The game follows the story of four soldiers codenamed Stonewall, Amp, Mass and Shade who collectively make up Echo-Squad. The group is sent into enemy territory to find and recover a sample of a strange meteorite that is being used as a powerful energy source known as Ambrosia. The meteorite is controlled by an evil company known as the Nogari corporation, and the company plans on using its newfound power to take over the world. The army sends in the two groups Echo-Squad and Alpha-Squad to find and recover the sample with the help of the undercover double agent Dr. Reisback, but shortly after beginning the game, Alpha-Squad attacks Echo-Squad and exposes themselves as traitors. Echo-Squad will have to take out the other elite team and recover the sample to save the world all while battling some inner demons of their own. The storyline of Scourge: Outbreak isn't spectacular, but it gets the job done and continues to build towards a showdown with Alpha-Squad for the greater part of the game.
Each character in Scourge: Outbreak tells their own story and comes with different sets of skills to boot. The game features a level of progression that strengthens characters throughout the campaign automatically when meeting specific goals. New abilities allow players to revive downed teammates quicker, deal more damage with each shot or grant a variety of other passive traits. Characters are allowed to pick up any weapons they find and aren't restricted by weapon specific classes however. Weapons in the game include pistols, sniper rifles, shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, machine guns and other more powerful weapons like would be expected in a modern third-person shooter, and shooting in the game works fine with zoomed in attacks locking onto nearby enemies for fast landing shots. Each member of Echo-Squad can also harness the power of Ambrosia to unleash powerful energy attacks thanks to high technology suits each character wears into battle. The action in Scourge: Outbreak is clearly its best trait, but some problems in the game's presentation does drag down the overall quality of the title.
Problems with the game begin when the game first loads. While a good majority of the heads up display works great such as aiming reticules changing colors when locked onto an enemy, the radar of the game is almost indecipherable making players rely much more on their own presence on the battlefield than the usual shooter technology. The game relies heavily on a cover based system while fighting enemies, but as with most games of this type, the controls here can be the reason for many deaths throughout matches. The game's graphics are also a bit underwhelming considering Scourge: Outbreak is created on Unreal Engine 3. Character animations are rough, and players shouldn't expect to see characters mouths match the words spoken in the game since lips don't move at all. Luckily, the game's level design helps make up for some pretty ugly scenery, as the game always manages to mix up the environments between tiny corridors or open mazes and other layouts. The one major flaw that almost kills the fun of the game in single player sessions is the extremely harsh checkpoint system that rarely triggers and will make twenty minutes of progress in some areas disappear instantly upon death. Couple this with unreliable AI that rarely deals much damage to enemies and sometimes fails to pick up the downed player for seemingly no reason at all, and Scourge: Outbreak can quickly turn from a fun time into a rage fest.
Once you've completed Scourge: Outbreak's four campaign stages that should last roughly 4-6 hours, players can move onto multiplayer action. The game includes only three game modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Unfortunately, wait times can be incredibly long to impossible to find enough players to begin a match with only a very small community of gamers supporting the new release. The game doesn't do anything spectacular in its multiplayer versus modes with only the few typical shooter modes, five different maps to choose from and no real level progression. If you're looking for a new shooter to play online, you'll likely only be wasting your money on Scourge: Outbreak unless you can find a group of friends to schedule regular sessions with. Scourge: Outbreak offers a fun cooperative campaign, and if you're the type of gamer that enjoys shooting enemy dudes with your friends, you'll want to check out the new release on Xbox LIVE Arcade today!
Scourge: Outbreak is a hit or miss title in many ways. Some gamers will not be able to look past the few flaws it has to enjoy the game's campaign, but there is plenty of good shooting fun to be had, especially when joining up with a few other players in cooperative matches. The game is definitely challenging with so many enemies attacking in groups and weapon strength seeming to always be tipped in the favor of the bad guys.
Scourge: Outbreak is now available exclusively for Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points and is coming soon to PlayStation Network and Steam for $9.99. Scourge: Outbreak is rated M by the ESRB for Blood, Strong Language & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Scourge: Outbreak website.
Developer: Tragnarion Studios
Publisher: UFO Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed) & Steam
Release Date: July 3, 2013