To me, the essential core of the problem:
Raven treated the game to be played like a game.
This has been preying on my mind since I completed Outcast.
From garbage truck puzzles to fake cities, the intent was to be playing a game--not to be a simulation of real life. Standard levels, with no practical reasons for most of the architecture-are like that because the only reason for them is to provide puzzles and enemies for Kyle to shoot at.
As such, the game was crippled from the start. Standards were crippled from the start. I love the guys at Raven, but a fundamental point--they churn out high-quality games, but yes, they churn them out. They are like EA. They don't aim to set the bar for a particular genre, they aim to make a decent game that'll sell.
That's why I always root for game companies like Lionhead Studios--sure, perhaps the merchandise is crippled and flawed (Black and White for example) but they ALWAYS go for the best. They go for over the top. Another example is Dungeon Siege, Half-Life, Jedi Knight. These games, to me, felt like they had some genuine effort put into them--I just didn't get that with the cool stuff in Outcast...
Don't get me wrong. The game is great, and Raven must have put a LOT of effort into the game. They just didn't want to go the extra mile....IMHO.
The FPS has such potential, and it upsets me. Half-Life went to extra mile, and look at them.
EXTRA EFFORT PAYS. It provides hype. It'll sell.
The Star Wars franchise with the FPS/RPG market has such potential, but devs just don't want to do it. Imagine--playing a game where you first have to rise through the ranks, being trained....go through cities helping the innocent..
Star Wars Galaxies is straining to tap fully the power of the Star Wars franchise, at least, and I'm rooting like hell for them.
Insert a witty and thought-provoking quote here, I can't think of any.