I love pizza. It’s a perfect gathering of flavors that collaborate to make an outstanding slice of culinary art. The Xbox Live Arcade game,Scourge: Outbreak, is not a perfect slice of pizza, so to speak. The formula that Scourge: Outbreak uses is the result of an oversaturation of features that work in moderation for other games in similar genres. Trying so hard to blend all these promising characteristics leaves gamers with an unpolished, unoriginal, and ultimately inadequate gaming experience.
Before Scourge: Outbreak (pronounced “scurge” in the game…?) begins, you are given the option to select one of four unique characters to play as, while the characters not chosen act as squad mates in the campaign that can be commanded – quite clumsily I might add. It’s here that you already start to see some similarities to other games as far as character designs go. You can play as Stonewall, a well-rounded rugged soldier with the hope to regain his family’s honor; Amp, a fit and adrenaline-seeking girl that specializes in lighter weapons; Mass, a bulky Scottish mercenary with a know-how on heavy weapons (bet you didn’t see that one coming); and Shade, a slim disfigured man with an eye for revenge in the mission at hand and a keen sense on stealth and accurate weapons.
Does this line up sound familiar?
Together these four make up Echo Squad, and their mission is to rescue a scientist that got himself into trouble while he was doing research on the Nogari Corporation, and see what they are really up to besides developing the Ambrosia powered suits that are used by the space military. Honestly, the story is trivial and undeserving of a synopsis. Moving on.
As previously stated, Scourge: Outbreak does not contain anything inspiring as far as gameplay goes either. The objectives are linear and tedious and the run-to-cover shooting is dry. It is basically impossible to get lost on any mission, and any straying off of the path is rewarded with only additional ammo for uninspiring weapons. Scourge attempts to add a level of customization with the inclusion of minor weapon attachments found during missions, but even with the attachments the guns are not at all satisfying to use. The sound effects are weak and the bloom effect seems to affect the accuracy of every one of the guns you pick up. Aside from guns, you do have some suit capabilities such as a shockwave and a small shield. However, there is really no use for these to abilities as they are weak and are not easy to use to your advantage with the cover-shooting gameplay.
Mediocre at best, the AI for allies and enemies alike will disappoint. There were several instances during my playthrough where an enemy would start running at me even though he was obviously being shot at. I also walked up to a group of four enemies at one point and killed them all without any counter-fire. This made it very easy to exploit the system and plow through rooms of enemies without any actual strategy or the assistance of your equally inept squad mates.
It becomes quickly apparent how coarse this game is. The character models are difficult to look at due to the out of sync dialogue and clunky movements during storyline sequences at the beginning of the game and in the tutorial. The in-game dialogue is predictable and is an obvious stretch to push the uninteresting story along.
Scourge: Outbreak could have been a great Arcade game, but the developers wanted to put as much in to the game as they could, neglecting many important factors. The game blends some great ideas into a mess of an experience due to the lack of detail that it was given. If you are looking for just a short and bleak 3rd person co-op shooter and have no interest in story, tight gameplay, or a carefully refined formula then this is the game for you. Otherwise, it’s safe to say you can pass on this one.
Note: The Scourge: Outbreak review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided to us for review.