And the game ends up feeling much the same--lots of potential, undeveloped. There's an interesting if overdone plot, promise of character development that never really goes anywhere, and gameplay which, while entertaining, is strictly derivative. Coupled with a difficulty level that jumps all over, Codename: Outbreak
is a hard game to recommend.
The story behind the game is very by-the-books: alien meteor crashes into Earth, investigation, death, inevitable alien beasties. The beasties, of course, can take control of humans, which means you won't just be fighting awful green things from outer space. You're a member of an elite squad of soldiers, and of course it's up to you to dive into the various infected areas and cleanse the world of the alien scourge.
The game plays like a slightly altered standard FPS. Before each mission you can pick your characters' loadouts, and even choose different people to bring along--each character has a specialization, with different statistics that can make them more or less useful for the task at hand. You can also choose whether you want to tackle the missions during the day or at night, which are different challenges. You and your squadmates will be put up against some serious opposition.
Once you're inside the missions, you control the characters very much like any other game in the genre. Instead of carrying ten different weapons (how do they do that, anyways?) you have one weapon that can handle all of the different weapons. It's kind of goofy, but it's the sort of thing that I've always wanted, so I suppose I can't knock it too much. And watching the little attachment pop out when you want to launch a rocket is pretty cool, I'll admit.
The missions themselves range from extermination to extraction, and the objectives can and do change while you're playing. There's lots of items littered about in the different areas, which can keep you up to date with the plot of the game or just add flavour to the experience. You and your teammate may need to practice stealth to get past a certain area, or it may be more efficient to just go in guns blazing. The choice is generally yours.
Unfortunately, the actual feel of the game leaves a lot to be desired. The enemy and companion AI leaves a lot to be desired, getting stuck on entirely too much in the environments, requiring way more finagling than it should. This interrupts what should be a swiftly-moving game experience, and can be very frustrating. Add to this the rather realistic damage system, which, while neat, is also frustrating in some of the more difficult spots. It's also hard to really appreciate whether or not the different stats make a difference; when you're controlling a character, they generally feel just like each other, and the AI is pretty dumb any which way.
Along with the dozen or so single-player missions, the game sports a multiplayer experience. The multiplayer is supported by Gamespy Arcade and internally; good luck finding people to play with, though. Along with typical game modes, you can play the game cooperatively, which is a nice touch.