The Outfit Review

The Outfit is not your typical World War II-based shooter. It is a Hollywood blockbuster in the Bruckheimer vein, starring larger than life heroes and featuring over the top action. Itís about as far from a realistic or tactical shooter as you can get. While this sounds like it would make for a really fun game, with The Outfit it all depends on whether or not youíre an Xbox Live subscriber.

Give me a tank!
The Outfit stars a trio of soldiers straight out of Sgt. Rock and each with his own specialty. J.D. Tyler is a marksman, Tommy Mac wields a flamethrower, and Deuce Williams is handy with a bazooka. Our heroes find themselves in war-torn France shortly after the Normandy invasion and charged with carrying out the tough assignments behind enemy lines and against overwhelming odds. These assignments arenít exactly covert operations as our heroes lack subtlety and have a penchant for wanton destruction. But wanton destruction makes for fun gameplay, right? Not necessarily, but more on that in a little bit.

The gameís primary feature is its ďDestruction on DemandĒ system. Killing enemies, capturing objectives, and destroying enemy assets all earn you points known as Force Units (or FUs for short, wink-wink, nudge-nudge). These can be spent to bring in extra firepower in the form of machine gun nests, artillery, and vehicles. The system for calling in these weapons is pretty easy to use Ė you push the Y button to bring up a selection menu and then use the analog stick and face buttons to select the desired weapon. Machine guns and artillery pieces all come with men to man them, but the vehicles are strictly for your use. The availability of weapons will depend on whether or not youíve captured certain strategic objectives. Capturing a radio tower will allow you to call in air and artillery strikes, a motor pool gives you access to tanks, and an armory makes the anti-tank cannons available. The machine gun nests and anti-tank cannons are more defensive in nature and are best used to secure objectives from enemy counterattacks. The vehicles are pretty much a necessity for getting around the maps, both for the extra protection and firepower they afford and the simple fact that it takes a long time to walk anywhere in the game.

Another of the gameís features is that just about everything that you see in the game is destructible. You can blow up defensive emplacements, drive a tank through a wall, and pound buildings into rubble. While plowing your tank through walls or over the sandbags protecting an enemy machine gun is both fun and useful, destroying buildings is pretty much pointless unless youíre directed to do so by a missionís objectives. Thereís not much excitement involved in destroying structures and the visual feedback is disappointing. Buildings seem to have three states, undamaged, damaged, and destroyed, and itís hard to tell how much more damage is needed to transition the building to its next state. The building damage is not location-based, so it doesnít matter where you hit it; the look and result will be the same.

This issue pales in comparison to the gameís biggest problem Ė the weapons. Itís odd that a game so focused on destruction would have problems with its weapons, but thatís the case with The Outfit. The weapons are terribly inaccurate, and itís a seemingly random event as to whether or not youíll be able to hit something thatís dead in your sights. Also the gameís collision detection is off and shots will explode on embankments and building corners even though they are aimed with plenty of clearance. Lastly the damage model is pretty inconsistent, especially when it comes to splash damage. Enemies standing next to an exploding vehicle may be killed, simply knocked down, or completely unaffected, and all seemingly at random. In fact, more often than not enemies are knocked on their backside and quickly pop back up to renew their attack. This is particularly frustrating when running down enemies with a vehicle, which almost never seems to kill them. They get back on their feet and then start circle strafing your vehicle under your weaponsí minimum range. Since you canít shoot them or run them over, youíre often forced to drive off a distance and then try to gun them down.