Scourge: Outbreak Review – A Somewhat Banal Victory for the Mediocre

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Scourge: Outbreak is the worst kind of terrible game. It’s not the worst game I have ever played, but it’s definitely the worst kind of game to ever have to play. However being in a position to have to play a game because playing games is your job isn’t a situation most people find themselves in, so I’ll try to tone it down a bit. I don’t like the game, but I also don’t like reviews that trash games because that’s too easy.

I know there are people out there that will totally dig Scourge: Outbreak, and those people deserve to have the game fairly represented so that they know it’s out there. I will for this reason resist the urge to simply say that Scourge is bad and the people who made it should feel bad for making it, then end the review right here in an attempt to reach in and rip the hours minutes and seconds this game took from me away from the jaws of death.

Scourge: Outbreak is a game about 4 gritty mercenary types who are on a mission to take down an evil corporation when something goes wrong, they are betrayed by their comrades, and they now have to battle both friend and foe as discover the horrible truth behind not only the evil corporation but also that of their bad ass power armor. There’s a psychic solider lady who’s controlling everyone except you. There a hidden alien menace.

Not a whole lot of anything is really explained, but that’s not for lack of trying. People talk incessantly at you. They just don’t say anything meaningful or interesting. It’s as if the people writing the story actually were being forced to write it under duress.

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I like to imagine that at some point early on the developers realized that they were going to make this really sleek 4 player co-op action game and that the story wasn’t really important, so they just wrote a bunch of plot points on the wall and threw darts at them. Then they made the mistake of showing it to someone higher up in the company and pitching it just a bit too hard, and things went spiraling out of control from there. Suddenly they had to do voice acting, even though they weren’t given a budget for it, and more people were brought in from the top to help flesh out the narrative of this exciting new franchise.

The result is an action game where the action is routinely stopped so the characters can talk about a lot of stuff you won’t care about. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys game narrative, what’s here isn’t interesting because it’s utterly devoid of effort.  It’s a whole lot of stuff you’ve seen before, done better elsewhere. If you aren’t bothered by poor story telling because you are the kind of player who doesn’t care about story, you’re still going to be bothered by it because most of the story is told in game in front of doors that won’t open until everyone has finished talking.

As for game play, Scourge: Outbreak plays exactly like Gears of War, and I do mean exactly like it. The only exceptions are the ability to either shoot a shockwave out of your hand that goes through walls and is supposed to be devastating but usually winds up being underwhelming, or use this ability to make a shield in front of yourself. Each character can make a different shield.

However, it’s important to note that this is the only thing that really distinguishes the characters from one another. Regardless of the character you’re using, the shield has only one purpose, to soak up turret fire. I found literally no other use of it, and both the shield and the shock wave ability are tied to an energy bar that drains rather quickly.

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Even if you wanted to use the shockwave you can’t because you need the all of your energy for your shield. If you come across a turret and don’t have enough energy for the shield, you’re going to have a bad time. This isn’t some kind of risk reward trade off, because there isn’t really a choice when the choice is don’t use one of your abilities or parts of the game will become nearly impossible to complete.

Oh you can also hit a button to dive and roll around, but I never used this because every time I tried to use it all it did was get me killed. It’s faster and safer just to run, which makes me wonder why it’s even a feature in the game in the first place.

There aren’t many enemy types, there aren’t many weapon types, and the level design somehow manages to get stale after level 2. The game just reeks of apathy. I would have really liked to have rated this game highly. I don’t even care that it’s a generic rehash of Gears. If it were a competent rehash of Gears, I could at least recommend it on that merit. Not every game needs to innovate.

Sometimes, It’s okay just to take something that works and try to refine it. Scourge: Outbreak is not refined. It’s not a totally broken game, but it doesn’t do a single thing well or even competently. If you love third person cover shooters so much that literally any new game will do, just so you can add one more game to your collection, only then should you play this.

Coming from this, in all likelihood you are the only person who could possibly enjoy it. Everyone else can definitely play any other game in the genre and do better.

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