I started off by playing Global Outbreak as I do with any other title I review. I download, start following the on-screen prompts and hope that the game doesn’t suck. I’ve got about a 50/50 chance that the game will be pretty good, and a very tiny chance of the game being magnificent. The problems with unoriginality and repeated design that have plagued MMORPGs and social games have infected mobile gaming as well. The simple truth is that most designers know more about coding than they do about making an original product that is also fun.
Now, as this point you might expect me to say that Global Outbreak is both original and fun. Well, it’s pretty darn fun but hardly original. More zombies. More elite troops. More “extraction points” and research points. We’ve seen this all before. Even though the game is supposed to offer some sort of real-world interaction that bases things on a player’s real-life location, I hardly see any evidence of it, nor did I care. There were zombies to kill, after all, and outbreaks were happening all around the world. What do I care where my neighborhood ranks in all of this?
The fun part comes from the pretty unique control scheme in the game. You tap on the screen and your squad moves around. As they move and are attacked by zombies, you simply swipe across the screen to attack. If you are attacked by a large group your swipe can connect all of them together and you get a “chain bonus” for selecting them all. To throw a grenade you simply touch and hold the grenade and swipe to where you want it to go. The little army person throws the grenade. It’s quite a neat way to control a mobile game, one that allows for one-handed play while the other hand holds up the device.
The main issue is that, while swiping, your hand can block the screen and make it difficult to see where you are swiping or pointing to. Squads can also get stuck behind buildings and that can lead to a precious few seconds being taken away. It’s a minor quibble, but it’s still annoying.
As you slowly move around the globe extinguishing outbreaks you gain money and research points to spend on better skills and equipment. Honestly I saw no real difference after upgrading… the game is relatively easy, at least earlier on. The zombies and the outbreaks start coming in at a much higher rate so the difficulty stems more from control than enemy AI, but the game fills the role it seems it was trying to fill; as an action-based tactical squad-based shooter thing. With zombies. For your mobile device. It works.
Sure, I’m about as sick of the zombie genre as obviously no other gamer is, but I still like a good action game when I can get my hands on it. Global Outbreak does a pretty good job with ramping up the excitement, although it doesn’t explain itself very well. Sometimes the heat gets turned up a bit too early but it’s nothing that some good machine guns can’t handle. I like the art style even though it’s been seen a million times. It looks good on the smaller screen. Controls are fun and moving through missions offers some pretty intense moments. Here’s hoping that the game shows some variety later on, though, because I can only stomach killing the same zombies for so long.
I like the fact that the game can be paused and came back to later. I can’t really handle that constant siren going off in my ear or the cries of destruction that slowly spread around the world. The ironic thing is that when you get past all of the noise and end-of-the-world soundtrack, combat is relatively easy going most of the time. If the developers had spread the excitement out a bit more, smoothed the whole experience out and slowly turned up the heat instead of throwing you into the middle of a boiling flesh bath then I would have enjoyed it more. Maybe it’s me, though? Maybe I’m too old to care if some city up North is being destroyed. After all, I’m only one small squad of elite killers… can’t those countries hire their own?