It's 2012 and an unidentified object has crashed in a forest in Montana. A unit of highly trained marines is sent to investigate. None of them return. Which can only mean one of two things...
1) They've realised the futility of war, started a naturist's commune and discovered the joys of brotherly love, casting away their cammo gear and tossing their weapons into the undergrowth, preferring to spend their days singing songs about trees while running around in their underpants and having casual sex with badgers.
2) They've all been killed. So how does this endeavour end, I hear you ask? Are you sitting comfortably? No? Well stop bloody well slouching then.
Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?
When it comes to being unoriginal, Codename Outbreak's opening sequence has to be up there with the best of them. Dense forest. A platoon of soldiers. An unseen enemy. The platoon is attacked by alien parasites. Parasites take over soldiers' brains. Soldiers turn on their comrades. Panic. Uninfected soldiers fire randomly into undergrowth without actually hitting anything. Shouting. Running away. Swearing. Cut to unseen enemy tracking two terrified soldiers from the tops of trees with thermal imaging. Soldier falls over theatrically as bullets scythe through his back, more panicked random firing into undergrowth, more swearing. Bit more swearing for good measure, feeble attempt to save dying comrade by stupidly cradling his head, followed by more random firing. Enemy now visible. Too late. Now the other one's dead too...
Blaze Of Glory
So not the most auspicious of starts then. And the bad news is that things get worse before they get better for this 3D action/strategy shooter from Game World GSC (the developers of the excellent Cossacks). The good news though, is that when things do start to heat up, you'll feel as though you've been hooked up to an intravenous drip of adrenaline, strapped into your seat and had your hand superglued to your mouse, treed only when the end sequence has faded to a memory. Mixing elements from Delta Force, Operation Flashpoint anti Aliens Vs Predator, Codename Outbreak proves to be a truly enthralling and open-ended game, let down only by a motley assortment of sloppy shortcomings, some unrealised potential and a storyline more unoriginal than a romantic comedy.
The first few hours are far from impressive. Textures are poor and early missions are monumentally dull, with some ridiculously easy missions throwing up a set of patronising and uninteresting tasks, which wouldn't challenge a run-over Shitzu. But then, just as you're about to give up on the whole thing, the game is suddenly transformed by a series of enthralling and brain-teasing missions, which require as much in the stealth and planning department as they do in the physical violence one. The plot starts to intensify, and you begin to realise just how much of a threat the alien parasites pose to humanity. Having taken over several key military locations by implanting themselves into soldiers' brains, the world's safety lies in your hands. Every mission becomes full of suspense and brilliantly implemented ideas. Take for example the one where you have to stop four nuclear missiles from being fired off by the alien invaders...
Operation Stop Those Alien Missiles
Firstly, you have to configure your team, choosing two soldiers, from a selection of ten specialists, ranging from marines, to snipers and demolitions experts. Then you must equip yourself and your Al-controlled sidekick, with the best type of hardware for the given mission. This includes armour and ammunition, but no guns, as you only have one to choose from, a swivelly-type multi-purpose all-in-one weapon with nine different functions, ranging from a machine gun to a rocket launcher. Well whaf did you expect? This is the future don't you know. Separate guns? How quaint. Anyhow, after a quick briefing, it's time to get to work.
Day In The Life...
Standing waist-deep in a river, the only way forward is down. Before long, you've come to a set of tunnels. Dew drops fall from the ceiling into puddles, their sound reverberating around the maze of passages with an eerie echo. OooooOOOh. Switching to night vision you and your team-mate soon find the entrance to a large darkened room. Steam from burst pipes rises and floats hauntingly across the room. You move slowly, but the splash of water alerts the guards patrolling above. A firefight ensues, and you battle for survival as the enemy uses their height advantage to keep you pinned down. While you're preoccupied, an alien parasite creeps up behind. You swivel round, pulse racing, and saw it in half with a machine-gun burst, as in the distance, echoing voices of enemy reinforcements grow ever closer.
Climbing up to ground level, you order your team-mate to cover you as you scout ahead, but turning the corner, you're spotted by a solitary guard. He runs away. But instead of being a cowardly nonce, he's actually circled round you and attacked unexpectedly from behind, strafing as you both try to pick him off. The bastard.
You're bleeding, your buddy's injured too, and you're faced with one of three routes to reach the rocket. Making your choice, you enter a darkened passage, stumbling across an alien egg, which bursts open, spewing forth its hideous contents like an acne-covered face trapped in a vice, and sending you reeling back, gun kicking manically in your hands as you forget the importance of burst fire. By the time you reach the missile complex, you're too late. A mad rush ensues to find the self-destruct computer. But before you can find it, you'll have to go through hell all over again..
The Good The Bad And The Unoriginal
Although Codename Outbreak is flawed in several departments, such as its lack of originality (many elements are borrowed from famous action films - see the Spot The Difference Panel), quirky physics (sometimes you can't shoot through a tent for example), the inability to drive vehicles and some pretty dated graphics, in many respects it's a real gem. It melds the fear and suspense of AvPwith the slowpaced and strategic gameplay of Delta Force and adds the extra twist of an Al-controlled ally, who fights by your side and follows your instructions with (for the most part) genuine intelligence. There's also the added bonus of each level being hugely open-ended, meaning you can play through the game several times without it getting too repetitive.
It's no classic, but it more than deserves your attention and for its troubles can rightly claim a deserved Award For Excellence. Well done, gold star, rapturous applause. Next time though Game World GSC, try to come up with an original storyline. OK?
Download Codename: Outbreak
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP