While the system is nearing its final days, the Dreamcast's bread and butter is still its online capabilities. Outtrigger is a fast-paced shooter from Sega that works well as an online game, but it doesn't have enough to it to outlast the likes of Unreal Tournament or Quake III Arena.
Similar in scope to other competitive arcade shooters, such as the Grid, Spawn, and War: The Final Assault, Outtrigger takes the first-person shooter genre and strips it down to its core gameplay elements. The result is a fairly simplistic game that is built for speed. Each character starts with three weapons: a machine gun, a grenade or bomb, and a rocket launcher or other heavy-weapon equivalent. The game's different characters all have slightly different weapons, so your heavy weapon could be a rocket launcher or a railgun-style weapon, among others. You can also make a custom character and pick which three weapons you start with. More stages, characters, and weapon choices are unlocked as you proceed through the game's mission mode, which gives you set objectives, such as protecting a hostage from constant attacks or defeating a set number of enemies before time expires. The mission mode is really the meat of the single-player experience, as the game's arcade mode is essentially mindless. Beyond those modes, there is a four-player split-screen mode and a six-player online mode.
Multiplayer matches can be played to a specific time or point limit, and they're available in both standard free-for-all and team deathmatch flavors. The online mode supports Sega's underused broadband adapter and features a lobby system that lets you chat and find different players or game modes before finally joining a game. Like in Quake III, you can join games that are already in progress, provided the player who started the game allows you access. The online mode isn't impervious to lag, which can cause things like rockets that fire close to a second after you push the fire button and opposing players who magically teleport around the arena, but in our tests with both dial-up and broadband connections, the game remained reasonably playable throughout.
Though the game can be played from a first-person or a third-person perspective, the game controls like a first-person shooter. There are several different control options, and it's really a matter of preference that determines which one is right for you. For the record, we found D1, a setup that closely mirrors other first-person shooter controls, to be optimal. The trouble with the control setup option is that it never tells you what each configuration does, so you're left to try each one until you find one that suits you. The game moves very quickly. Arenas are usually kept pretty small, giving each match an increased sense of urgency. In the arenas, you can pick up additional health and ammo, power-ups that enhance your damage or give you thermal or night vision, and additional weapons, such as a flamethrower or a photon cannon, which bounces its shots off of walls.
Graphically, Outtrigger looks great. The small arenas allow for a very fast-moving game, and the frame rate doesn't suffer as a result of the game's speed. The game is colorful as well, and the models look pretty good. The sounds are your standard gunfire and explosions, but they sound pretty nice. The music, however, gets pretty annoying, especially if you're chatting for extended periods of time.
In the end, Outtrigger earns points for being a simple, easy-to-play game, but it isn't for everyone. First-person shooter fans will still be better served by a more diverse game, such as Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament. But if you're a broadband-adapter owner looking for something new that supports your woefully neglected device, Outtrigger fits the bill nicely.