A turn-based colonization strategy game, published in 1994 by Sierra On-Line. It was originally written for Windows 3.1 and later ported back to DOS (Outpost 1.5).

Outpost dealt with a scenario involving an asteroid collision with earth. A corporation decided to build a colonization starship and support craft to send up to two hundred people to another star. As the leader of this expedition, the player decides what cargo to bring, which star to fly to, which planet to land on and where to land. From that point, a turn-based engine lets the player decide where to place landing craft, new buildings, tunnels, tubes and other infrastructure needed for the colony to survive and eventually thrive.

It's fortunate for the player that the game makes them take two seed factories and at least two sets of essential things, because half of the crew will leave and form a second colony. This "rebel colony" becomes an economic competitor on the planet, making game play a little more interesting.

Realistic Science

More than any other element in the game, the science behind Outpost made the game enjoyable and replayable. The designers' research into developing the game, complete with references, is available in the Outpost Strategy Guide. The player can jump into the game without laughing at Star Trek solutions to Babylon 5 problems.

Almost Infinite Replayability

Once you master the game's mechanics, you can try again on a more hostile world. A Venus-like world poses its own unique problems, and opportunities, compared to a Moon-like world. Try to take over the rebel colony. Run a monorail system from one end of the planet to the other. Engage in terraforming. Create multiple colonies and establish trade routes. Start a new space program. Or all of the above.

Eventually the game play will become repeatative and boring. By the time you get this far, however, you'll have learned a few things about keeping a space colony alive. You might even be interested in researching your own extra-Solar colonization program. Let me know when you're leaving before 2004 MN4 hits, OK?


RPGeek reminded me that there were more versions of Outpost 1.5. Sierra completed Outpost 1.5 for Windows 3.1 some time around 1996, which was tested under Windows 95. I don't know if there was a Win95-specific port of the game, or if the Win 3.1 version was just perfected for Win95 and re-released. The DOS version was available in some bargain bins around 1999. Pint also says there was a Macintosh version, though it was supposedly buggy beyond playability.

Making an older version of Outpost work in Win95 was an adventure of its own. I found an Outpost 1.0 CD-ROM at a swap meet but it didn't include the needed "Launch Disk" floppy disk which contained the actual game code. I had to cobble up a disk with the Outpost 1.1 binary to install the game, and then apply the Outpost 1.5 patch. Fortunately, both were available from Sierra's support web site at the time.

If you have the old Outpost CD-ROM for Windows and never tried the 1.5 patch, consider doing so. Outpost 1.5 finally included a trucking and monorail system, trade with the rebel colony, support for multiple colonies, along with a bunch of other stuff the Strategy Guide mentions but never existed in previous versions.

Out"post` (?), n. Mil. (a)

A post or station without the limits of a camp, or at a distance from the main body of an army, for observation of the enemy.

(b)

The troops placed at such a station.

 

© Webster 1913.

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