Extraction: Project Outbreak
A disease has spread amongst the population, and the ensuing pandemic threatens world peace. Your mission is to control the disease by force. The mission is to eradicate all diseased individuals running rampage through the streets . . .
This free universal game by Chillingo is certainly original. Although it’s not an easy game to master, as the controls are quite different to the norm. The developers have tried to keep it to just one finger move, click and swipe actions. Whilst this is good in one way, it does require a learning curve and can make this game frustrating to play at first. I love the main menu screen where you have to press and input your finger print in order to gain access to the game. Okay it’s not a real finger print scanner, but it creates the illusion of one. You can have up to three profiles running at the same time, so if you have friends or a partner, you can both take turns without resetting the game.
In the game you are part of the ‘Blackhorne’ strike force extraction team to carry out the mission. The opening graphic mini-clips are impressive and the audio is movie-like. When you are set down for your first mission in amongst burning debris from your downed plane, up pops a message that ‘They are much stronger than we thought, let’s get out of here’. You are then given a bird’s eye view of your environment and a map button to navigate your way to the extraction point. You single tap to move your character around. You can choose your weapon and have to reload manually. There are also a limited amount of grenades you can use as well as being able to pick up ammo and health packs along the way.
To kill enemies you can swipe across multiple targets to shoot them in turn. It is wise to backtrack whilst shooting tough enemies or multiple hostiles as if they reach you it can seriously damage your health. The detail in this game is amazing as you have birds flying overhead and even some of the game buttons are animated with a moving light sheen. To reload you press the gun icon and if you swipe and kill a group of enemies you are awarded extra points for a ‘chain kill’. You have to get the hang of the grenades, as if you throw them too short over doors they blow up back in your character’s face. The longer you drag the higher the grenade will be flung. Normally the doors that you can pass through are coloured a reddish-pink, sometimes it is confusing which door you need to go through, so it is a good idea to tap on the map button every now and again which will give you a clue as to the direction you’re headed in. The doors on the map are indicated with a yellow double arrow.
If you melee attack an enemy up close, it takes a bit of getting used to as you need to swipe over the enemy multiple times, but not too slow or too fast. There is a green bar that indicates how well you are keeping to the required melee speed. To get an idea in the game where the exits are you will see the same yellow arrows as you can see on the map, but they are on the corners of the screen. Again, when you shoot it’s good to go back on your tracks or around in circles to avoid getting up close to the infected inhabitants.
Again, this game can be a little confusing at first as to add to the complexity there are even special ‘kill shots’ that you can execute. To execute a kill shot you need to swipe over one of your targets slowly, but not too slowly. For this you need to have time on your hands, which you don’t have a lot of in this fast paced game. Remember that once you drag over an enemy and your character is busy disposing of the target, you are free to tap anywhere on the screen to evade or move around. This action doesn’t cancel the taking down of the enemies around you.
When you reach the end of the level you will see red signal smoke from a flare. Here you have to manually call in the helicopter to come and rescue you by tapping on the red ‘Extraction Available’ button at the top of the screen. After each level you will be shown a wall with news items occurring from the result of your previous mission and an update on the pandemic. After this, you can choose to select ‘Upgrades’ to upgrade or buy weapons. Here you can also purchase credits which finances the game and makes it available to everyone for free.
On the ‘Mission Select’ options map, you will see a whole host of different missions. This game is very generous with levels. You just select the next zone and your objective comes up. In zone one for example, you are given the objective to kill 12 enemies to bring the region back under control. If you tap on an area of the map that is impossible to move to, a beeping sound occurs. You also have in-game character upgrades that occur when you have enough points, when this happens, click on the green upgrade button and select the ability upgrade you need. For instance, you can have an armour, speed, melee or gun skill upgrade. I found the speed upgrade the most useful for me, as you have to keep moving, if you stay in one place you get overrun.
Throughout the game there is intel to find which you’ll see under a light blue laptop-like icon. It’s not essential to find these to pass a mission but it is a good challenge all the same. Sometimes you have to kill certain enemies who will be indicated with a bright blue hue to get them to set their intel on the ground, in order for you to be able to pick it up. If you find intel you are awarded with 500 extra credits, along with credits for a 100% mission completion status. When your reputation goes up you will be awarded yet more credits too. The game will give you a one word summing up of your performance, such as ‘Outstanding!’ once you have passed a zone stage.
The amount of weapons to buy and upgrade is astounding . . . there are G36s, SPAS-12s, Droid Guns, MG4s and AA12s to choose from for the mission, to name but a few. Getting back from the gun purchase and upgrade screen to the mission select screen could be clearer, to do this you have to press the ‘Player Stats’ button and then ‘Misson Select’. When your reputation rises you are given stripes for your character. Quite amazingly, after seeing all of the different mission zones in the game, I was even more astounded to find out that there are missions within mission zones too. I couldn’t see on the App Store description page just how many missions there are, but I could see that it took one reviewer 4-5 hours to fully complete the game.
You have a primary weapon and a sidearm secondary weapon. For both of these you can buy extra ammo. The specs of each gun are laid out before launching each mission, such as damage and firing rate etc. One thing I do like about the game is that once you are air dropped into a hostile zone it doesn’t all of a sudden go bonkers without giving you time to think. Instead, you are set down in a compound and have to open a door before the anarchy starts dancing around you in the form of infected zombie like characters. Watch out for those health and ammo packs as they can be easily missed in the mayhem. The level of detail in the game is amazing, there are particle effects such as sparks and even vehicles and detailed houses. You can pinch zoom to zoom in or out. A handy tip to know is that if you double tap you can cancel your target lock on enemies. Remember to use your grenades. I use mine up at the beginning as I’m terrible for forgetting them and then kick myself at the end of games, when I realize that I have all my grenades left and could have made life easier for myself.
On the second mission you have to rescue a scientist and keep him alive. It’s worth keeping in mind that the extraction point is often the point where you are set down in the first place, but sometimes it is not and is instead a different area altogether. Interestingly, I didn’t have to call for my extraction ride on the second level when I rescued the scientist, perhaps they were on the ball and circling the area? One thing that can confuse you is how to buy a more sophisticated weapon as it is padlocked on the upgrades screen. Well, you can buy it by swiping to the far right of the screen on the gun upgrades screen. You’ll see it there at the end. I personally waited till I had over the amount needed so that I could instantly upgrade the new weapon as it seemed a shame to abandon a totally upgraded weapon for a weapon with no upgrades, even if it is more advanced.
Inside a the mission zone, a green pulsating indicator and a red pulsating indicator is used for missions yet to be undertaken. Let’s talk some more about the ‘kill shot’ as this is difficult to understand, let alone to master. When you swipe over an enemy there is a green block at the top of the screen and a red line indicates your swipe speed, too slow and the red line will go beyond the green meter and too fast will force the red line to come up short, not attaining a kill shot in either case. You can nail this with feel rather than by visually looking up at the meter every time. Just look up at it a few times so that you can get the feel of the speed needed, neither too slow nor too fast.
As mentioned in the video review it is pretty neat the way that mini video snippets are presented in letter-boxed widescreen mode. That way you can see clearly that there is nothing to do and you can sit back and watch the mini-clip and relax. It also gives it a movie style type of feel between levels. Another tip is to not pick up health packs willy-nilly. Instead, if you already have full health, just note where the packs are and pick them up when your health is running low.
When you get a ground mounted gun, don’t do what I initially did, and that was just plonk it on the ground without knowing how to point it in the right direction. Just press, hold and rotate the green triangle to point it in the required direction.
Some levels have a time limit, but it is good that there are some chilled out levels where there is no time limit and you can relax a bit. A nice mix of styles there by the developer. Also, upgrading a gun doesn’t always mean that it’s more effective. For instance, a lot of guns may have a high fire power rate but are not accurate, forcing the green ‘kill shot’ bar to reduce in size. There are a few guns that are very difficult to get a skill/kill shot with. Pick your weapons in regard to the type of mission you are about to undertake.
If you are playing well, the game will ask you whether you want to put the game into ‘Hardcore Mode’. I never accepted this as I don’t believe in being stressed out playing a game that is too hard, but it’s a neat option that the developer has put in there. There are drone planes later on in the game and you can upgrade their blast radiuses.
One annoying thing that I would like to see changed in the game is the fact that once you’ve set down your automatic firing ground based machine guns you can accidentally move the turret easily. This is because when multiple enemies come at you, you are swiping all over the place and move the turrets by accident when you swipe across the green triangle. Maybe the developer could incorporate a double tap condition to lock the turret angle in place and then a double tap again to unlock them?
In a nutshell, this game takes time to learn and will frustrate many players. However, if you have time on your hands and become familiar with the game it is a very good game indeed. So get to the mission with Project Outbreak!