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It's understandable for someone to want to make a cheap, quality shooter, especially considering how most games in the genre usually go for about $40 and up these days. However, you have to make sure that your game has something to offer, or it'll be forgotten quickly. "Scourge: Outbreak," the latest from UFO Interactive, had a unique opportunity to swoop in and snag a few fans with an interesting story and a few multiplayer options. Unfortunately, with lackluster gameplay and even worse graphics, it fails to even rise to the level of "average."

Users play as a group of soldiers known as Echo Squad, who suddenly find themselves in the midst of turmoil when their fellow squadmates at Alpha Squad turn on them, all for the sake of gaining power. With the help of an undercover agent, you vow to get back at these treacherous snakes.

The revenge motive helps set the basis for a good game, but "Scourge: Outbreak" never reaches that point. First up, it lacks genuine character development. You never really care for any of the Echo Squad team members, nor do you get caught up in their quest for revenge. Secondly, the story doesn't hold any surprises. You never really feel any sort of compelling reason to soldier on. There aren't even any unintentional laughs here -- it's like a SyFy movie without the fun.

There are technical problems galore as well. The game takes way too long to load, up to about two minutes for each level. We're in a day and age where development teams have been able to process great graphics with minimal loading times, so this is a cardinal sin. And once the game does get going, it's an ugly mess. It indicates in the beginning that it utilizes the Unreal Engine, but you never really see any signs of it. Environments are ugly; character animations are minimal; there are bugs all over the place; and even the zoom-in view doesn't do you any good.

The same could be said for the quality of the audio. The voice acting is generic at best, and the music fails to motivate. Like I said, it's like everything you'd expect in a really bad sci-fi production but without the joy of being able to poke fun at it. "Scourge: Outbreak" takes itself way too seriously.

It can't even deliver the goods in gameplay. The lackluster shooting controls are terrible, and half of the time your bullets don't even make contact with the enemy. There are minimal rewards for when you do hit them, but they're not worth reaping. You can't even melee properly. Really?

The single player mode has nothing to offer, and, sadly, neither does multiplayer. There was barely anyone on the servers during our playtime, and the matches are made up of mostly generic options like Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch. Worse yet, when we did get a match going, the glitches set in even further, and we could barely complete a round without rolling our eyes and wishing we had played "Gears of War" instead.

"Scourge: Outbreak" qualifies as one of the worst games of the year. It offers nothing new to the genre with its boring story, lackluster visuals and bad controls. If you must have multiplayer action on the cheap, go after "Gears of War 2." It's like $3 at GameStop, and you get far more quality out of that than you ever would out of this mess.

Score: 1.5

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