Renegade Ops is a top down shooter developed by Avalanche Studios and Published by Sega. The game involves driving a vehicle belonging to one of four available characters through the 9 missions in order to save the world from an evil scientist in either singleplayer or co-op.
Renegade Ops pays homage to the top down shooters of the arcades and it does reach that in spirit but it also incorporates various design ideals from modern games. All of this is brought to you via the Avalanche Engine 2.0 which brings the high quality graphics that were used in Just Cause 2 to Renegade Ops; making it one of the most powerful downloadable titles out there.
The story begins with a man named Inferno destroying a city and telling the UN that he will destroy more cities like this unless his demands are met. It’s at this point General Bryant comes in and demands to be able to take down Inferno, he then quits when he realises that the politicians will just sit around and try to talk things out. From there he creates the Renegades which consist of 4 ex-military types who go to war solely from vehicles. The story takes you through all sorts of environments; from forests, to deserts, to beaches and to secret bases.
Each mission will usually have a primary and an optional objective. Primary objectives must always be completed within the time limit or before you lose all you lives otherwise its game over. Primary objectives won’t show you the time limit until there are 3 minute remaining, upon which the screen will go greyscale, time will slow and a big red timer will appear at the bottom of the screen. After a brief few seconds the colour and time return to normal and all that is left is the timer counting down. Unfortunately the shorter timed missions will see it pop up after less than a minute of driving and sometimes just before you complete the objective and it feels more like a hindrance. A timer in the corner at all times would be better and the slowdown would be better after a percentage of the time is gone. Secondary objectives range from collecting/destroying things along the route of your primary objective or nearby on a centralised mission where you return objectives to an area after you fill your cargo hold (3 spaces). Objectives are shown via arrows which when off-screen point outwards to the objective or over the objective if it’s in view. The problem is that the primary objectives are highlighted via a red arrow which is clearly visible while the optional objective is in grey which doesn’t stick out much at all on some environments. While it could be a design decision so that you can miss optional objectives the fact that the arrow is there in the first place nullifies that argument. The map however is much clearer to use and can be used to locate all objective that can be shown on the map.
Each of the 4 characters has a special ability that only they have and each also has 3 skill trees to develop by spending upgrade points that you earn each time that you level up. Offense, Defence and Tactical; Offence holds upgrades for your secondary weapons, Defence holds upgrades with health and health pickups and Tactical has various upgrades for your special ability. Occasionally during a mission you will also get hold of a helicopter to use which has the advantage of being able to pass over terrain your normal vehicle could not; such as water and it has the ability to use flares to stop rockets homing in on it. This ability replaces that of your character.
Gameplay involves shooting with the right analogue stick and moving with the left analogue. Because of the Engine it runs on the vehicles have a weight to them and drive in a sometimes strange way considering that it is a top down shooter. The vehicle will flip over a lot if you drive off of ramps or up walls or just crash into another vehicles but the car does try and right itself and failing that will respawn you the right way up in the same position with no penalties. The same goes for leaving the play area which doesn’t happen often and you will see a small timer showing you how long until the free respawn. Driving into the ocean or off of an incredibly high cliff though will lose you a life though. Sometime you can reverse a little out of tight gaps but driving is very awkward in small enclosed spaces around buildings. The weight of movement can sometimes make it difficult to manoeuvre up small ramps or around other vehicles but generally feels right; it’s not too slippery and it’s not too heavy. Your main weapon is a machine gun that can be upgraded via collecting blue pick-ups which give you wider spread of fire and faster fire, though you will lose them if you happen to die. Secondary weapons come in 3 forms, rockets, railguns and flamers; each of which can be picked up or exchanged via weapon pick-ups which are large red collectible with an explosion, electricity or flames around it to show what it is. Smaller red pick-ups give you ammo towards the currently equipped weapon. Rockets do the most damage and will home in on a target near to it, railguns have to be charged for more damage and hit instantly and finally flamers can hit multiple targets and also continue damaging enemies until the fire burns out. There is also a turbo button so that you can speed up during the driving sections. Co-op features a split-screen where the screen will tear into 2 halves when you move far enough apart from each-other to have the screen split.
The levelling and the rank you receive for each level is decided via the score system where the more damage you do the higher your score. You receive score multipliers by not getting hit and by getting combos of damage and/or kills. Once the damage bar empties it tallies the score you got for that combo and adds it to your overall score which goes onto the leaderboards.
The graphics are incredible for a downloadable title but since it uses the same engine as Just Cause 2 it’s less of a surprise. Everything is extremely hi-res from the small armed men that shoot you, to the vehicles you drive, to the incredibly detailed environments that you drive and shoot your way through. Most things will explode at some point starting great balls of fire wherever you go. With this beautiful engine though, the story takes a completely different route and goes for a comic book style for all the characters in cutscenes as well as the small dialogue’s that appear during missions. The comic style is great and really sets the tone of story as it is very reminiscent of cartoons from the 80’s with its larger than life hero and super villain.
The audio is pretty reasonable with the music being quite heavy and war themed sometimes and other times it gives a sense of urgency though heavy brass tones. The dialogue is pretty cheesy and the voices are at that level of being over-the-top but it’s all at 80’s cartoon cheesy rather than B-movie cheesy.
Presentation and Audio
The game looks great and the audio is heavy in music and dialogue is cheesy to a decent degree. The comic style cutscenes merge well with the tone of the game and bring something to it that more realistic character would make tacky.
The game doesn’t get repetitive but aside from a few set-pieces the game doesn’t introduce much after the first three levels until much later. Missions last anywhere between 10-30 minutes and are fun to play and the option to go back and get a higher score is always there and hard-core difficulty to let you rack up an even higher score. Co-op is there and it’s definitely worth playing with some friends as it makes the game more fun by having more going on onscreen.
What the game does it does well and it looks beautiful and plays pretty well but things do get samey after a while. That’s not to say that it isn’t fun but you end up using more or less the same tactics to defeat the same groups of enemies.
I honestly thought that each level was a lot longer than it actually lasted; this is mainly because you end up doing so much in every mission. You end up driving through large sections while coming across enemies frequently but you never really have time to rest because of the timer on each objective. Missions are full of action and never really have much downtime.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.