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Outland - Live Arcade & PSN


The Sarge
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I just read the Eurogamer review for this and it's absolutely spot-on. I think I'm about halfway through and there's a lot to admire about it but there's just no character. The concept in a platformer is quite novel and it controls well and but it's just a bit characterless really which is what I think will stop me ranking amongst XBLA's very very best. But it's definitely the best game I've played from XBLA for a while.

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Got this on Saturday and have been playing it ever since when I get the chance. Nice level of difficulty for me. Not frustrating but a decent challenge.

Can I just clarify something though? Is there no co-op offline? I can't seem to get the option on my 360. I bought this to play with my son, but up to now we've just been taking turns.

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only online buddy. Ive been going through it coop and its quite funny how you screw each other up on a regular basis. Giving noth players the ability to control the light/dark states helps as well as hurts. And its only the second level!

PS Ive already gone through 90% by myself already!

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Was gutted when I foundout it was online co-op only... seemed ideal for a bit of local co-op action.

Despite that, the single player has been really enjoyable so far. I've just defeated the 2nd boss and am about to make a start on "The City" levels.

Loving the graphic style, and the gameplay is suitably retro. Yes it borrows heavily from other games but it all gels together really well. I'm also finding it quite relaxing to play, helped by having the map split up into bitesize levels to prevent things from becoming too overfacing.

My only slight criticism is that the level & world maps could be more informative. They could atleast highlight areas you have/haven't explored. Can just see it becoming a bit of a pain if you want to try and find ALL hidden items etc once you get all the abilities.

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Game of the year so far for me. Nails everything I like to see in a platform adventure; tight controls, satisfying mix-up of abilities for movement and combat, plenty of hidden stuff, challenging boss battles that hit a nice 3rd or 4th-attempt sweet spot. Bonus is that it looks and sounds great as well.

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Right from the first jump I knew this would be good, until I played it it looked great but could always end up not controlling that well but it's one of those games where just moving about is a joy. It also has very regular checkpoints for a Metroidvania type thing, I can't see myself being desperate to find a save point if I need to quit, which is always a good thing. I can see that a lack of markers for items/explored areas might get frustrating if I'm aiming to find everything but for the moment it's not bothering me at all. I also like my nice little slide, uppercut, slash combo for taking out most enemies :)

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Edge Review is up:

Outland Review

Outland Review

A heavily stylised blend of twitch platforming, exploration and combat, Outland stars an unnamed dreamer, the reincarnation of an ancient warrior responsible for restoring balance to creation by the time-honoured means of jumping, smacking things, and changing colour.

The game’s setting is capitalisation-heavy mysticism to the core, with frequent references to Heroes, Chaos and Light that manage to be both hollow and overwrought. Housemarque's realisation of this setting is, however, striking - this is an immediately and arrestingly beautiful game, in which crisp shadow-puppet characters vault and skid through vibrant, painterly worlds. There's a wonderful attention to colour throughout - despite the fact that each of the game's five environments vary little within themselves, ever-changing background hues provide unexpected variety.

The controls are well-pitched, with the hero able to snap into a sprint or leap halfway across the screen quickly and responsively. A hint of after-touch on the jump and a generous window for error with the game's ledge-grabs mean that the core platforming remains enjoyable as the danger rises. There's also basic sword combat, though a limited range of enemy behaviours mean that best strategies are quickly learned and rarely developed further. Latter-game unlocks include heavy and dash attacks and screen-clearing bomb and beam weapons, but these serve as a means of bypassing combat rather than evolving it.

At the heart of the game is its colour-switching mechanic: the hero is able to switch blue and red forms at will, each absorbing projectiles of the same colour and damaging enemies of the opposite. In and of itself this is hardly an original device, but comparisons with Ikaruga go beyond the high concept, for Outland's stages offer a bullet-hell's worth of sweeping, twirling, beaming projectiles of both red and blue varieties. Successfully traversing these lattices of light is a matter of making split-second judgements alongside the regular demands of platforming and combat, and this added challenge provides many of the game’s standout moments.

Story mode lasts around five hours and, despite the Metroidvania trappings, is a largely linear affair: a flashing minimap icon and glowing trail conspire to prevent you from wandering off, and though there are collectibles to be found, grabbing them is more about navigating environmental challenges than exploring off the main path. There's nonetheless a fair amount of backtracking, however, which combined with some unforgiving checkpointing leads to some rather retro-feeling frustration.

Arcade mode allows individual worlds from singleplayer to be replayed with timer, score and multiplier mechanics, providing a motivation for masterful play that the base game - particularly in the early stages – lacks. Both modes can be played with a partner online, though multiplayer only really comes into its own in the unlockable co-op challenges. These offer variants on the basic mechanics - requiring players to volley bombs between each other to clear walls, or giving one player control of colour-switching for both characters - and in doing so provide the most concentrated and entertaining realisation of the core concept on offer. It's a real shame, however, that local co-op isn't available.

There will be players for whom Outland's panoply of cherry-picked inspirations sets off as many warning lights as fireworks. Castlevania, Ikaruga, Prince of Persia, Limbo: these aren't titles to bat around idly, but Housemarque's adventure wears its ambitions so openly that the comparison is inevitable. By no means a classic on those terms, Outland is nonetheless a well-executed game that - hopefully - lays the groundwork for future iteration upon its central ideas.

7

This is definitely up there as one of my best XBLA purchases in quite some time. Surprised its only 800 points too, seems to have much more depth than a lot of 1200 offerings!

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The links to bullet-hell shmups has me worried tbh but it does look interesting, I'm embarrassingly shit at those games but I love all the other ones that they link it to.

Is it that tricky if you suck balls at those games?

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The links to bullet-hell shmups has me worried tbh but it does look interesting, I'm embarrassingly shit at those games but I love all the other ones that they link it to.

Is it that tricky if you suck balls at those games?

yeah it really is a platformer + bullethell so if your good at platformers youll be fine. but it really isnt all that difficult.

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The links to bullet-hell shmups has me worried tbh but it does look interesting, I'm embarrassingly shit at those games but I love all the other ones that they link it to.

Is it that tricky if you suck balls at those games?

Yeah dont worry I suck at Ikaruga but seem to be making good steady progress on this... a couple of the bosses had me panicing a bit at first but you soon nail the attack patterns.

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Yeah dont worry I suck at Ikaruga but seem to be making good steady progress on this... a couple of the bosses had me panicing a bit at first but you soon nail the attack patterns.

oh yeah the boss battles...are quite surprising. save for the first boss, you think you know what you're getting but you have no idea.

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oh yeah the boss battles...are quite surprising. save for the first boss, you think you know what you're getting but you have no idea.

While I love the game and have nearly finished it I find the boss battles the most annoying thing about the game.

Specifically the long intros to some of the bosses which have to be replayed if you fail. It's only a minor gripe though as the use of checkpoints throughout the rest of the game is well implemented. Easily the best game I have played this year.

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Finished this last night.

Definitely up there as an early contender for XBLA game of the year. Sunk about 12 hours into single player and that's without even touching the arcade mode.

After finishing I went back through to get all the hidden items, found all of the "skulls" and about 205 of 208 money jars. (no idea where the missing 3 are but can't face searching every level "again") so will leave it there for now.

In many ways this felt it wouldnt have been out of place as a full price release.. Great audio, lovely stylised graphics and really tight controls... Just a shame it appears to have been overlooked by many (like Hydro Thunder last year)

It's definitely another gem in XBLA's crown!

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(no idea where the missing 3 are but can't face searching every level "again")

Hmm... I'm only 6 hours in but I'm on the last area (so I believe anyway), and I somehow unlocked the ability to see the locations of all the treasure jars on the map. It just happened while I was smashing through stuff and collecting coins.

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Hmm... I'm only 6 hours in but I'm on the last area (so I believe anyway), and I somehow unlocked the ability to see the locations of all the treasure jars on the map. It just happened while I was smashing through stuff and collecting coins.

Yeah I got that too.. Problem is you can't access all of the levels from the world map (only ones with teleporters). I've checked all maps that I can teleport too and they aren't on any of them.

Meaning I'd need to search through each world again to find them :(

As I mentioned in an earlier post.. The handling of the World Map is the only moan I have. It really could do with being a bit more detailed.

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Yeah I got that too.. Problem is you can't access all of the levels from the world map (only ones with teleporters). I've checked all maps that I can teleport too and they aren't on any of them.

Meaning I'd need to search through each world again to find them :(

As I mentioned in an earlier post.. The handling of the World Map is the only moan I have. It really could do with being a bit more detailed.

I found this horribly annoying when looking for the masks at the end. I would teleport to each world off the map and then realised there were other levels you couldn't teleport to and I'd find myself slogging over areas several times to find the right exits and then be dismayed when the area had no masks left and I had to trudge back. It's easier just to enter each world from the beginning and work your way through but either way it's not very well handled.

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The odds of this being delayed whenever Sony boots up PSN are massive I'm afraid. Times are hard for d-pad fetishists. :(

Yep. Beyond Good and Evil was due in a week or two as well, same goes for Under Siege.

This and a few other titles will probably end up being overlooked when the Store does eventually go back online. Such a shame. :(

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I've attempted it countless times. 1st section no problem.

But I suffer with the random platform appearances. I find the platforms are rarely the same level as her, and whilst bouncing around I always manage to overjump. Same when she appears in the middle and is to far away to get a decent sword slice in.

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I thought that was a great boss, and I dislike them as a rule. I'm only just past her myself and enjoying this but I can see it potentially getting footery and annoying and I worry I'll get frustrated and never see then end. There are no big spikes later are there?

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