journey merely by flicking the R1 shoulder button at any time.

Turning blue (light) will protect you from light emitting energy beams, spheres, and spikes while allowing you to kill anything represented in red (darkness) and vice-versa (blue vs. red, red vs. blue). It can also activate all manner of platforms, both stationary and active along with creating and destroying barriers in your path that can both protect and hinder your way at the same time.

More like a platforming-puzzle game, Outland provides a deep experience that allows a lot of replayability as players constantly move back and forth from within the world to get to new areas using newly discovered abilities that they might not have had in previous parts of the game.

Skills such as sliding, launching, power beams, and breaking through walls are just a few of the neat new tricks you can learn through completing various journey's or destroying boss monsters throughout the game.

The boss monsters themselves are MASSIVE (think Shadow of the Colossus by Team Ico) and do take some time to beat, but the game never punishes you too badly when death occurs. You merely start back at the begining of the battle, but now you fight it knowing the little tricks it takes to get further along in battle until the beasties are done for.

Outland / Co-Op Gameplay Trailer by Housemarque
(presented by XBox View TV)

Co-op missions are easy to find and pair you up in exclusive co-op challenges online. This was a really nice perk to give players as this title could have been a single player game easily, but Housemarque went the full nine yards and gave players a treat by allowing you to play Outland play with story co-op or co-op challenge rooms. Co-op is limited to the internet because the developers wanted everyone to get the full screen treatment when playing the game (and with it's amazing visuals, I can't blame them!).

The Final WORD
This game is a HUGE win for Housemarque and fans of the platforming genre. If there is one wish I have for either future DLC or sequels to Outland, it would be to allow for more user-generated content as this game screams for this kind of addition to allow for even longer and more fun-filled game time. That very minor note aside, Outland has become one of my favorite games of 2011 for the Playstation Network.

VideoGamey Rating:
Presentation: Super quick load times make the world of Outland appear fairly seemless. The menus are simple and concise and get you into the game quickly.

Graphics: A beautiful visual blend of Chinese shadown puppetry and African tribal art, Outland doesn't disappoint. Jungles, winter mountain tops, ancient cities, and more - there's never a dull moment throughout your journey and you want to keep going in order to see the sights!

Sound: Sound effects are completely believable with every vase and statue shattered, every slash of the blade felt, and every clang of armor against metal vibrating. The music is worth the price alone with dreamlike tribal drums and ethereal asian woodwinds to keep the action rolling with excitement whether battling soldiers, beasties, or bosses alike.

Gameplay: What's not to love! The single player campaigne keeps you coming back for more in order to gain more skills to further your journey, the co-op options are a fantastic and appreciated touch, but the lack of user-generated content is missed, but not a deal breaker. Maybe in a future version if we're lucky!

Final Impressions: For a mere $9.99, this piece of visual and auditory art is not only a viceral experience for the senses, but also for the soul. Housemarque does it again with unrivaled skill. A must for PSN and XBox users.

VideoGamey Rating: 9+

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