Outwars is a science fiction third-person shooter developed by SingleTrac and published by Microsoft in 1998.
The player controls a heavily-armed "dreadnought" marine, and must battle insectoid aliens (occasionally referred to as "The Skulls") intent on taking over the galaxy. Gameplay is mission-based, and the player may customize his suit of powered armour with different weapons and equipment at the beginning of each mission. The player may also issue orders to a small team of computer-controlled squadmates. The plot travels to many different planets and settings.
The game features a multiplayer mode, allowing teams of players to compete against each other.
A rather unusual feature of Outwars is that the legs and the torso can be controlled separately. This extra function can however be disabled by reconfiguring the controls. Furthermore, as in many shooters, the player can switch between a variety of weapons. Outwars accomplishes this feature in a departure from the norm; it is possible to map each of the weapons available to the player to individual keys on the keyboard or joystick. This enables players to fire weapons concurrently rather than consecutively as in a traditional shooter.
The savage gore (a rarity for MS-published games) and the unique jetpack/on-foot cores to the game made this replayable by many players.
The story begins at Mikhal's World, which is under attack by "The Skulls". It has become overrun, and the humans are ordering an emergency evacuation. The player has 02:00 minutes to reach his ship or he is left behind. After this, the player is dropped onto Planet Oasis, where he goes in to training. But while target training is underway, "The Skulls" attack, forcing an immediate evac from the area. War has broken out all over Oasis, with the humans losing badly. The players team are sent to grab all supplies from Oasis (In a return to the jump training mission) and prepare the jumpship for evac. Eventually, a total evacuation is ordered on Oasis, but the player is denied leave until he retrieves 'special technology' from the now abandoned military base on Oasis. Right after the player escapes, Oasis is annihilated by some form of alien technology, and in Hackett's words, "Have turned it into some kind of planet from hell". The humans plan a last ditch attempt to destroy 'The Skulls', but their first priority is to secure Planet Anubis, where the miners have discovered something in the mine shafts. No survivors are found, but the player is sent to destroy the mine shafts and whatever may be in there. The player soon discovers that 'The Skulls' were living underground, but sick and tired of constant threat by the miners, they set out to eradicate all humans from existence. But while moving through the mine shafts, the player falls deep into the Skulls lair. The player meets his first 'Queen' in this level, and after defeating it, the CDF find a way out for the player, and he is immediately evacuated. They prepare to send the players team onto the enemy's current stronghold, the Juggernaut, but are ambushed along the way. The Ulysses is shot down, killing Commander Hackett in the process, and the player is dropped by accident onto Ragnarok. After meeting up with another survivor, the player is forced to take down the enemy's air gun that is keeping the CDF from rescuing the player and his current teammate. After it is destroyed, the player is sent to investigate the Ulysses and retrieve the command data (It is in this level Hackett is confirmed dead), and afterwards, assist the troops in a war at the ravine. It is decided that the Ulysses is too dangerous to be left standing, so the player is sent back to destroy it. Afterwards, the player leaves Ragnarok, and resumes the mission of destroying the Juggernaut. They first capture the Mastermind to find out the codes for the security locks on the Juggernaut, and after killing the second queen, the player rushes off the Juggernaut before it explodes. They unfortunately find out, however, that Oasis (Now known as DeadWorld) has been established as 'The Skulls' main base of operations, and they are set to beat the humans once and for all by eradicating their home - Earth. A last ditch attempt is thrown to disable their primary attack and turn it against them, ending the Skulls threat once and for all. The player manages to get inside the gun, and is given a limited amount of time before it fires. While disabling the gun, the player meets the boss of the game - The King, the largest monster in the game (approx. 4 times the height of the player). After defeating it, it turns out that he was the main control for the gun, and without him, the Skulls are doomed. The player reactivated the gun, but shoots himself out, seconds before the planet destroys itself. The player is then given one last message before the logo and credits:
"Stay there, Captain. We're coming to get you."
- If the player does not escape Mikhal's world in time, the planet blows up, but the dropship does not appear, indicating he didn't make it.
- On Oasis, there is a mission where the player is told to blow the base reactors up. If he doesn't make it, the screen brightens extremely, and the player instantly collapses and disintegrates (Of all the scenes, this is not a cutscene, it is gameplay).
- If the player does not escape the Juggernaut before it blows up, like the Mikhal's World scene, there is no dropship shown when it blows up.
- If the player is killed by the King, or he runs out of time on the Final Mission on DeadWorld, a long cutscene is shown where the DeadWorld gun fires, and produces similar results as with Oasis/DeadWorld.
"He didn't make it... Blast." -Commander Winters
CDF (Colonial Defense Command)
Though he is never named, he does speak, and is of course the protagonist of the game. He commands a small three-man team on the battlefield, constantly being at the forefront of danger for the war against 'The Skullz'. he is determined and ready.
"We came, We saw, WE CONQUERED."
"Score one for the good guys!"
For the first half of the game, he directs the Captain and his team towards victory. He is impatient, but knows that the only way to win is to be smart. he is killed when his ship, the Ulysses is shot down onto Ragnarok, killing everyone still onboard (Most are evacuated while the ship is under attack).
Winters steps in after Hackett is killed as his replacement. She never properly addresses the situation regarding her quick promotion, but no-one questions her or that fact in such desperate times.
In his dossier (removed in later versions of the game) he is described as a 'war hero', but it is unknown if that refers to the war against the Skulls. He is never met in-game, and his dossier has no photo, but he does have the game's first planet names after him, possibly as a memorial or honor.
He has a very brief role in the game, but as he is unique, and that he is the Skulls main intelligence and recon director, he is highly regarded and protected by his brethren. Like most main Skulls, he cannot attack.
The Queen Of Anubis
The ruler of the underground lair on Planet Anubis, she appears to be a large beating heart, that is unable to deliver any direct attacks, but can spawn more Skulls to protect her.
"I don't know what that is or where it came from, your orders are clear, Captain. Blow it to pieces!" - Commander Hackett
The Queen Of The Juggernaut
She is supposedly the true queen, as she resides in her mothership, the Juggernaut. She is more easily killed that her double in Anubis, but she is better protected to balance it out. She has all the abilities of the first Queen, and more, such as the ability to defend herself.
"Well, don't just stand there, get her while she's vulnerable!" -Commander Winters
He is never met or mentioned until the very end, when the player discovers the controls for the DeadWorld gun are 'moving'. He is four times the height of the player, and almost just as wide. He appears to naturally generate a EMP field, as the player cannot fire anything but his Pulse Rifle when close to it, and Winters is cut off mid-sentence when she sees it through the suit cam. The game ends if it steps on the player.
"Captain there's something moving towards you, something big... It appears to be the controls, But why does it... (King appears on screen) OH... MY... GOD... (Static)" - Commander Winters
Outwars enjoyed a strong community on MSN Games MSN Games
from around the summer of 1998 to the year 2000. There was a private beta test, and the players from this test went on to form the base of the community. Fewer players were regularly seen online after that, and gradually the community disintegrated. Some moved on to other games, notably Starsiege: Tribes and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. Others held on and maintained contact despite the Outwars matchmaking lobby being removed from the Zone. Many were saddened at the loss of these lobbies, attempting to uphold player strength through more general multi-game lobbies, but players had to move on. Like many other online games, players formed clans and participated in tournaments and other such events. In one instance, the winners of a Zone-sponsored tournament won the chance to play against a team of the game's developers. Players from the Roughneck clan (using a prefix of RN_) slayed the SingleTrac team. As of June 19, 2006 MSN Games no longer offers matchmaking for CD-ROM games.
Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in Outwars. International Game Zones is a project aimed at replacing the matchmaking functionality of the MSN game zone. Former Outwars players successfully petitioned IGZ to add an Outwars lobby. Soon after, a new Outwars domain was registered: outwarsforever.com The forum has been seeing a good deal of traffic.
Several generations of clans were formed and passed. Notable clans include, and are not limited to: ARM (Apocalyptic Rite of Mayhem), CAT (Complete Annihilation Team), DEA (Death Dealers), DFA (Death From Above), FF (Freedom Fightors), JDI (Jedi-Dreadnaught Incinerators), KlandaatU, JHD (Jyhad), RN (Roughnecks), STM, TCA (The Clan Apocalypse), TnT, Merlin, NoN, VeX, XXX, GA (Guardian Angels), JuSt, MW, MK, MoF, MAD, KC (killaclan), CC, DAS, ToD (Touch of Death) and KC (Killa Clan).
Notes and References