As a fan of third-person shooters, volunteering myself to review Scourge: Outbreak was a no-brainer. Reading the XBLA overview only made me more excited; along with a single player campaign Scourge offers a 4 player co-op along with a competitive multiplayer. For 800 Microsoft Points, what could possibly go wrong? Well, just about everything. There is nothing particularly intriguing about this game. Clunky controls and inconsistent game mechanics, along with a tedious and jumbled story results in a flat-out bad game that is Scourge: Outbreak. Imagine a parallel universe where Dead Space was completely stripped of anything good or original; your result product would be Scourge. It really seems like Tragnarion Studios took the best elements of our favorite third-person sci-fi games, such as Gears of War and Crisis, in attempt to make their own unique gaming experiencing. And they fail miserably, if I may say so.
The campaign follows the Echo Squad, an elite group of four soldiers that are hired by the Tarn Initiative to destroy the Nogari Corporation, which has a monopoly on the world’s ambrosia supply (similar to ADAM on Bioshock). However, the Nogari have harvested unstable alien aggregates and have infused it in their ambrosia formula. The Echo Squad must fight through opposing and alien forces to stop the Nogari Corporation from initiating a deadly global epidemic. The player is left throughout the game with several question, and when one is finally answered, several more are brought up. The story truly is poorly structured and narratively-challenged, and not at one point did I feel like I had a good grasp as to what was going on. The anti-climatic ending will also leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
The campaign contains 4 stages, each consisting of several objectives. The player has the option to control one of four characters, each with their own skills, backgrounds and personal vendettas against the Nogari Corporation. Right of the bat, it is obvious that they lack any originality whatsoever and do not progress as characters at all through the campaign. Naturally, I chose the all-around attributed character Stonewall, a US Army officer who has been forced into mercenary work after being dishonorably discharged. After the short tutorial, my character along with his AI companions were dropped at Nogari Island, which begins the campaign.
I found it very difficult to play the campaign for as long as I did. Gameplay, which consisted of combat and some more combat, was excruciatingly repetitive and terribly linear. The objectives were awfully similar as well, either reaching a destination or destroying a target. The fact that there were about four gun in the whole game did not help either, and you could shoot the same three enemies for the entirety of the campaign. Not to mention the visuals were that of late sixth generation games, with textures that were woefully undefined and frame-rates were extremely inconsistent. Controls were flawed as well, and at times buttons would not respond or perform different tasks that what they are assigned to do. Do not expect much from this campaign other than frustration and impatience.
When games incorporate an AI system, typically these AIs are of little help and even become liabilities. It’s the exact opposite the single-player campaign of Scourge: Outbreak. Way too often, the AI would steal my kills, which resulted in a decreased experience tally. The AI characters could also be commanded by the player to fulfill various tasks such as attacking a target or reviving another companion. The player could very easily take refuge behind a barrier while the AIs do all the work, taking away any aspect of difficulty in the game. Not once did I feel like much was at stake or that I was overwhelmed.
If there is anything redeeming about Scourge: Outbreak its the amount of online options it offers. Not that any of these options are all that fun, but the idea of me playing with a few friends is comforting. My thoughts on the co-op are fairly straight forward; it is identical to the campaign with terribly repetitive and linear gameplay. Although the online co-op allows four to play, I could only connect to one player and he did not behave any differently than the AI companions. Plain and simple, no one is playing the online co-op of Scourge: Outbreak because it is a sucky game, so the co-op is pointless.
The online portion of Scourge: Outbreak also includes a competitive multiplayer with modes such as Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All and Capture the Flag. I would tell you my experiences of the competitive multiplayer, but unfortunately no one else (not even being sarcastic) would join the public lobby in which I waited. I can’t imagine it would be that much fun though with everything that was wrong with the offline campaign.
Its difficult for myself to be so critical on a $10 XBLA game, but the truth is that there is nothing the Scourge: Outbreak really offers even with its cheap price-tag. With its poorly structured story and repetitive gameplay, Scourge: Outbreak lacks any real depth and fails in almost every aspect. There is nothing that the co-op really offers over the campaign other than the fact you can play with your friends. Unfortunately, none of your friends are going to have fun dicking around with this game. The fact that no one is online playing the game only proves my assumption. Stay away from this game and save the ten bones until something is actually worth your money