Author: Kevin Savetz
Date: March 1993
Keywords: Macintosh game program software review macplay
Text: Wouldn't you know it. A young scientist, alone in the lab late at night, is doing experiments with particle acceleration. At a critical moment in the experiment, a lightning bolt hits the laboratory. The scientist is thrown into another dimension. Them's the breaks. That's the story behind MacPlay's game "Out Of this World." Happily, the game is more interesting than the plot premise. OOTW is a combination of action-adventure game and cinematic drama - it's not your typical mindless run-and-shoot arcade game. As you weave your way through the game, a story unfolds. The graphics are unique: rotoscoped images are used to create a cinematic feel - hanging objects sway convincingly and characters move fluidly. The game treats the player to movie-like pans, zooms and fades. When polygonal objects move onscreen, the graphics resemble those in a good flight simulator. During game play, the view sometimes cuts away from the usual long shot from the side - and you see a close-up of a creature intent on consuming you, or a view out of a window. The game is played by controlling the onscreen man using the keyboard. Using the cursor keys, he can move left and right, duck, and jump. The skift key controls running and attacking. In a typical level, you need to avoid man-eating plants, jump over menacing pits o' death, shoot a few guards, and solve a puzzle or two. It's the puzzles that keep OOTW from being a mindless shoot-everything-that-moves arcade game. While the puzzles aren't particularly difficult, they are interesting. The sound leaves something to be desired. Although the sound effects are acceptable - footsteps, guards yelling in an incomprehensible tongue, guns firing - the sounds are very quiet. I had to crank the "sound" control panel to the maximum before I was happy with the volume. And although the package promises a "continual musical score," musical effects are almost nil. The game looks like it's a basic port from some other platform. That's not necessarily bad, but it does lack some touches that you can find on a game created specifically for the Mac. Out of This World is interesting, playable, and a little bit addictive. It combines a fair amount of running-and-jumping with interesting puzzles. The graphics are snazzy and the response time is quick. However, I have two grievances with OOTW. First, there is no "save game" feature, as such. Instead, when you complete a level you are given a four-letter access code for the next level. The problem is, if you find yourself dead at nearly the end of the scenario, you'll have to start that level over from the beginning. Some of the scenarios are fairly long, creating a lot of repeat work. Second, OOTW can be unduly frustrating. As in any adventure game, it's up to you to figure out what to do. Sometimes this is easy: if you're in a cage, you want to get out. However, OOTW sometimes lets you skip tasks that it deems important. If you've unknowingly passed over something vital to the game, you simply won't be given the password to the next scenario - even though it seems that you've finished the level. The result, for me, was a lot of stomping around and hair-pulling, asking "What did I miss? What's wrong with this thing?!" OOTW requires a 256-color Mac with 2 megabytes of memory and just under two megabytes of hard disk space. The software installs itself quickly from one high density disk. (An obviously hastily added note in the manual states that users whose Mac can't read a HD disk can send the disk back for two low-density ones.) OOTW works with system 6.0.7 or higher, and is System 7 savvy. In addition, it supports the Advanced Gravis Mouse Stick, but I didn't test that feature. OOTW retails for $60, but I found it at Software Etc. for $50. OOTW allows you to play using any of four window sizes. Game speed varies depending on the size of the window and the speed of your Mac. Very slow machines should use the 320x200 window; speedy ones can go all the way to 640x400, although the scaled graphics look klunky at this size. On my IIsi and 14-inch monitor, I preferred the 480x300 window. Inside the OOTW package are the program disk, a registration card (provide your own stamp), the manual (acceptable), and a nasty looking anti-piracy code wheel. I was expecting to become immediately frustrated with it due to the hundreds of tiny squiggles gracing the inner wheel. Happily, though, OOTW asked me for a code from the wheel the first time I ran it, and hasn't bothered me about it since. When I called MacPlay technical support, a long-distance call to Irvine, I was treated to about five minutes of "Louie Louie" before I hung up. I don't think five minutes is too long to wait for tech support; I just won't pay to listen to such a stupid song. All in all, I have mixed feelings about Out of This World. If you frustrate easily, you may not appreciate the game. OOTW lacks some aspects of other graphical adventure games - such as providing the ability to drop and examine objects or have detailed conversations with other characters. However, the rendered graphics, digitized sounds and stimulating puzzles will please gamers. In the end, OOTW is an entertaining, playable diversion.
Copyright © March 1993 by Kevin Savetz