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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Housemarque
Release Date: June 14, 2011

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'Outland' (ALL) To Feature Two Co-Op Modes - Screens

by Rainier on March 17, 2011 @ 10:13 p.m. PDT

Outland puts players in the middle of a world of balance and chaos where their efforts allow them to bridge the ancient divide, or doom the world to destruction.

Each player’s adventure will take them between light and darkness and force them to adapt to an ever-changing world. This light versus dark core gameplay is inspired by the arcade classic Ikaruga.

Immersed in a beautiful world doomed by chaos, players will test their swordplay by running, jumping and climbing to dodge the deadly traps of a world on the brink of collapse. Outland will feature unique high-definition graphics and an immersive soundtrack composed by Ari Pulkkinen, acknowledged for his work on the award-winning Trine project.

A gorgeously illustrated introductory cinematic introduces you to the protagonist, a nameless, faceless modern-day city dweller haunted by visions of a vast wheel, endlessly turning. Maddened by the visions and unable to find relief, the protagonist seeks out a mystic shaman who guides him on a path of spiritual awakening and alerts him to a timeless, cyclical battle with a pair of god-like Sisters who created the world and now seek to destroy it. Guess what? The fate of the world is in your hands. Lucky you!

Overall, Outland’s single-player experience will be familiar to fans of action-platform games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You start out with a limited skill set and gradually gain abilities and more powerful swords as you conquer enemies, uncover ancient artifacts and traverse previously inaccessible locations. But in addition to the sword-swinging combat, Outland’s gameplay features a twist. A quick tap of the trigger buttons shifts you between blue and red (light and dark) energy alignments. If you shift to the blue form, you’ll harmlessly absorb blue projectiles but remain vulnerable to red projectiles, and vice-versa. Outland’s most challenging moments tend to pack the screen with a dizzying number of red-and-blue projectile patterns, forcing you to rapidly shift alignments to survive. This is easier said than done, as many platforms are color-coded as well and require tricky timing to land.

In addition to the single-player campaign, Outland includes an Arcade mode that will challenge expert players to speed-run through scenarios with the highest score possible. At PAX East, Housemarque revealed that Outland includes robust two-player co-op play in two distinct flavors: Story Co-op and Co-op Challenge rooms. When playing the Story mode with a co-op partner, you’ll occasionally uncover portals that unlock Co-Op Challenges. These challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. In the Co-op Challenge rooms, the developers mess with the existing gameplay rules of Outland. In normal co-op Story play, it doesn’t matter what your partner does — either player can switch between light and dark alignment as needed. That rule is turned on its head in one Co-op Challenge in which one player controls alignment switching of both players — a tall order when the air is thick with red-and-blue projectiles and you’re forced to watch your partner’s back. Then, in a sadistic twist halfway through this particular Co-op Challenge, the other player assumes control of alignment swapping.

Outland’s co-op modes are limited to online play because the developers we wanted each player to have a full screen so they can see all the puzzles and not have to make blind jumps. Housemarque experimented with a couch co-op mode that constrained both players to one screen, but players found it frustrating because their movements were limited by the edges of the screen.

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