Renegade Ops ReviewJosh Vanhorn
I can't shake the feeling of nostalgia Renegade Ops gives me regarding an old NES title called Jackal. If you've never had the privilege of playing this 25-year-old classic, well... you're probably just a bit younger than me. If you happen to be familiar with Jackal and for some reason have yearned for a modern version of the title, you're in some luck.
Renegade Ops is brought to us by the creators of Just Cause, Avalanche Studios. It's a top-down twin-stick shooter that puts you in control of one of four vehicles being driven by - you guessed it - the Renegades. The only real similarities you'll find here when comparing Renegade Ops to Just Cause come in the form of destructible environments. You'll be plowing through buildings and smashing parked cars as you turbo around the large expanse of each of the 9 missions. Admittedly, it's a blast destroying whatever lies in your path as you chase down the madman known as Inferno. And you'll enjoy the beauty of the landscapes and explosions along the way. The downside is that all missions play basically the same.
You can certainly expect to blow things up. A lot of things. Other than that, you'll be required to chase after key cards, escort vehicles, deliver cargo, but in reality all of these just lead to obliterating more enemies. It's never quite enough to give you the sense that you're not repeating the same objectives over and over, especially if you're playing alone. The final mission does throw a couple new things into the mix, but it only serves to show what could have been in the eight missions prior. There are quick-time events that will have you hammering the X or A button depending on the system you're gaming on, but these are hardly worth mentioning.
Thankfully online or split-screen multiplayer is an option. And whether playing with friends or strangers, Renegade Ops becomes a more enjoyable experience when shared with others. Even over a month after release, finding a game online isn't much trouble. This says a lot for the quality of the game considering the plethora of downloadable titles out there that often lose their online community shortly after release.
Even though you'll be working as a team in multiplayer, the game tracks points for all participants and ranks them from highest score to lowest upon the completion of each level, creating a competitive aspect to go along with the cooperative. Play with three or four people on normal mode and you'll have no trouble getting through the game, which is why I recommend upping the difficulty to hardcore if you have a large group. This will ensure a challenge for everyone and keep the more nomadic players from rushing ahead and separating from the team.
While not a huge deal, there is no reverse for your vehicle of choice. There will be times where you run head-on into a piece of the environment and are forced to wait a couple seconds before the game allows you to back up. This becomes more of an adverse factor during the moments you slam your breaks to stop just short of a drop-off, only to find your only choice is to attempt a quick 180 where odds are you'll end up propelling yourself off the edge you just saved yourself from. Often this will result in respawning just a little way from the action, but there are times when this leads to the loss of a valuable life, especially if you're playing hardcore mode.
There's a leveling system particular to each character broken into three columns of skills: defensive, offensive, and tactical. The defensive and offensive columns are the same for all four selectable characters, however the order in which you unlock certain abilities will be different. The tactical column represents the character's special ability. This is different for each character and will probably be where you put most of your points as you begin to go up in level.
Renegade Ops delivers a shallow story through comic book-style presentation that probably won't suck you in, but at least it's there. The sound effects are explosive, sound wonderful, and the menu music has an Unreal Tournament vibe to it. The game will last you 4 to 6 hours, depending on if you stop to destroy every enemy on the screen and whether or not you decide to take up every side mission. And there are four leaderboards for each mission to compete against the world in, depending on how many players helped you to complete a level.
I'd love to give Renegade Ops a higher score. I love twin-stick shooters and I love Avalanche Studios. However, as it is, I can't help but wish for more from the game. It's a ton of fun to play with friends, and I would recommend it to anyone with an extra $15 to spend, but its downfalls keep it from being a must-download title, if only barely.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.