I have a new riddle for you, fellow gamers: What would happen if you were to cram Gears Of War, add a Crysis-like feel to it , and top it off with a very slight touch of Mass Effect, and then just slap it all together into a sci-fi third-person shooter that’s highly reminiscent of watching a SyFy Network “original movie”? Well, if you were to guess that you’d end up with Scourge: Outbreak by Tragnarion Studios and UFO Interactive Games, Inc., then you’d be totally correct.
The story to S:O is fairly straightforward and to the point here. You’re lacing up your boots in the future to be part of Echo Squad, which is a group of elite veteran mercenaries that have been hired by the Tarn Initiative to fight against the forces of Nogari Corporation.
And there are two crucial mission objectives for this daring crew – 1.) To search for and find Dr. Reisbeck, who just so happens to be a double agent for Tarn and is somewhere behind enemy lines on Nogari Island and 2.) To obtain a strange meteorite piece that Nogari has used to make a synthetic energy source called “Ambrosia”. Oh, and let’s not forget the most important objective here — to survive four levels and make it off the island alive to complete this important mission.
Before starting this other-worldly mission, you get to choose among 4 playable characters: Major Victor “Stonewall” Dantrix, Tasya “Amp” Semivolkova, James “Mass” Lang, and Ramiro “Shade” Cortez. Once you’ve chosen your character that you wish to play as, you also get to choose among other options, including game difficulty level (i.e. “casual”, “normal”, or “nightmarish”), vibration toggle, friendly fire toggle, etc. From here, you get treated to some cinema sequences, plus a mission briefing, and a training session (which I highly recommend for those of you who aren’t as “shooter savvy”).
And once you and your team have been briefed, that’s when the ‘fun’ begins. Upon landing on Nogari Island after having been attacked prior to arrival, you immediately get bombarded with mission objectives that pretty much involve getting from here to there, kill off some bad guys, open/hack a door, kill more bad guys, and enjoy cut scenes with cheesy dialogue. And as you and your squadron dispatch the enemy, you can use what they call a Quick-Order-System (QOS) to rapidly deploy your squad members.
You can play S:O in Single Player Campaign mode or in Co-Op mode that allows up to four players. Should you opt for Co-Op play, don’t expect any exclusive Co-Op features or anything. If you can’t convince three other friends to join you, at least your fellow squad mates’ A.I. do a fantastic job at fighting the good fight with you instead of just standing around. If you decide you want to try some other multi-player action, there’s also Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag.
So let’s discuss graphics, shall we? While the CGI cinemas are a nice touch, the overall graphics left much to be desired. There’s just nothing awe-inspiring or outstanding to look at and is very reminiscent of a game that was released back when the Xbox 360 was still in its early stages, not harnessing its full graphic potential or even pushing the boundaries. And sound wise, I’d say mediocre at best. Normally I like to hear chatter in a game, but not this time around. The characters’ voice overs are so unconvincing that you can’t help but hope the characters will stop talking, and the other noises like explosions and gun shots aren’t impressive at all.
The control scheme in S:O is a bit clunky, but isn’t nearly as bad as the controls for Metro Last Light. While the tutorial part of the game really does help, things still get confusing when in the thick of things while trying to keep yourself and your crew alive. As far as weapons go, there’s certainly not much variety here, and none of the guns are all that impressive to use either. Regardless of which gun you use, you’re lucky if you could hit anything with the spray of bullets that fly. Just running up to an enemy and taking him down in melee combat is sadly more gratifying.
Aside from what I’ve already discussed about S:O, there were a couple of particular issues that really stood out. For one — the enemy’s A.I., which can be best described as horribly erratic and overpowering. If you’re not trying to gun down an enemy that is trying to play peek-a-boo while failing at ducking in and out of cover, then you’re dealing with enemies that are still very much alive after blasting them several times at point blank range with your trusty shotgun.
As if that weren’t bad enough, I also experienced some weapon reloading troubles that got annoying really quick. I can’t tell you the number of times my weapon wouldn’t reload during the midst of a shootout or it would just get stuck in rapid fire, forcing me to have to switch to a different weapon to stop it.
With there being so many shooters already out there, this gamer was honestly shocked at how Scourge: Outbreak turned out. There’s nothing unique about the game and it played like an excruciating mash-up of multiple Triple-A titles.
Platform: XBox 360
Developer: Tragnarion Studios
Publisher: UFO Interactive Games, Inc.
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
|Average to below average; hard to believe it's an XBox 360 game.|
|Overkill on the cutscene dialogue and the gunshots are ho-hum.|
|Terrible enemy A.I. and poor hit detection.|
|The bad far outweighs the good in this title; save your MS Points and look elsewhere.|