Two weeks ago, I covered Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, an excellent western FPS. That game got me dying to find more western first person shooters, so I went to one I've been itching to try ever since I started this series. Lucasart's forgotten classic: Outlaws.
The first thing you will notice are the graphics, which are downright amazing for the time. Sure, the 3D models may be a tad rough, but the animations are spectacular. Cutscenes are also animated very well, with expressive characters and colorful landscapes. The only gripe I have is sometimes the cartoony look of weapons clashes too much with the rough 3D models, but that's just me.
Outlaws follows the story of James Anderson, a retired lawman who comes back home to find his wife murdered and his daughter kidnapped. Unlike most shooters of the time, Outlaws has a persistent storyline that is quite engaging, with well animated cutscenes before and after every mission. By the end of the game, I was fully invested in Anderson's tale, and it all wraps up in a satisfying way.Outlaws grabs the western theme and runs with it, with everything from the music to the settings. Levels include towns, a train, a sawmill, and even an old iron mine. Weapons fit the western theme as well, including guns like a revolver, a scoped rifle, and a sawn-off shotgun. All these weapons are basically the same however, as enemies will go down in one or two shots from practically anything. It's all a matter of hitting them.
The Good Old Games package also comes with A Handful of Missions which lets the player explore new areas such as the Civil War, an ice cave, and a villa in Historical Missions. There's also the awesome Marshal Training, which tasks you to hunt down and defeat different outlaws and lowlifes in a variety of areas. If you want to get an extra couple hours out of the game, I highly recommend checking out the aforementioned Historical Missions.Sadly, Outlaws suffers from a similar problem that Redneck Rampage does. Some levels are simply too big for their own good. What that means is that you will spend an awful lot of time wandering through levels looking for keys, far after you've slaughtered most of the enemies. So while the levels might seem well designed at first, you'll be sure to think the opposite once you spend ten minutes aimlessly searching for a brass key. Thankfully, that's only roughly half the levels, the rest are great.
There's also a bit of a difficulty problem, at least on the default 'Bad' mode. While Outlaws does offer you tons of hit points, they get shaved off almost immediately at the first sign of danger. You really have to just creep around levels rather than go in guns blazing if you want to live. This gets really problematic around the bosses, which can murder the player near-instantly with their attacks. Thankfully, there are health items basically everywhere for the player to collect and replenish their health.
Overall, Outlaws is a refreshingly solid package. Maybe it's just because I've been playing nothing but modern shooters for the past few weeks, but some good old fashioned shooting really managed to leave an impression on me. With a wonderful setting and story, beautiful graphics, and solid gunplay, Outlaws is one hidden gem that deserves to be discovered.