Gameplay is Renegade Ops‘ strongest point. (Which feels like it should be a given, considering it’s a videogame. In this day I often get the feeling gameplay takes a back seat to plot and graphics, as it attempts to pretend it isn’t a game we’re playing but an interactive movie.) For me, gameplay always comes first, because I like my games fast, fun, action-packed and challenging. I’m happy to report that Renegade Ops has all of these qualities in spades.
Gameplay-wise, Renegade Ops is like the top-down shooters of old, if you have ever played Jackal, or to a lesser degree Desert/Jungle/Urban Strike, you’ll probably feel right at home with Renegade Ops. The game uses a twin stick control method; the left stick is used to move while the right stick is for shooting and aiming. I found this control method easy to pick up and play, and I was plowing through hordes of enemies in no time.
You will take control of one of four ‘renegades,’ each with their own uniquely-handling vehicle and special ability, which is something you’ll be very grateful for as it’ll save your bacon on many occasions. The vehicles handle in a fun arcadey fashion and feel similar to the Warthog from Halo. As you destroy enemies you will also pick up weapon drops that upgrade your primary weapons and give you a limited secondary weapon such as a flamethrower or rocket launcher.
In Renegade Ops, the player earns points as they kill enemies, jump ramps and pull off kill combos, and these points can be spent on vehicle upgrades for your renegade of choice. When it comes to upgrading, there are three skill trees to choose from: one for health, another for weapons and the final for upgrading your special abilities. While I haven’t done so yet, I believe you can fill every skill tree to max at the same time on all characters.
The Renegades and their abilities are as follows:
Name – Roxy
Special Ability – Airstrike
Vehicle – Fast Jeep
Name – Gunnar
Special Ability – Heavy Gun
Vehicle – Heavy Jeep
Name – Diz
Special Ability – EMP
Vehicle – Armoured Truck
Name: – Armand
Special Ability – Shield
Vehicle – Tank
I should also mention that on special levels you will gain access to helicopters and take to the sky for even more firepower! Great fun!
Multiplayer in Renegade Ops consists of split-screen for two players, or up to four-player co-op online. This is where Renegade Ops really shines. The levels have an open-ended, sandbox feel to them and often have multiple objectives to complete, which gives you the choice of allowing your teammates to go off and do their own thing or tag along and destroy the enemy together through overwhelming firepower. Renegade Ops works beautifully in multiplayer and for this reason alone I would recommend this game to anyone. It’s just a blast.
So far I’ve played a number of online matches and I found it all quick and easy to get into a game. I encountered very little lag if any at all I didn’t notice it even when the screen was alive with bullets and explosions.
Music in Renegade Ops is subtle with a military theme. Honestly, I didn’t really notice it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It never really stood out but instead does a good job of setting the mood. In other words, it’s pretty forgettable and you won’t be rushing out to buy the OST but you won’t find fault with it either. The weapons and explosions, on the other hand, have some rather rich sound effects that add a nice punch and give the impression that you’re doing some real damage. The voice acting is a rather cheesy affair, but in my opinion at least, a good kind of cheese which wouldn’t be out of place in a Sega arcade game.
The game’s story is very simple, with a madman named Inferno threatening to nuke the capital cities of the world. With the world’s leaders unable and unwilling to act, a group of renegade warriors led by the defiant colonel Bryant vows to stop him. Shoot shoot, bang bang…
The story is told through comic book-style panels and in-game radio chatter between the main characters. It does a good job of setting the scene, making clear your objectives with a very cheesy ’80s vibe. I enjoyed it for what it was, but needless to say, Oscars won’t be won.
Make no mistake, this game is hard when playing single player. Even on ‘normal mode,’ you’re going to die often. I got the feeling the game was designed with multiplayer in mind. In fact, I shamefully had to turn the game to ‘casual mode’ to complete it in time for this review, which was rather depressing because I found ‘casual mode’ a little too easy and there wasn’t a middle ground between the two difficulty settings.
While playing on ‘normal mode,’ I had to restart levels a number of times and while there is a short unskippable cut scene at the start of each level (which I could have done without seeing multiple times), I didn’t find myself getting frustrated at all. This game is all about its gameplay and the fact that I could do the same missions over and over again without an ounce of irritation speaks for itself.
This game is beautiful! No doubt about it, the graphics in Renegade Ops are some of the best you will find in a XBLA/PSN download game. In fact, they have many retail games bested in this area. I believe that Avalanche Studios used the same engine that powers Just Cause 2, which is also a rather beautiful game! The textures are very detailed and the explosions (of which there are many) look fantastic.
I did, however, run into a graphical glitch where green anomalies appear on the screen for a split second but this was rare, and if my memory serves me correctly it happened three times and lasted only for a split second. It didn’t hinder the game at all, but I do hope it gets fixed with a patch.
How I would improve Renegade Ops
Every game ever made could be improved somehow, so if I was to suggest an improvement for Renegade Ops 2, I would like to see more varied level backgrounds. Many of the levels take place in scrubland or third-world ghetto type areas, be it Africa or South America, and there isn’t a whole lot of change until later in the game. I would have liked to see a snowy mountaintop, a cityscape or even middle-class American suburbs.
Another thing I would include is more varied gameplay. In the nine levels of Renegade Ops, almost all of it takes place in land-based combat. I would have liked some more helicopter sections and more vehicle variation, such as water-based combat on jet skis or speedboats. Maybe mounted cannons Space Invader-style, maybe even combat in outer space! Little things like the helicopter sections to break up the main land-based vehicle combat.
With Renegade Ops, Avalanche and Sega took the long dead top-down vehicle shooter genre from the ’80s and ’90s, gave it a brand new lick of HD paint, online co-op and beautiful graphics, and didn’t lose any of the addictive gameplay. Everything Avalanche set out to do I would say they accomplished with flying colours. I honestly recommend this game to anyone who wants to relive the good old days and have a blast doing it. At around $15.00, Renegade Ops is well worth the price of admission. Go get it!
- Addictive gameplay
- Beautiful graphics
- Old-school fun
- Great co-op
- A few minor glitches
- Could have used more varied backdrops
- Needed more types of vehicles
- Not long enough