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Extraction: Project Outbreak

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Break out the big guns

Product: Extraction: Project Outbreak | Developer: ShortRound Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Strategy | Players: 1 | File size: 77.4MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Extraction: Project Outbreak iPhone, thumbnail 1
Looking through the countless game retrospective articles on the net makes me feel somewhat alone.

In a world where everyone and their big sister seems to have sat together playing sugar-rush games like Sonic or Mario, I spent my teens carefully mowing down pedestrians in Syndicate, mourning the loss of Jops (he’d only just been promoted!) in Cannon Fodder, and wondering why Cannon Fodder 2 wasn’t quite as good, despite essentially being more of the same.

So you might want to forgive my unadulterated excitement when I first got my hands on Shortround’s debut title, the unfortunately generic-sounding Extraction: Project Outbreak.

Here is a game that channels the spirit of those Amiga classics through both its viewpoint and, in some parts, its execution.

Frustratingly, it doesn’t quite have the variety or depth to sit up there with the great action-strategy games of days gone by, but anyone who pines for a return of this virtually extinct genre are highly recommended to check it out.

Danger close

You play a nameless bad-ass working for a private military company (or PMC) tasked with keeping order in an exclusion zone that spans a favela, a swamp, and a huge prison complex.

The reason for the lock-down is revealed in mainly static cut-scenes during the game, but if I told you there were experiments of a highly unethical nature involved (and that the basic enemy essentially resembles a zombie) then you should guess the rest.

The campaign is fairly loosely structured, with multiple missions offered at once for the most part (except for very specific points in the story), each map randomly generated and taken from four basic mission types.

These range from your standard “kill x number of baddies”, to the more interesting “escort soldiers to their base”, "escort scientists", and the vicious “repair x gun emplacements” - the latter featuring some pretty tense moments as you desperately call in air support and sentry guns to protect the engineer.


But I’m rushing ahead of myself.

You see, the best bits about Extraction occur only after you’ve played the game for a good hour and unlocked some of the more exotic tools.

Before then, it's too easy and comes across a shallow bughunt - albeit one that controls so well it’s hard to imagine anyone attempting the same style of game without copying it.

As with Cannon Fodder and its ilk, you don’t have direct control over your character in the traditional sense, but rather you tap a location for him to move to.

What’s really clever is the firing mechanic, which works by letting you sweep your finger over the targets you want to aim at. These can be behind walls or outside the line of sight initally, so your character will just start firing when he can safely get a shot off.

Throw in a ‘skill shot’ system that allows you to pull off critical hits if you sweep at just the right speed (plus the ability to perform combos by tagging multiple enemies) and you’ll end up pushing through the slow start despite the lack of challenge.

Robot wars

But it’s when you finally have enough cash to purchase the fancier tools and face off against similarly armed enemies that Extraction starts to gain some real purpose.

Dropping a combat drone and dragging out a path for it to blast its way through is as easy as it is hilarious, while the sight of your helicopter smashing apart a horde of enemies with rockets as you cower in the corner is both beautiful and satisfying.

The difficulty finally starts kicking up a notch by the mid-game period, with time limits for levels becoming harsher and ammo running scarce, forcing you to think on your feet and improvise - like popping a sentry down just to distract the enemies as you leg it back to for evac with an empty clip.


Alas, with only four mission types (which you'll see many times before you complete the game) Extraction tires out before it reaches its conclusion.

In part this is down to the random nature of the maps. The graphics and animation are fantastic to look at, especially on the iPad, but because the levels are pre-fab locations slotted together it too often feels like you’re navigating the same maze as you did in the previous mission.

This doesn’t prevent Extraction: Project Outbreak from being a fun game, though - especially in short bursts. The controls feel so natural on a touchscreen that the thought of playing it with a mouse seems almost archaic.

It may not be a game that articles will be written about in 20 years' time by the next generation of younger brothers, but it’s certainly worth playing today.

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Extraction: Project Outbreak
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 24 November 2011
Slick and polished action-shooter. A little repetitive, but great fun when the different elements fit together
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