It is hard to go about reviewing something that looks great and is a lot of fun but has god awful controls. Renegade Ops is a twin shooter that has a fantastic arcade feel to it and destructible environments set in the same engine that ran Just Cause 2. It came out first on PSN and XBLA back in September with a later release on PC in late October. It is developed by SEGA. It is a downloadable game with a $15 price tag, a price tag that is very flexible this holiday season.
The story of the game is very light and action orientated, something you will feel right at home with if you grew up watching G.I. Joes. It has a light rpg element added onto the twin shooter action that lets you customize each of the four characters and level them up through a skill tree. The story isn’t horribly long, lasting maybe five hours if you aren’t rushing through or playing through it all on easy. There are several difficulties and the main difference between each one is the number of lives you start with and how strong health/ammo drops are. The story is pretty easy to ignore and the game tends to bring all the focus onto the action. The maps they give you, most of them that is, are fairly wide and open but have obvious routes that you should be taking in order to get to objectives. Each mission tends to just give you objective after objective and sometimes there side missions as well can be completed for extra points. Most of the levels are enjoyable and slick but there a few that feel a little poorly designed, especially when it seems impossible to do all the side missions and main objectives because of time constraints. Why they have time constraints in the first place, I don’t know, but they tend to force you to move on and in a game where there are secret lives to find, side objectives to complete and areas to explore it is not appreciated.
One of the main selling points is how well the game works within the graphical engine and like I mentioned before it is the same gorgeous tropical engine of Just Cause 2. If you’ve ever played Just Cause 2 then you know how fun blowing up buildings, vehicles, landmarks and radio towers is in that game, the same applies for Renegade Ops. Driving through buildings and around the tropical landscape is a pleasure to see, as is blowing up damn near everything. It helps that almost every objective involves you blowing up something, whether it’s tanks, missiles or an aircraft carrier. Normally you go through a level as a land based vehicle, each of which is unique to each of the four characters, but there are also helicopters that you can use that are very powerful and fun to use. The only complaint about air combat is that once you use a helicopter you lose all unique features and abilities, but at least you still gain experience towards that particular character. There isn’t a lot to the gameplay in Renegade Ops but it is done well and in an enjoyable manner. Check out this gameplay video to get an idea of how the gameplay is.
The game’s UI is made well but like the controls you can tell that it wasn’t originally intended for the PC. I’ve thankfully played the game on Xbox 360 as well and can attest to the differences. While the UI and menu’s are fine as they are, they could use quite a few customization options, the controls are terrible. Even when you start the game they recommend you use a gamepad instead of the keyboard/mouse setup. The default controls have you use the mouse only for abilities and firing your machine gun, while you drive with the keyboard and in this kind of game that is an absolute pain. With a gamepad you move very smoothly and easily but without one it feels very frustrating. Starting the game with this controls is brutal and eventually you can get used to them to some extent but even then they are still unpleasant.
Renegade Ops is surprisingly enjoyable, despite it’s poor controls and some poor mission mechanics. It a good example of how fun and addictive a twin stick shooter can be. You may think the premise is simple and the combat is repetitive but Renegade Ops has quite a punch, especially when you are fighting alongside friends. Sure it’s very arcadey with it’s light story and overly explosive world but it is solid and often strong game. If you can nab the game on sale and you happened to have a corded Xbox 360 controller, or some kind of gamepad, then Renegade Ops should be a pleasant surprise. Then again, if you can manage to get it on console then it is all the better, except for the whole thing with DLC and multiplayer both being easier to access, also cheaper, on PC.
Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5) PC
Violent Score: 4 (out of 5) XBLA/PSN