AMSTERDAM--Who knew it only took three men to win some of World War II's greatest battles? While it may not be completely accurate from a historical perspective, THQ's upcoming wartime action game for Xbox 360, The Outfit, is a certainly an interesting take on the great conflict. The new game will let you reenact several classic European battles from the point of view of three very special characters. We got an updated look at The Outfit at tonight's X05 event to see how the game is progressing toward its release.
The last time we saw the game, most of the action was confined to an urban area--a setting that allowed for plenty of opportunities to show off the fully destructible environments found in the game. And though the more open-ended area we played at tonight's event still left plenty of chances for things to blow up, it also gave us a good sense of the sizable chunks of real estate that will make up each mission in the game. One mission began in a rural farmland area, which was serene and peaceful until our Allied hero arrived and starting blasting holes into anything wearing a swastika.
In The Outfit, you'll be playing as one of three heroes in the game: the stealthy J.D. Tyler, the antitank specialist Deuce Williams, and the Nazi lawn mower Tommy Mac. Each hero comes complete with his own set of weapons. Tyler is a sniper, while Tommy can spray bullets with his machine gun (or fire with his flamethrower). Deuce, on the other hand, specializes in taking out vehicles. And as such, he's equipped with a bazooka and sticky bombs, which are perfect for taking down tank treads. You'll also be joined by four squadmates who will assist you in your mission objectives. They can provide covering fire for you or even do the dirty work for you by assaulting objectives, depending on the orders you give them.
Unfortunately, death is a part of war. Fortunately, in The Outfit, death won't slow you down too much. In fact, death has some advantages in the game. For one, it will give you the opportunity to switch from one hero to the next. If your squadmates die, that won't be much of a problem either, since you can just call for reinforcements by spending field unit points, which are earned by engaging in combat. In our time with the game, we earned some field unit points by killing off Nazi soldiers, and we got the big payoffs when we captured specific mission objectives, such as radio towers, ammo dumps, and motor pools. More field unit points means more reinforcements, as well as the ability to call in air strikes, machine gun emplacements, and special vehicles. You'll unlock more special units, such as multiple types of tanks and jeeps, as you progress through the game. Often, earning a new vehicle is as easy as capturing the motor pool in which it's found.
Speaking of vehicles, one of the coolest aspects of The Outfit's open-ended design is the fact that practically every vehicle found in the game is drivable. While that might not sound like such a big deal when you're talking about the piddly trucks and jeeps that dot the environments, it becomes a bigger deal when you throw in locomotives. Yes, that's right. You can hijack trains in the game and drive them wherever the tracks take you. Locomotives will play a key part in online matches, producers told us, because they let you haul special cars (such as ammo ones) to different points on the map to give your team extra advantages.
Online play will offer a two-player cooperative mode and eight-player competitive mode. Cooperative play will let you and a friend take on the Third Reich, and each of you will have a squad of soldiers to command. The eight-player game pits the game's three protagonists against a trio of enemy soldiers to battle it out for ultimate online supremacy.
As we mentioned, the game's environments are huge. The game's producers told us that some of The Outfit's 12 missions might take a skilled player an hour to complete. And what's more impressive is the variety of scenery you encounter as you progress through a single level. The rolling farmland we saw at the beginning of the level we played soon gave way to a slightly more populous small village, complete with fully destructible buildings that were almost too much fun to blast holes in with our Sherman tank's cannon. The lighting in the game was notable too, especially the fire effects that shot out from Tommy Mac's flamethrower. (Is it wrong to stare with evil glee after purposefully charring your squadmates to a crisp? Not that we'd know or anything.)
The Outfit has all the makings of a fun and action-packed romp through World War II, and its arcade-style gameplay should prove to be welcome relief from the flood of other WWII shooters over the years that have usually placed an emphasis of realism over out-and-out fun. We're talking about video games here, after all, and the developer of The Outfit seems to understand that point pretty well. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates on this promising action game.