Scourge: Outbreak Review
Avoid it like the plague or give it a chance?
In April 2010, Tragnarion Studios released The Scourge Project to a less than stellar reaction from both gamers and critics alike. Fast forward to July 2013 and they’ve gone ahead and released an updated version of the game, now known as Scourge: Outbreak. I actually hadn’t played the original, but the cooperative shooter seemed interesting enough that I wanted to check it out for myself. Let’s take a look at whether or not Tragnarion learned from their past mistakes and if their updated version would fare better than the original.
Scourge: Outbreak is a cover-based, Third-Person Shooter set in the year 2036, where the world’s energy is controlled by the Nogari Corporation. You’ll play as one of four members of Echo Squad, a group of mercenaries working for the Tarn Initiative, whose sole purpose is to bring down the mega corporation. The Tarn Initiative believes Nogari are behind the outbreak of Alien creatures that have been killing humans for the past several years. Your job is to get in, gather the evidence and take down the evil corporation, once and for all. Unfortunately, the dialogue is cheesy, the characters aren’t very interesting and the story ends up doing very little to enhance the experience. If you go into it with low expectations, you won’t mind the weak story as much, but if you were hoping for a deep, well-written story, you should find another game.
I’m not going to go over all of the core gameplay mechanics, because if you’ve played Gears of Wars, Mass Effect or any other cover-based, Third-Person Shooter, you know what to expect with Scourge: Outbreak. Most of the systems work fine, such as taking cover, throwing grenades, aiming down the sights, using melee attacks and of course firing your weapon, but you shouldn’t expect the same kind of polish that you’d find with the games I mentioned earlier. Scourge: Outbreak is definitely worth its $10 price tag when it comes to production values. The graphics aren’t great, the characters are a little stiff to move and the enemy AI could use another year or two in QA testing. Your squadmates work fine most of the time and will get their fair share of kills and revive you when you go down, but the enemy AI is a whole other story.
The enemy AI is definitely the worst thing about Scourge: Outbreak, technically speaking. Their dead bodies will get stuck in walls and glitch out like crazy most of the time, but they act even worse when they’re alive. They will, quite often, either run straight at you and take a Shotgun blast to the face before even lifting their weapon, or they will just jump from cover to cover and throw grenades at you. It’s rare that you find an enemy who is happy with their position and actually wants to just shoot at you. Some of the reviews that I read for the original Scourge Project complained about both the enemy and team AI, but my teammates in Scourge: Outbreak worked fine most of the time, so it seems like Tragnarion may have forgotten about the enemy AI when they were making their updates.
Another aspect of the game that is a little underwhelming is the Ambrosia Suit and its limited capabilities. It only has two abilities: Shield and Shockwave. Shield allows you to create a shield in front you for a limited amount of time and Shockwave allows you to unleash a not-so-devastating blast at your enemies. Both require Ambrosia to use, which you can only get from finding energy stations around the game. Depending on which character you choose, your abilities will either be static or dynamic. A static Shield is created in front of you and you are free to move around it and a dynamic shield will follow you around. A static Shockwave blast will explode around you, while a dynamic Shockwave blast is sent out in a straight line in front of you. The only noticeable difference that I found is that when you use the dynamic Shield you can’t fire your weapon or use melee attacks while it’s active. You can use both while the static Shield is active, which makes me wonder why you’d ever want to use the dynamic Shield.
Scourge: Outbreak does feature a decent little progression system that rewards you with XP for performing different tasks, such as reviving a squadmate, getting a headshot, killing an enemy using the Shockwave ability, killing an enemy that was about to kill a squadmate and more. For every two levels that you reach, you’ll be rewarded with a new perk in one of four categories: Abilities, Co-op, Assault and Weapons. Depending on the task you’ve completed, you’ll receive EXP in that category. For example, if you kill an enemy while blind-firing, at close range, with a melee attack or with a grenade, you’ll receive Assault XP and you can unlock perks to provide bonuses to blind-fire and sprinting, you’ll take less damage from melee attacks and you’ll unlock additional grenade slots. Each category has different perks to unlock, so you’ll have to complete a variety of tasks to unlock them all. It may not be super deep, but it’s better than not having any sort of character progression at all.
The single player campaign will probably take you around six hours to complete, depending on the difficulty you’re playing on, but it does allow you to go back, replay previous checkpoints and grind additional XP for your squad. Fortunately though, you don’t have to do it alone.
Scourge: Outbreak features both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. First, you can play through the entire campaign with up to three other players online, with drop-in, drop-out support. Another nice feature is that your character progression will carry over between your solo game and any co-op games that you play. It’s definitely better to play with a few friends, but you may not be able to convince three other people that Scourge: Outbreak is worth their time or their money.
On the competitive side, Scourge: Outbreak features Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag, but there are so few people playing it that finding a game takes way too long to bother. Even if there were lots of people playing, Scourge: Outbreak doesn’t really do anything different enough to keep me away from the other Shooters that I already play online.
To me, Scourge: Outbreak is one of those cheap co-op games that you and a few friends can waste a weekend with when you’re bored. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone buy it without playing the demo first, but you shouldn’t overlook it completely either. Even if you liked what you saw in the demo, you should wait for Scourge: Outbreak to go on sale before you buy it. Not only will you save money, but it will make it easier when you try to get your friends to buy it too.
Release Date: June 3rd, 2013
Available On: Xbox Live Arcade, Coming Soon to the Playstation Store and PC via Steam