I first learned about ShortRound Games' strategy/simulation/action game when it came across my desk in the form of a preview. Naturally I took a moment to look through and I immediately knew it was something that I would enjoy; after all, Global Outbreak: Doomsday Edition is a game that is after my own heart. I have mentioned in the past how much I loved the XCOM games (I so thoroughly enjoyed XCOM: Enemy Unknown that I bought a copy for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and on the PC) and Global Outbreak certainly takes inspiration from the XCOM game in some cases.
As you can imagine, I was a bit excited when I started up Global Outbreak, the feel, the look, everything screamed homage to XCOM; at least, I thought that it did. ShortRound Games is not making just a clone of the XCOM games, instead they are using a similar concept; here is the world, it is under attack (this time by a deadly pathogen, not necessarily aliens as they are in XCOM) and you manage the crisis on a global level. You do not really choose a home base in a particular continent, instead you place your first outpost nearest to any one of the dozen or so meteors that are peppering the earth. From there you try to manage the infestation, assaulting cities, providing back up or escorts for evacuees, and trying to clean up the toxic aftermath.
In between missions you will spend your earned dollars on new outposts, new aircraft, better weapons or more recruits; you will also be able to spend research to work your way through better weapons and armor. A neat little feature was that each individual unit would gain XP based on how well they did and how much they participated; you could then spend that XP to increase a particular skill, such as accuracy or recovery, allowing you to go through and micromanage your team's development. It is certainly a refreshing take on the concept and I hope to see more strategy-simulation games take a cue from Global Outbreak and do away with the linear unit upgrading paths and allow us to be far more critical of our choices.
While the stuff between missions is important and easily navigated, Global Outbreak's combat is where it is truly different from the rest of the strategy-simulation games like XCOM, Jagged Alliance, and Shadowrun Returns. Where those games are turn-based, ShortRound Games opted for a top-down action game akin to how it is seen in Hotline Miami or like Super Smash TV ( I loved that game ). With the top-down action and the need to conserve ammo, since you can really only carry what a normal human could carry in a real life situation, it can make for some awesome-ly hectic gunplay. I did find, though, that on occasion I would simply forget to purchase more magazines / rounds and I would be running around with a backup weapon that has no "kick" and unlimited ammo and it made everything about a hundred times harder than it should be (though, not by fault of the developers, but by my own inattentiveness).
As Global Outbreak: Doomsday Edition is still in Early Access on Steam (INSERT_LINK_HERE?) some gamers may not be too fond of investing into a game that has not been released yet, but with Global Outbreak the game is essentially complete; ShortRound Games are simply using this early access period to work strictly on issues brought up by *your* feedback. Personally I think that this is a great way to use the Early Access feature and it, to me, lends credibility to the developers as they are taking their audiences concerns and directly addressing them in the Early Access stage. I cannot think of a single developer that has done that to this day. Kudos, ShortRound Games, serious kudos. As the game is nearly complete and they are working more on the feedback that they receive in terms of difficulty settings, bugs, and whether the tutorials are helpful (or if additional resources are needed), when you purchase into the Early Access you truly are getting a full working game with minimal bugs in addition to being able to truly affect the development and essentially the final product.
For a game that truly honors the classics like XCOM, ShortRound Games' Global Outbreak: Doomsday Edition brings something completely new to the table while building upon the strategy-simulation genre's standard tropes. The time that I have spent in game, smiting these infested and grotesque "Zompods" has been a blast; the tense yet methodical global strategy and risk management is perfectly offset by the fast-paced and chaotic action of the top-down close-quarters combat of the ground game. It truly is a unique experience and one that I believe fans of both the strat/sim and action-RTS genres should invest in. I will certainly be keeping Global Outbreak in my sights as time marches towards their full release.
Preview by Robert