Is the world craving a new review of an old Dreamcast shooter? Thrasher sure thinks so! Join him on this journey of discovery and find out the answer to the burning question: should you play Outtrigger? The answer? Ummmm, maybe. Depends.
Outtrigger is about half Crazy Taxi (or maybe half Time Crisis) and half TimeSplitters. It's a multiplayer-focused, arena-style FPS with virtually no plot and an ever-present timer at the top of the screen. Matches last about two to three minutes and the backdrop is often little more than "Collect these coins!" or "Shoot these guys!" Wikipedia's plot summary is probably too good: "The story revolves around a counterterrorism organization called Interforce, set up in response to terrorist attacks on military research facilities." I didn't get even the faintest whiff of this story, such as it is, while playing the game.
Outtrigger's two main single-player modes, Arcade and Battle, task you with completing various training exercises and eventually missions, in which you ostensibly deal with vaguely-defined threats. Really, though, there is nothing to connect the single-player exercises and missions with anything. The Arcade and Battle modes have much more in common with Crazy Taxi's "Crazy Box" or TimeSplitters' "Challenge Mode" than anything else. Though the single-player is occasionally frustrating in spots, it can be easily completed in the course of a day. And like the Crazy Box, Outtrigger's single-player experience is seemingly designed to train players for the heart of the game, which in this case is the multiplayer.
Multiplayer matches in Outtrigger play by the same rules as the "Thief" mode in TimeSplitters 2: each kill is worth one point, while another point, rendered as a coin, can be collected by any player from the kill spot. Other than a team variation on the same thing, all multiplayer matches in the game play by the same rules. This can make for a rather repetitive experience, even with Outrigger's considerable variety of weapons and maps. Given the relatively small size of the arenas in the game, deathmatches can only realistically last for about three minutes before the map in question loses what little novelty it had in the first place. And while the multiplayer mode can be played with AI bots, many of the maps feature pits, which the AI cannot successfully navigate.
In terms of controls, Outtrigger really shows its age. Dual analog control has been a standard of console first-person shooters for a long time, and returning to the single-stick controls of the Dreamcast is difficult. Although some of the options approximate dual analog controls, none of them really come that close, and I never truly felt comfortable with the pre-set schemes. The game does allow you to switch on the fly from first-person to third-person view, which is neat at the very least, but it's hardly useful.
Like many other arcade-style games for the Dreamcast, Outtrigger is enjoyable in short bursts only. Dreamcast aficionados may want to find a copy simply for the sake of curiosity, because it is a truly strange game, but everyone else can probably find something else to play.