Magma and Universities Don’t Mix
If you remember the incredibly awful first Outpost game, you
should know that Outpost 2 is much improved from its predecessor.
For those who don’t know the plot of Outpost 1, a huge meteor has
been detected heading for Earth and it is impossible to stop it.
There is only one solution available, to leave Earth. A colony
ship is built and boarded by a few hundred colonists who set out
to colonize a new planet after Earth is destroyed.
Outpost 2 picks up
where Outpost 1 left off. A new colony named Eden has been established
on a distant and barely habitable planet. Everything is happy… at first. After
a while, the colony splits into two groups, one that wishes to terraform the
planet (Eden), and another that wants to adapt to its environment (Plymouth).
Things eventually get ugly between the two colonies and they break off communication.
Outpost 2 follows the struggle between Eden and Plymouth colonies.
Outpost 2 is a real-time strategy game. The player can build a
colony, build units, conduct research, and go to war. What makes
Outpost 2 different from most real-time strategy games is that
most emphasis is placed on building your colony instead of
fighting. Rather than building more and better factories for
your units, most construction in Outpost 2 involves residences,
hospitals and universities. I enjoyed the opportunity to spend
more time trying to improve my colony rather than ordering an
army around. That is not to say that combat is absent from
Outpost 2, but just that it has a less prominent role than usual.
The somewhat reduced emphasis
on combat is reflected in the units available. Each side has a few unit types,
which loosely represent light, medium, and heavy tanks. Although there is a
limited number of unit types, it is made up for by the fact that each unit can
be equipped with one of a half dozen types of weapons. Defensive towers are
also available for the more defensively minded player.
Game play reminded me very strongly of the computer game Dune 2.
Both the base layout and mechanics of combat were very similar.
Base layout is very freeform, with the only requirement being
that most structures must be connected to the command center by
tubes. The freedom of base layout also gives the player the
interesting strategic choice of whether or not to build in a
strategically valuable position that happens to be in an area of
lava flow. The game tracks the morale of your colony, which must
be kept high in order to prolong the life spans of your
colonists, and to ensure that enough children are born.
The game also includes a moderately interesting novella on the CD
of the game’s plot line. While it is not necessary to read it in
order to play the game, it you are a science fiction fan, it
might be an interesting read.
Outpost 2 can be very engaging at
times, and has the potential to keep you up burning the midnight
oil. Its “last humans alive” premise in intriguing, but at times
it can become a little dull to deal with all the little things
necessary to keep your colony running. It is fairly complex, and
so I would not recommend it to the beginning strategy player. It
is also not as combat oriented as some other real-time strategy
games out there. So for the bombs and missiles crowd, I would
suggest you look elsewhere. But for the real-time strategy
player who is more interested in building than bombing, Outpost 2
could feel just like your home planet.