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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: September 14, 1997
Outpost 2: Divided Destiny is the latest real-time strategy game from Sierra and Dynamix. This title attempts to distance itself from its predecessor by addressing a lot of the problems in the original, while at the same time building on what Sierra believes was a fundamentally solid premise. Dynamix brought Patrick Cook to the project, who had worked for a number of years on sports titles, for a fresh perspective and to hopefully right the many wrongs that plagued the original game.
The last remaining humans have abandoned a dying Earth in search of a new planet, on which they can start all over again. In Outpost 2, you attempt to lead one of the two colonies in their struggle to survive on the hostile planet called New Terra. Eden is the original settlement, and its colonists believe that New Terra can be transformed from a forbidding, unfriendly wasteland into a planet not too different from Earth. Plymouth was formed after a split by colonists who believed that screwing up one planet (Earth) was enough, and humans should adapt to their environment, not try to change it to their liking. These fundamentally different philosophies have created a rift between the two settlements that has permanently divided them.
In the single-player mode, you can choose to lead your colony in a campaign or colony game. The colony game is the same as the original Outpost, and provides an opportunity for players to build a thriving colony amidst serious adversity. The two campaigns (one for Eden, one for Plymouth) are comprised of 12 missions that follow a linear storyline and offer a variety of scenarios and objectives. Unlike the unstructured nature of the colony game, each mission has specific objectives that must be met in order to succeed. Objectives can include reaching a certain level of population, researching important technologies, obtaining given amounts of resources, and many other things.
Some impending disaster always puts you under a time crunch as you attempt to finish your objectives list, and new items can be added to the list during the mission. Objectives will automatically be checked off as you achieve them, but will reappear as unfinished if you no longer meet the criteria (i.e., several of your vehicles are destroyed and you no longer have the required number to finish the mission). How you perform in one mission may determine how you must play the next. For example, the technologies you research carry over from one mission to the next. So, researching more than what is required will put you ahead of the game in the next mission.
The difficulty of the single-player campaigns varies greatly depending on what skill level you choose. At the easy level, you begin each mission with some structures and vehicles already built. At the hard level, you begin with virtually nothing and the game can be a mad scramble to complete your objectives before time runs out. The difficulty level for the colony game determines the frequency and size of the many obstacles (i.e., earthquakes) that the player must deal with in trying to build up his or her colony. You can play the colony game as either Eden or Plymouth, and can choose one of two objectives: achieve a population of 600 colonists (this is not easy) or place a given amount of resources and colonists on a starship (this is also not easy).
The multi-player aspect of the game is set up to provide a number of different scenarios for play. Some of them are short and simple, while others can take a lot longer. For example, in Last One Standing, the object is to eliminate all your opponents, but in Space Race, your objective is to be the first to construct a starship. One necessitates the use of force, while the other requires force and the ability to balance one’s colony, and obviously can take longer. Other multi-player scenarios include Midas (the one with the most metals in storage after fixed amount of time, wins), Resource Race (first with given amount of resources), and Land Rush (same as Last One Standing, but you start with only vehicles, and no structures).
The setup of this game isn’t much different than most of the real-time strategy games on the market. You have to mine metal and process it to build things, make sure all of your buildings have enough power, keep your colonists happy and fed, and allocate scientists and workers to the various structures in your colony. Some of the structures you can build include research labs for discovering advances that are crucial to your survival, factories to produce other structures and vehicles, residences and nurseries that provide housing and enable your colonists to reproduce, and agridomes to keep your colonists well fed. Vehicles gather resources, help construct buildings, repair other vehicles and structures, and, of course, provide combat ability.
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