Codename: Outbreak is a mix of tactical shooter combat action and stealth covert ops in a b-movie style plot, which has seen a Class-C comet leaving Earth decimated by meteors, and huge craters.
Alien spores are mutating living creatures, and are even attacking humans, including the scientists who were investigating what had happened, whilst trying to remove the alien threat.
Playing as a member of the armed forces, you have to investigate what's happened to the scientists and police officers. Action takes place over 13 levels, and they are all pretty varied, ranging from huge sprawling outdoor levels to more compact indoor lab style areas.
To help you through the levels you have a computer controlled team mate, and this part of the game seems to work fairly well in most cases - he'll take orders, cover you, and fire at enemies, like a real human being. However on a couple of occasions he did appear to totally ignore our orders and walk around looking all rather lost.
Your team mate can sometimes prove to be more of a hindrance than a help though, and on a few occasions would be found being stuck at the bottom of a ladder, or simply being stubborn not wanting to follow the same path that you've been taking - a few zaps with the laser gun made him jump, but still not want to co-operate.
Graphics are a bit of a mix - some of the graphics are very detailed, for instance if you look down at you're feet, you'll see that there's highly detailed grass textures, rocks and trees, making it all look very real. However some of the other graphics, such as the water, seem very plain and seem to use quite dated methods. However, the game still manages to work well on lower spec machines, and with such huge level maps, the slight lower level of detail in the graphics is something which you can learn to live with.
Codename: Outbreak is a very complicated game, with a storyline which appears very difficult to follow - maybe it was because I had review code and no manual to gleam details from, but really I feel the game is too difficult to simply pick up and play one evening. You'll need plenty of time to not only work your way through the levels, but also beat the opposition forces who are all too happy to shoot you with a sniper rifle.
The enemies are also very alert to your every move - they can not only see you moving, but also hear you rustling through leaves, and twigs breaking on the floor - this makes for very tense gameplay, and every footstep you take is edge-of-seat action. Luckily you can tune in to hear enemy radio signals, so if played well you'll be able to pre-judge some of their manoeuvres.
Most of the game could be described as being very realistic and simulation like, but when the chase is on, music breaks in, and seems quite arcade in style. However, it all adds atmosphere to the action, and makes your heart beat almost as fast as the music.
However, where there's these arcade style chases, you also have to deal with missions where you need to collect notepads, personal computers, and other objects such as security cards, which are literally scattered all over the place - this doesn't make for an easy game to play, and it becomes very very frustrating. What's more, some of the items that you are looking for are so small and in such strange places that you'll probably never find them unless you've got bags of time and want to scour the whole level.
Despite the annoyingly hard missions, and the fact that there's some slightly iffy AI with your team mate, Codename: Outbreak does have some very nice features, and is good fun as far as the combat and tactics are concerned. Sadly however the full potential hasn't been taken advantage of, and it feels the whole game could have been made a lot more enjoyable if the problems were ironed out.Overall score: 6 out of 10
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Players: 1 plus LAN/online multiplayer
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: NowBuy Codename: Outbreak from Amazon