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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Published By: BITBOX S.L.
Developed By: Tragnarion Studios
Genre: Action
Players: 1-4
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: April 9, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Price: $19.99 (STEAM)
Written By: Anthony Cara

May 12, 2010 - Featuring explosions, countless fast-flying bullets, alien technology, and squad-based co-op game play, The Scourge Project by Spain’s Tragnarion Studios infects Steam with its own brand of third-person shoot’em up gaming.

The Scourge Project: Episode 1 and 2 doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the 3rd person over-the-shoulder shooter genre but it does provide some decent quality action for enthusiasts of the genre. Like many lesser known PC games it suffers from lack of an active online community so, unless you have a dedicated group of friends with which to play… you are unfortunately going solo. Unfortunate, because your AI team mates didn’t exactly graduate Magna Cum Laude from combat training school…

As you begin your campaign, you are invited to select your character. Unlike some squad based games, you cannot freely switch between characters, so you are stuck with your choice for the length of the game. What’s quite innovative here is that each character has a unique story that accompanies the game’s primary story line. From time to time, you will go inside your character’s mind and view all their dirty little secrets. If you are playing online co-op mode, everyone will enjoy a different sub-plot! If you wish to enjoy the full story, you will have to play the game once with each character- which is not entirely unreasonable since the game takes just 3-5 hours to complete (depending on how often you die…).

The main story behind The Scourge Project is that in a quite dystopian bloody apocalyptic future, a massive corporation known as Nogari holds a monopoly over a hot genetic commodity known only as “Ambrosia.” A group known as The Tarn Initiative decides to fight against this bloodthirsty corporation and sends in a man named Dr. Reisbeck to work as a mole and deliver a decisive blow from the inside. Unfortunately, the plan does not go as anticipated and an unexpected betrayal from your own organization quickly turns this into an extraction mission with the life of Dr. Reisbeck and possibly the future of the world at stake! As you delve deeper into the Nogari complex, you also begin to discover there is more to your team mates (and the good doctor) than meets the eye. Each has his or her own sordid past and each have hidden agendas that slowly come unraveled throughout the adventure.

The game play is solid enough, but at times a bit awkward. I had the opportunity to experiment both with the mouse and keyboard and also with a gamepad (Xbox 360 Wireless Remote to be precise). I must say, though this opinion is often an unpopular one- the game seemed smoother with the game pad! Either way the controls are quite intuitive. If you have played any FPS games before, I can assure you this: each button does pretty much exactly what you think it does! Bumper or “R” is for reload, “Y” or mouse scroll is to switch weapons, “WASD” or “Left Analog” to move, etc. If this isn’t to your liking, you can change these at any time.

You progress through levels by moving between objective checkpoints and killing enemies along the way. Occasionally you may have to work your way around simple puzzles, but for the most part you just have to run, gun, and hack the occasional control panel. At various moments you will be ambushed by enemies and have to fight your way out. Unfortunately, your team mates’ AI is about as smart as a bag of rocks – and not just any bag of rocks, the rocks at the bottom of their class that can’t even get jobs in the rock-based-fast-food industry… You see- you and your team mates die… a lot. And as long as you get revived (or do the reviving yourself) before anyone has a chance to bleed out, all is well. But sometimes, that’s not so simple. There have been moments when I would rush ahead to meet the enemy, die pitifully, and then with no regard for their own lives, my teammates would rush to revive me without even addressing the enemies that were inches away from their faces and blasting them to bits. Needless to say, we would eventually become a line of dead bodies that tried reviving the person before us. Somehow the AI always manages to top itself in stupidity, and this is no exaggeration. At one point, I think Echo Squad’s commander decided to re-enact a humorous Steve Carell scene from Anchorman as he quite literally ran around the battlefield doing nothing but holding a live, beeping grenade in his hand. What’s worse is he did so as he came to rescue me. So yeah… he revives me…then drops the grenade right next to us… brilliant.

Now, at this point, I must give a great deal of credit to Tragnarian Studios- they listen to gamers’ complaints and have provided us with a sweet list of fixes to expect in the next patch. What follows is actually going to save some time in my review because I would have otherwise had to address each of these individually:
  • Skipable Cutscenes & Movies
  • Performance boost
  • AI Improvements (suicides, etc, etc, ...)
  • Use key problems and action order
  • Grenade Launcher problems
  • Fixed video options
  • Mouse sensitivity
  • ForceFeedback for Gamepad
  • Missing key bindings
  • Multiplayer colored names
  • Minor bugfixes
  • Weapon Shells (empty bullet called by someone )
  • Pickup problems
  • Server configuration issues in server travel
  • Quick-Order-System: posibility to give qoss orders correctly where you are aiming while incapacitated
  • Sound crashes when configured over 48kHz
  • No Sound when configured with a not supported speaker configuration (7.1 and quadraphonic)

On the promise that these issues will be fixed, it seems difficult for me to say anything about them other than that they are all currently HUGE problems with an otherwise acceptable game.

The graphics are actually better than expected from a download only game. They are pretty much on par with your average current generation PC visual flair- but not exactly graphical boundary defying. To give you a good idea of what to expect- the game uses the Unreal Engine 3.The sound is a bit irritating and consists of some cheesy voice acting and a lot of “pew pew” and “kaboom” action. As far as extras go, the game also features a few unlockable achievements (which may entice those who are into that sort of thing) and also PVP multiplayer modes (though you will have to find people with which to fight!).

The game is not a terrible start to a new IP, but on the whole, the experience of The Scourge Project feels like just that- a project. It lacks the “complete” feeling most gamers expect and it seems more like a prototype/beta to a game that has yet to arrive. Perhaps future patches or Episode(s) 3-4 may address some of these concerns and evolve this franchise into a fine shooter for this generation.


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