Explosions, comic books, rogue military elements, RPGs and punk rock chicks. Apparently there was someone out there in the world who decided to try and cram my childhood desires into a video game, now I’m holding out for someone to make my teenage years into a movie and I can reap the royalties for life.
Renegade Ops is an interesting little title. Now with the 7th generation of gaming lazing around in it’s veterancy, it’s not hard to see that the modern FPS is currently dominating the market. Renegade Ops seeks to break up the monotony with a classic genre re-imagined in the new age. Top down shooters are a genre of video game that blossomed on the PC some 15 years ago and receded as consoles became the mainstay of the video gaming industry. Recent years have seen them getting more and more popular again, and Renegade Ops looks to top the list.
There’s a few things that set Renegade Ops apart from the smattering of other games in the same genre, and one of them is it’s availability. I was recently taken by the Alien Breed reboot and Steam’s free title: Alien Swarm, but these games aren’t regarded nearly as much for one reason or another. Renegade Ops however is making a splash on the front pages of Steam, Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. Sega want people to know about this latest release and they’re making sure of it.
Being set in a modern day setting is also a psuedo-pro for it. Since it’s not sci-fi or fantasy, it can appeal to a broader range of audiences. The comic book-esque artwork and storyline are also more approachable for people. Add in all the military elements and the recent success of Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honour etc and you’ve got a game that could potentially sit up there with those giants.
I can ramble on about what makes Renegade Ops great for a while, but since this is a review I’d best delve into the game itself. Unless you guys want to read 2,000 words of me applauding marketing techniques? You don’t want to? Oh well, I tried.
Twin analog sticks (Or equivalent thereof) are quintessential to console design apparently, a fact that Renegade Ops takes advantage of. A nice simple concept: Left analog controls movement, right analog controls gunfire. Other buttons occasionally activate special weapons. In practice, this simple set-up is easy to learn, easy to master. A novice may find themselves often shooting wildly in random directions, but it doesn’t take long to associate the movement of the vehicle with the direction the gun is firing.
The missions start out with you choosing a pilot from one of 4 (5 if you’re playing on Steam) characters, each with their own unique vehicle and special power. Each of them also has a talent tree style level up system. Once they’re out in the field, you gain experience from racking up destructive combos or just blowing stuff up. Once you hit a pre-ordained amount of XP, you receive a token to go toward that character’s talent tree. Fully levelling all of the characters takes time and dedication.
The levels themselves are quite large, giving you various routes to reach your objective and the choice to drive wildy round buildings or smash straight through them for frontal assaults.
There was a small problem with the level design I found about mid-way through the first level; the terrain seemed to pose more of a threat to my vehicle and strategies than the enemy controlled vehicles. The wild driving “skills” of my selected pilot made the vehicle swing around, a lot. I’d frequently fall off bridges, slam into walls or drive straight past the enemy I was trying to gun down and wind up running them over instead.
On normal and easy difficulties, health and ammo packs were so abundant that I didn’t have to worry about sustained damage, I was just being careful to make sure I didn’t drive face first into the doom tanks that were so eager to rip me apart.
Unlocking talent points also felt like a chore, rather than a reward. 10 minutes into my first game and I’d already levelled up 3 times. I could easily get access to the benefits of my talent tree, I just had to put up with a few minutes of gameplay first.