It seems as if this ill-fated (perhaps star-crossed?) title from Sierra is going to remain the bane of the company's reputation. After the disastrous release of the terribly incomplete original title, a redone version 1.5 (available on both CD-ROM and 3.5" formats) was released that fixed most of the significant problems that caused the general pasting that Sierra took as a result of the initial title. Perhaps with the release of Outpost 2: Divided Destiny, hindsight being what it is, they should have left well enough alone.
Outpost 2: Divided Destiny isn't a bad game but it's not a great game either, which basically defeats the purpose of a sequel. A second title should learn from the mistakes of the first, incorporate all the best qualities inherent in the original and forge new and enhanced qualities to make the sequel better. Unfortunately, boosted by a flinching reaction to the beating they took on Outpost, the designers approached the sequel methodically, making sure every "T" was crossed and "I" dotted.
The result is what one might expect from such an approach -- a nearly flawless, yet very methodical and very dull effort. It seems as if somewhere along the line, the game lost its soul and became nothing more than a pretty shell filled with fancy graphics, a limited plot (same as the original game) and monotonous gameplay.
Unlike movies, where sequels often fall short of expectations, computer strategy games are supposed to improve the product, add new features, expand game worlds, enhance equipment and increase excitement. Sadly, that's not the case with Outpost 2: Divided Destiny. File this one in the bin labeled "Sequels that Never Should Have Been Made."
You'll find lots of nice aspects about the game once you delve into its inner workings. Fantastic graphics, good sound, terrific easy to use interface, beefed up manual with lots of information -- what you won't find is a compelling reason to invest gobs of time in order to see what lies at the end of this struggle for survival on an alien planet.
What's wrong with Outpost 2? A few obvious complaints come to mind including, but not limited to, a puffed up lexicon (pompous may be more descriptive), not much connection between combat and colony management modes (usually all or nothing in combat -- maybe that's the way it would be in space) and invisible colonists. Stagnant puzzles (timed no less), unnecessary real-time aspects and questionable social decisions (e.g., no healthcare concerns until health is researched -- with that logic, all the great research foundations on Earth could save billions of dollars by just shutting down), add to the dearth of exciting gameplay.
The main problem with Outpost 2: Divided Destiny is the limited game world. There's no need to get worked up about what's around the next corner or the challenge of a tactical battle plan since there is very little suspense in either case. Running a colony on this alien world is tedious, boring and repetitious and really not worth the aggravation. Steer your spaceship elsewhere.
Graphics: Beautifully rendered graphics, clear cut-scenes (what few there are) and fine detail.
Sound: Who says there's no sound in space! Nice music, good sound effects.
Enjoyment: Outpost 2 is definitely a case where the sum of its parts is actually less enthralling than the parts themselves. The game is smooth, looks and sounds great, has lots of equipment and a huge technology tree (probably the best feature of the game) but is, nonetheless, not very much fun to play. A classic case of you can't judge a book by its cover -- in this case, a game by its looks. It's more like taking a test than playing a game.
Replay Value: Some scenarios can only be completed one way and most puzzles solved by only one means. Replay becomes tedious. Overall game has enough latitude to allow for different approaches and emphasis on research but ultimately it plays out the same.
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