"If you liked Civilization and Command & Conquer, you will love Outpost 2!" reads the tag line on Sierra's web page. A more accurate boast would be: "Outpost 2: The Hurry Up and Wait game!" Simply put, Outpost 2 is one of the most tedious, boring games to grace the market in a long time, leaving you very little to do but wait and watch.
The first Outpost, a turn-based game, was plagued with a massive number of problems ranging from gameplay problems to technical issues. So why would Sierra decide to create a sequel to a game that didn't do so hot to begin with? The answer is simple: Sierra decided to capitalize on current trends by making Outpost 2 real-time and throwing in some combat, which was lacking in the first game - and by doing so, hoped to shake off the "sins of the father." Too bad Sierra forgot that a game succeeds if it's fun, and not simply because it's part of a trend.
Outpost 2 has a lot of great features. It sports 16 bit color graphics, has a day/night cycle, offers plenty of choices when it comes to unit commands, and offers two levels of play. One level is a colony building game much like the first Outpost, but in real time. The second level is the typical mission-based game where you lead one of the two sides through a variety of scenarios. You can also play with up to six people through a network or Sierra's own gaming service. The multiplayer setup has five different types of end goals to chose from, something more interesting than the usual "kill them all" goal (though it's still one of the five choices).
But features don't make the game; gameplay is what really counts. That's where Outpost 2 falls flat on its face. The game is slow. Even on the highest game speed, units crawl around like ants struggling in a puddle of molasses. Buildings look alike, making finding the right one for the task at hand a hunt and peck chore. Combat is poorly done - usually, it's as simple as whoever has the most units wins. The AI is terrible, with units in the proximity of battle just sitting motionless, waiting for their turn to become space slag. Morale is supposedly an important part of colony management but you can win a scenario regardless of the state of the troops' morale. The worst offender in terms of bad gameplay is the scenarios themselves. A typical scenario: keep a certain number of colonists alive, build a certain number of units, and research a certain number of ideas. This is all accomplished by a couple of clicks of the mouse. Once you have made your building or research decisions, you can literally go off and watch TV, coming back every so often to make some more choices. Sadly, even the combat can be won while doing something else and paying little attention to the game. Try reading a novel while playing Command & Conquer and see where that gets you.
Outpost 2 is, in the end, a great deal of clicking and waiting with very little user control. Even the features that should be its saving graces, such as combat and multiplayer support, help very little. A patch to speed up play might help, but you are still faced with the fact that you're more of an observer than active participant. This game is a prime example of what happens when a company worries more about cashing in on a trend than actual gameplay. And, sadly, Outpost 2 probably would have been a lot better had it been turn based.