My history with competitive FPS games is quite lengthy, starting all the way back in the days of Counter Strike 1.6. Since then, I’ve jumped from game to game, like Battlefield 2 and Modern Warfare 1.
However, I hit a certain point where the “new” FPS games I was playing all felt like simple re-releases of their respective predecessors, and the genre lost its appeal to me.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that titles like Battlefield, Call of Duty and even Counter Strike feel like they just continuously tread on proven grounds time and time again.
While many are hopeful Titanfall will be the title to answer their prayers for a new brand of FPS, a little known title called “Insurgency” makes its debut as a standalone release to challenge what we expect from the genre.
At first, I thought Insurgency was a bad game. It crashed within the first five minutes of my time with it as I was going through the tutorial and worse yet, when I attempted to get back into the tutorial, it put me in a game with only myself and no one else then simply told me to wait for players to join.
Instead of waiting with my thumb up my ass, I left and went into play mode to search for a game.
It didn’t take me long to get into a match, but without knowing what I needed to do or the layout of the map, all I managed to accomplish in the first few rounds was to take out my own teammate and get killed repeated without even knowing where I was being shot from.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there was no crosshair, ammo count or map on the UI and all of the loadouts for the guns had no indication of their effectiveness. There was also no indication to let me know who I killed or who I was killed by, which was more of a jarring omission than I anticipated it to be.
Suffice to say, it was incredibly frustrating and devoid of any semblance of fun.
If I wasn’t reviewing this title, which would’ve been the end of it, and it most likely would’ve been uninstalled right then and there.
Luckily, I went back to the game the day after with my trusty headphone and mic combo, and the more I talked and listened to my fellow teammates, it all started to click little by little.
This was a title that required a different mental state than that of if I were playing Call of Duty, Battlefield or even Counter Strike. It was one of patience, teamwork and intense concentration.
Given there was no immediate respawns, each firefight felt intense, and I found myself doing things like moving while prone through the bushes, which is something I would basically never do considering how long it takes to get anywhere that way.
Mic communication was limited to only the teammates in my immediate vicinity, and there was no way of knowing how many of my enemies were left alive, so I was left wondering at all times whether we were on the brink of defeat or on the hunt for the lone survivor.
It’s due to the lack of information provided by the UI that teamwork and communication becomes key to success, and the difference between a team that’s working as a unit and a bunch of individual wannabe rambos was night and day.
It’s fascinating that the rather minimalist presentation becomes a driving force that forces players to work with each other, and it works splendidly.
The game modes are broken up into tactical operations which tend to be smaller, quicker skirmishes like search and destroy, where there are defenders and attackers.
Whenever an objective was destroyed, it would trigger a respawn for all the players that were dead, while the attackers were under a strict time limit to accomplish their goal.
Firefight had multiple domination-like points which must be all taken, or one team wiped out completely to end the round. Given that when a point is taken, it triggers a respawn for the team that took the objective, it sets up for rather interesting scenarios for comebacks that aren’t present in titles like Counter Strike, where respawns only happen in between rounds in all competitive modes.
Each player is given a choice to pick a role that starts out with a specific load out that can be customized with supply points, which are static across the board.
It’s also worth noting that to destroy an objective, an explosive weapon like an RPG or C4 is required, so at least one or two players must choose to sacrifice a few supply points to pick up the necessary equipment.
Weapon kits can be swapped during respawns, so it’s possible to test a variety of load outs relatively quickly, and it didn’t take long for me to find a combination that worked well for me.
Sustained combat was a series of modes not too unlike the ones present in tactical operations, but to a larger scale with more objectives. While both modes offered an intense experience, I preferred the more focused nature of tactical operations.
Lastly, there was Co-op vs AI, but I found it to be the least interesting as the beauty of a title like Insurgency is in its competitive nature, and the AI simply doesn’t cut it as replacement for people no matter how good their aim is.
While Insurgency isn’t the greatest looking FPS, it presents itself fairly well and even though it suffers from a few minor graphical and clipping bugs, at the bargain price of $14.99, it’s a hard price to turn down for what it offers.
Those tired of the main stream Michael Bay FPS offerings can try Insurgency in confidence, with the knowledge they’re about to play a different brand of FPS.
Fun Tidbit – A headphone and mic is nearly a must to properly play this title and is highly recommended.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.