Global Outbreak: Doomsday Edition Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

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In the last couple of years, Steam has been hosting a number of games of dubious quality. Sadly, a fair share of such „quality“ titles have been the efforts to port mobile games to PC. Even some of the big development houses messed this up (Deus Ex: The Fall immediately springs to mind), so it’s obvious that it’s not a simply copy/paste task. Thankfully, Global Outbreak is not a crappy port. Sure, it is clear that it’s a mobile game first and foremost, but it’s been nicely upgraded and transfered to everyone’s favourite gaming platform.

Global Outbreak: Doomsday Edition is a game about saving the world from an alien zombie infection, there’s no going around that. Basically, about a dozen meteors crash into Earth, each carrying the same strain of a virus that turns infected humans into murderous cannibals. With the world’s armies suspiciously debilitated, it’s up to your mercenary group to stomp out the plague as soon as possible. Upon the start of your first campaign, you will be greeted by a digital representation of this game’s planet Earth – something XCOM veterans are fairly comfortable with. From there, you have to build your first combat-ready base, assign mercs, equip them and start kicking ass. It’s a fairly simple setup, but Global Outbreak makes it seem complicated due to its strangely convoluted interface. The (sadly low-textured) planet is fitted with a whole load of outpost positions, and since their connecting grid intersects with other neon-coloured points of interest, it’s easy to miss important functions if you’re new to the game. However, it all boils down to three basic gameplay mechanics – and it’s up to you to shuffle between them as different situations arise. The first function is the ground assault, where you send a handful of mercs to complete random missions on randomly generated maps. The levels would definitely benefit from more tileset variety but the engine is still able to churn out some interesting tile combos. Of course, you get to control your squad as they pursue their objective and cut through hordes of zombies, but we’ll get back to this a bit later. Sometimes, you’ll have no choice but to exterminate the entire population of the infected city via gunships. This is the second function – air strike. Assault helicopters fly to the selected node and wreak havoc. After the deed’s done, the third activity comes into play: the cleanup crew. By sending people in to completely clear the area of infection, you basically reset the node’s state to healthy, and you’re ready to move on to the next area. Of course, you’re free to balance as many operations at once as you wish, but focusing on a handful is usually the happiest solution.

And, basically, that’s all there is to it. Everything else is just there to add fluff and content to the basic system I’ve described above. But you won’t be spending that much time in the overworld anyway, since Global Outbreak has ground combat as its backbone. Upon your squad’s arrival to the given level, you take control over one of the couple of assigned soldiers. Using WASD and mouse, you move and attack, while your AI compatriots do the same by their own accord. Interestingly, your squaddies are usually more precise and less hesitant to shoot than you are, which often leads to AI-controlled men levelling up faster. Since I touched upon the subject, levelling your troops is a fairly simplistic task in this game, and besides changing the given character’s visual appearance, it slightly increases his stats, allows the usage of more advanced weaponry and unlocks new upgrades. But I digress.

The missions are played out from the isometric perspective, allowing good visual connection with what’s actually going on down in the trenches. The first couple of missions is fairly easy and short, but the difficulty ramps up quickly. It’s not that hard to keep two or three infected away at once, but double that number and you’ve got a serious problem at hand. The missions are of the classical variety, what with all the extermation, defense and escort tasks the game throws towards the player. Now, if you’ve played an isometric shooter of any kind, you have Global Outbreak’s ground assault covered. But what disappointed me in terms of gameplay is the severe lack of hit feedback this game displays. Lacking the better description, I can only say that while the guns are nicely balanced and powerful enough, killing zombies feels floaty at best. Even a simple hit-marker would help in making it more engaging, I believe. That’s not to say that combat isn’t capable of hooking you. Honestly, killing the walkers and moving troops across the infected cityscape reminded me heavily of Prototype’s Blackwatch, which is badass. The animations, however, leave much to be desired, and the game would be much more impactful had they been reworked. Thankfully, the visuals do look nice for a mobile game. Colours are vivid and work in tandem with the intensive shadows, leaving a very positive overall impression. Of course, the textures could be better, but none of them pop out too much, disregarding the one plastered to the globe. The sounds aren’t something to write home about, but aren’t too bad either. A mediocre effort, I’d say.

The story is best left undescribed, however. Now, it does work in the presented environment, but it’s practically nonexistant. The only reason I gave it a score at all is because it exists, mostly as an intro movie. But that’s not important in this game, really.

All in all, had Global Outbreak been built for PC from the ground-up, we would have a pretty great mash-up of systems that haven’t really been properly combined yet. This way, its roots seem to cut it down a couple of notches. Still, if you can handle a quirk here and there and like the basic premise, you shouldn’t have too much trouble playing the game.