fast blog — Codename: Outbreak

This game has been rereleased in the bargain bins under the Sold Out label. You are a universal soldier. You and your buddy are sent on difficult missions, inside the USA and Russia, to defeat alien parasites which have taken over people. Yup, the storyline is as hammy as a Bollywood blockbuster, so let’s forget it right now.

You play one of these soldiers, the computer the other. You can swap between them at any time. You can issue simple commands. The other soldier can accidentally shoot you.

This game has massive settings, open countryside, game miles across. I like big games. The game presents problems to solve, but the solutions are not predetermined by the designers. I like open games. This is often a game of sniping, shooting miles into the haze at your just visible target, who’ll shoot first if he sees you first (and, if you’re not careful, they will shoot first). I like sniper games. Mind you, don’t get me wrong; some scenes involve exploring and clearing interiors.

In terms of atmosphere, the best scene is a raid into a marsh. Fog abounds, the enemies shouts echo, is that vague shadow a plants, or a riflemen? There are sixteen scenes, or so, this is a lot it takes half a day to complete one. The quality and challenge is inconsistent, but even the bastard scenes are solvable if you start alert and awake. Some scenes are more fleshed out than others. Ultimately, the game is satisfying.

This game is a few years old; I think it’s contemporary with Half–Life, but I could be wrong. It is not Half–Life, it doesn’t have Half–Life’s innovations. On the other hand, I think this is the game that introduced thieving ammo from enemies, instead of finding it by chance lying around. The graphics are of their time, although they do seem to handle plants better than some contemporary games (such as XIII). I gather it was written by a Russian software house; I do wonder if they’re still around and what they’re writing now. Have they updated their engine?

Unfortunately, the game does have some irritating bugs. For example, bodies occupy space, and can’t be splattered. Sometimes, they occupy the small space you’ve got the transverse, such as the traditional air–conditioning vents. This leaves you unable to progress. There was one scene where the enemy soldiers managed to float under the floor; they could shoot you, but not you them. There are other annoying bugs.

But for a bargain bin game, one of three for a tenner, a game more fun and challenging to play than things like Medal of Honour: Breakpoint, I reckon I’ve got a bargain—a bargain bin bargain!

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