Outlaws: The Spaghetti-Western Shooter Reviewed by Brandon C. Hovey

Outlaws (1997)

Platform: PC

Developer: LucasArts

Price: $9.99 on GOG.com

[NO SPOILERS AHEAD.]

“Keep both barrels on that table, Missisippi.”

“Bring out three coffins.”

Hearing these quotes is making you think of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne drawing their six shooters and keeping peace in the west through old-fashioned violence isn’t it? Well, I’ve been thinking of Westerns lately. In my teens, I developed a serious affection for Spaghetti Westerns and movies of that ilk like the original Django.

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Outlaws is a tale of retribution. The player character is former U.S. Marshal James Anderson. Anderson’s wife has been murdered, and his daughter has been kidnapped. As Anderson, your job is not to bring these criminals to justice, it is to pursue vengeance. This game leans more towards being a Spaghetti Western influenced shooter than a Gene Autry one.

Outlaws was one of those games that I didn’t get a chance to play due to the timing of its release. I was only seven years old when the game was released and a little too young for this kind of game. Outlaws is most notable for being one of the first PC games to feature an in-line sniper zoom. Before this game’s release this wasn’t really attempted. This influenced another LucasArts game later in its expansion pack that will be reviewed later on this month.

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This game features elegantly drawn cutscenes and has wild-west settings ranging from palatial ranches, to rocky pueblos. The main game has eight levels, but an expansion pack is included with the GOG purchase. For the sake of time only the main game will be reviewed. My personal favorite levels in the game are a train, a fortified Mexican mission , and the final level.  With levels like these the player feels immersed in a long, epic chase across a wild west inspired landscape in rescue Anderson’s daughter and to avenge the death of their spouse.

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The music was composed by Clint Bajakian, one of the most prolific game composers. He was contracted to score many of the LucasArts games including the Monkey Island franchise and Dark Forces, a Star Wars FPS. Bajakian’s work could be mistaken for the work of Ennio Morricone in the movies The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly along with their companions Fistful of Dollars,  and For A Few Dollars More. You can sample this music here.

Weapons in the game include a trusty six-shooter, the lever-action with the groundbreaking sniper scope feature, a variety of shotguns, dynamite, knife, and a gatling gun in the final level. I’ve got a problem with this gun. This particular handgun has a double-action capability where the long trigger pull cocks the revolver and turns the cylinder for the next shot. The secondary fire mode for this weapon is a fan the hammer ‘cowboy-style’ single action pull. The gun has a swing out cylinder in the reload animation and no shells are shown ejecting from the cylinder. The Internet Movie Firearms Database says this particular weapon is a Remington 1875 in .45 Long Colt. The Remington 1875 was not a double-action capable revolver. Another variant of this particular revolver, the Remington-Rider Double Action in .36 was double-action capable, hence the name. Again, there’s no reason to dwell on this, but it bothered me a bit.

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The odd cowboy weapon did not bother me as much as other things like the main game’s brevity and the dated AI. Friendly-fire incidents were common amongst enemy forces. Enemy placement was not bad at all, but it certainly is odd to see enemies walk into each other’s fire in games more often than not. The campaign only having eight levels was not too upsetting, but this game was published in an era  where single-player gaming had more respect than multi-player gaming in many ways. The grounds for my compliant are only slight though as the level design was magnificent in each level. the project team itself was led by Stephen R. Shaw and Daron Stinnett two of LucasArts’s finest. Their work will be seen in other reviews to be published on this blog.

Outlaws is worth your time if you like cowboys, westerns, and good old-fashioned games that are found at places like GOG.com. Check this game out you’ll feel like you’re in the same world as the original Django was set in and the Dollars Trilogy of Sergio Leone. Also, be sure to save often on Level 3. I won’t give away what happens, but you’re in for a challenge.

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