While it’s not exactly been a high profile title, Scourge: Outbreak has been in the public eye for quite some time. At it’s unveiling it promised to deliver an innovative take on the Gears of War mould for a wallet-friendly price via digital distribution platforms. A year ago this would’ve been great, but on the wake of titles such as Mars: War Logs and State of Decay, it simply feels like it doesn’t do enough.
A distant future sees some bad guys messing about with alien DNA and developing some super-humans and nasty beasts. This is as interesting as the science-fiction schlock plot gets, but it does leave plenty of room for the developers to innovate with objectives and enemies, especially when it comes to boss fights. Sadly, this is one of many opportunities that Scourge: Outbreak has failed to capitalise on, sticking hard-and-true to the Gears of War template with its point-to-point objectives and weak-spot mini bosses. The videogame shows some promise with the group of high ranking enemies you face – rather predictably – near the end of each lengthy chapter, but the completely disjointed difficulty curve ruins any innovation that might have been prevalent through the design.
This is perhaps a microcosm that’s perfect to summarise Scourge: Outbreak: in one instance it’s formulaic and average, and in the next it’s interesting yet inherently flawed. There’s very little that Scourge: Outbreak does that could be said to be if high quality. Designed as a co-operative experience the videogame breaks in the first instance by forcing parties to separate in order to play through the tutorial. When the full quota of players isn’t available those who are present are able to issue rudimentary commands to their artificial intelligence (AI) teammates – move here, shoot this, revive them – which is a welcome addition to the formula but those cause confusion amongst less organised teams as every player uses potentially vital second in combat to issue different order to the same AI character.
The gunplay of Scourge: Outbreak is much as would be expected: lock into cover, aim and fire, two weapon limit, roadie run, blind fire. Innovation is clearly thin on the ground. The variety of weapons is entertaining though there is hardly anything memorable in the selection of futuristic rifles and shotguns. Scourge: Outbreak features a player ranking system and awards to make the gunplay more rewarding, but in reality it’s simply ignorable rather than being a key component in your desire to progress.
The area in which this ranking system could prove most beneficial, competitive multiplayer, is hampered by a lack of interest. A full suite of traditional multiplayer gameplay modes is available, but it’s impossible to find a match at present. Given that the current trend for online multiplayer sees new titles peak at launch, it’s highly unlikely that this is going to change any time soon.
For all its good intent, Scourge: Outbreak delivers a decidedly average videogame experience. In sticking to established convention without question it presents a formulaic action videogame in which the strings pulling the players along are easy to see, and threadbare. Scourge: Outbreak can prove to be entertaining in small doses when playing online with friends but the poor level structure hampers even this. It’s almost as if Scourge: Outbreak doesn’t want any but the most ardent third-person shooter fans to play it.