At some point in the future, it seems inevitable that an evil corporation will become so large that it controls the world’s supply of a precious resource and must be taken down by a team of mercenaries. Well, maybe. Either way, that’s the premise of Scourge: Outbreak, a third person cover-based shooter now available on XBLA. While the game doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, it’s a solid offering for the price.
The game begins when the player chooses one of four playable characters, each with different attributes. Aside from their differences like weapon stability and stamina, each also has a unique combination of shield and shockwave abilities; defensive and offensive capabilities powered by Ambrosia. The mercenaries are not just here for the paycheck; each one also has a personal stake in this fight, which is revealed during cut scenes throughout play.
Right from the start, Scourge plants itself firmly in well-worn territory, and the game play is pretty cookie cutter third person shooter. Players can take cover behind objects, dive to evade attacks and return fire with one of two equipped weapons or the occasional grenade. While there’s nothing especially unique here, everything is executed well, with the exception of some minor control annoyances.
For the most part, Scourge controls fine, although there were some aspects of the scheme that lacked polish. Obstacles can be hurdled but only from cover, meaning if I was running along and a box was in the way, I would have to stop, get in cover and then jump over it. Pressing up on the control pad switches to grenades, with the triggers each throwing a different style. However, pressing up again didn’t return me to my weapons; the only way to get back was by pressing Y, which would switch the weapon I had been using. A dedicated grenade button or simple way to switch back to my original weapon would have been appreciated.
XP is awarded for kills and other actions throughout the game, and is organized into four categories. Leveling up a category will unlock perks specific to that style of play. For example, actions like reviving teammates level up the co-op category, which unlocked perks like shared vision, which allowed me to see any enemy my teammates could see on my radar. Likewise, leveling up offensive categories unlocks perks like faster reloads and weapon switching. It’s a good mechanic that both encourages well-rounded play, and also rewards the player’s particular style.
While there is a single player game, at its heart Scourge is really a four player co-op game with bots. Even when playing by myself levels would end with a score screen showing each character’s kills, revives and other stats. Fortunately, my AI teammates were solid, and well designed. They did a good job reviving me (and each other) when incapacitated, and were generally useful in combat.
Playing co-op online (as the video shows) works well and runs smoothly, with the exception of some frame rate issues that popped up occasionally. In addition to the co-op mode there are standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, but I wasn’t able to play them because I was literally the only player online when I tried. Scourge’s multiplayer can certainly be fun, but players should plan on bringing a friend along, as finding someone to play with will prove difficult.
Scourge: Outbreak is a solid game, either single player or co-op. While it has some quirks (like starting me from the wrong checkpoint when I resumed a game), for the price it’s a solid and fairly lengthy experience. There’s nothing Earth shattering here, but for 800 points it’s a good option for players who enjoy the style.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.