When I originally saw The Outfit on display at the X05 Toronto event, I didn't know what to make of it. The only thing that we knew about the game from a distance was that it was being produced by THQ, as there was no indication besides a small on-screen display as to what 360 game it could be. This gave birth to the nickname 'Mystery THQ game' when we were assigned titles to cover. Little did our team know that this mystery game would be one of the greatest surprises at the event. Relic, a Vancouver based development team, is currently designing the game, and the build we had a chance to check out was about 60% completed and is looking towards a launch date of sometime in Q1 2006.
The Outfit is a third person shooter that takes place during WWII where you take command of one of three commandos behind enemy lines with a small rag tag group of soldiers. The mission objectives vary to a great degree from hostage rescuing, to controlling all of the flag points on the map. The game in itself is designed as an over-the-top shooter that will have you sometimes just walking around the map blowing things up for the fun of it.
One of the first things to know about The Outfit is that almost everything other than the ground in which you stand is destructible. Every building, park bench, bunker and water tower is possible to tear down with the right type of weapon. Each building is composed of destructible "chunks" that can be blown up even before the building will fall down; however, if you go for the structural points on a building, it is more likely that the building will collapse. We weren't able to play the game hands-on, but when we were shown what an air strike could do to an entire city block, it is hard to be anything but impressed. Different objects require different kinds of weapons in order to take them down. A shoulder mounted rocket launcher packs a punch, but when it comes to taking down buildings, it'll take more than rockets. However, there are plenty of vehicles to choose from that can fit this task.
In each mission you'll be given "destruction on demand" points, which are used to call in airdrops of various kinds and costs. These airdrops are of great value to your mission and are essential in completing the mission objectives. An airdropped tank at the right moment can turn the tide of any fight. Different situations call for different kinds of airdrops, so this requires a little bit of thinking in order to choose which type of unit is right for any given situation. There are over 40 vehicles to choose from as well many kinds of gun emplacements and unit types. There are three different commandos with which you can start a mission; they offer a variety of abilities essential to completing the variety of objectives. Each of these commandos offers a unique array of weaponry. The first uses a rocket launcher, the second a flamethrower, and the third a Sniper Rifle. Each commando comes with a small squad of soldiers that also have special weapons. For example, if you choose the commando with the rocket launcher, there will be one or two other regular soldiers who now carry a rocket launcher as well. Another pleasant and welcomed addition to the game is unlimited ammunition, simply adding to the destructive power. This promotes taking time on each mission to blow everything up, and not to just rush through things.
Combined with a campaign mode, The Outfit just wouldn't be complete without some form of multiplayer. Relic recognized this potential and seems to have really put a lot of effort into the multiplayer aspect of the game. The game will not only support a co-operative mode, but versus as well. Gamers will also be able to play against each other on a variety of maps with different game types such as Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. A new game type that they have included is a Destruction mode, where the objective is to cause as much damage as possible while using as little destruction on demand points as possible. This adds interesting challenges for multiplayer combat.
Through the course of the year, Relic will be having a team that will be dedicated to creating and maintaining the downloadable content. Some examples of downloadable content include maps, skins and weapons. Also, new characters will be available for download, which make the gaming experience that much more intense.
The Outfit is shaping up to be a solid, fast-paced action game that will keep you coming back for more. Whether it's actually for completing missions or simply looking to do a lot of damage, you will probably end up spending many hours with this one upon its release. The Outfit is shaping up to be the big surprise for the Xbox 360, and keep a look out for it to hit shelves sometime early next year.