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The Outfit

Platform(s): Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic

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Xbox 360 Preview - 'The Outfit'

by Thomas Wilde on Nov. 15, 2005 @ 12:55 a.m. PST

Choose from three playable squad leader personalities – each with their own skills and abilities and lead two squads of battle-forged soldiers on missions ranging from reconnaissance and rescue to search and destroy. As you complete missions, you'll gain action points that can be used to upgrade your arsenal, acquire tanks and other vehicles, build machinegun nests and anti-tank emplacements or call for air or artillery strikes. Experience the cinematic intensity of WWII combat through 12 epic single-player missions or go online for a variety of multiplayer modes, including co-op.

Genre: Action
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic
Release Date: Q1 2006

And now, once again, we'll be blowing everything up.

Thematically, The Outfit shares certain notable characteristics with THQ's other explosion-happy World War II game, Company of Heroes. You could also be forgiven for thinking it's a sequel to LucasArts' Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction from earlier this year.

The three games all share a deepseated and psychologically revealing love of explosions. In The Outfit, you've got infinite ammunition, access to tanks, and the ability to call down artillery strikes, deforming the ground and detonating buildings as you see fit. If the area around you even remotely resembles Earth by the time you're done, you didn't do it right; it should, by rights, look like the arid surface of the moon.

The Outfit is, of course, a World War II game. As a member of an elite squad comprised of three tough-as-nails operatives, you'll be dropped well behind German lines in late 1944. Your mission -- based upon a real-world botched assassination attempt on Hitler -- is to track down and eliminate a rogue Nazi general who's killing civilians.

On the face of it, The Outfit is an intense WWII third-person shooter, with a focus on squad action. You can send one of the three main members of the Outfit into the thick of the fray at any time, each of whom has a particular area of expertise. JD Tyler is the demolitions expert who's handy with a sniper rifle or shotgun; Tommy Mac prefers to mount a frontal assault, complete with lots of heavy machine-gun fire; and Deuce Williams relies upon overkill as his primary weapon. Each of them have their own special commands they can issue to the redshirts soldiers in their squad and their own specific weapons upgrades.

Any one of these guys would be right at home in a propaganda reel. I'm just sayin'.

As you accomplish your objectives, you'll be able to earn special action points which can be cashed in to use what Relic's calling Destruction on Demand: items and equipment that can be dropped into the action at any time. Need a tank? Call for one. Need a machine-gun nest? It's available. The idea here is that you've been given the tools to make The Outfit whatever kind of action game you want it to be, from an explosives-happy series of detonations to grueling trench warfare to near-surgical strikes against enemy fortifications.

Another advantage you've got is that the scenery around you is not comprised of the typical amazing video-game material. You know what I'm talking about; it's the stuff that lets a nice little country house take a direct hit from an anti-tank weapon without visible damage. No, The Outfit builds its French cottages and German cities out of pure destructible fake game bricks, and you can blow the hell out of them if it becomes an attractive tactical option… or if you decide they are offensive to your eyes.

The Outfit's been shaping up since E3 2005 to be one of the more interesting games in the Xbox 360's arsenal. It's not so much how you play it as it is how you decide to play it; the game shapes itself depending on your tastes as a gamer and how you would proceed in a given tactical situation. It's an interesting look at how action gaming will develop in the years to come, and it'll show up on your 360 in the first quarter of next year.


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