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Renegade Ops

Score: 84%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Avalanche Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Mission-Based Driving/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Renegade Ops looks like a bird's-eye view of your favorite mission-based driving game, complete with all the little details you can't see from the road. You're pulled back quite a ways from the action, which makes things a wee bit teeny, but the trade off is you get this fantastic level of detail. Birds flying past, smoke in the air, explosions sending hunks of building flying in all directions, all of it spread out in gorgeous 3D. The action is punctuated by cartoon cut-scenes as the story of Renegade Ops plays out, and there's plenty of voice acting to add color. The whole package is well designed, with some rousing sound effects to complement the riotous action. A variety of enemies are thrown at you, everything from foot-soldiers to a giant battleship, often in waves. The split-screen multiplayer is less successful because of the minute scale of Renegade Ops, but if you have a huge screen, you won't notice so much.

Gameplay:

Mission-based driving and car combat may feel a bit tired at this point, after years of history stretching back to Rockstar's finest open-world games, or the explosive glory of Twisted Metal. What Renegade Ops introduces is a new twist that mashes up driving with twin-stick shooting action to make for a fun, arcade experience. It's light entertainment, to be sure, but if you're tired of racing games that overdo the simulation side of things, or want to simply go out and blow stuff up, Renegade Ops will scratch that itch. The game features a cast of characters, each driving his or her own vehicle with unique abilities. This is inherited from games like Twisted Metal where you could pick a ride that matched your playing style, or class-based fighting games. We especially liked Diz, a chick with a mean-looking truck sporting an EMP ability that renders enemies around her helpless.

The other characters have their pros and cons, but during the game, you'll have a chance to upgrade all the vehicles to boost general attack, defense, or special abilities. Levels play out with a series of primary and secondary objectives, but these are mainly for completion of the level and earning achievements, respectively. Your character earns points for destroying targets, and can rack up more by avoiding damage. Upgrade points can be traded for abilities that follow a tech-tree structure, but where you can only have up to four equipped for any one mission. You can go back and replay old missions for score, but the real replay value is likely in the two-player co-op. This allows you to share the action with a friend, making it easier to manage some of the game's larger bosses and enemy hordes. Renegade Ops seems to be banking on the notion that you'll want to also replay the single-player game with other characters, but we aren't sure there's enough difference in the way the vehicles feel in their starter configurations to make this worthwhile.


Difficulty:

If you think of recent twin-stick shooting games, they're known for offering a pretty stiff challenge. Renegade Ops definitely shares this quality, and will put even seasoned Shooter fans through their paces. The difference is that Renegade Ops has a finite store of enemies per area, unlike arcade shooting games that throw wave after wave at you. Also, it's easier to read enemy patterns in Renegade Ops, such as the fact that tanks have a hard time hitting you if you just keep driving in circles around them... An interesting trade-off in Renegade Ops with difficulty settings is that when you play on the lowest level (Casual), you won't earn upgrade points. We understand the theory here, but considering how many people likely fall into the casual camp, we wonder whether hiding one of the game's more compelling mechanics from these players is prudent. At the middle setting, upgrade points are earned, but the game becomes considerably more difficult. Luckily, you do have the benefit of upgrades that give your player a considerable advantage.

Game Mechanics:

Renegade Ops stays fairly true to the conventions of any arcade shooting game, putting a focus on quick movements that have little to do with driving. It's like a racing game without having to worry about actually driving a car. Okay, there are a few things that are at least a nod to having four wheels on the road, such as powerslides and some strategically placed jumps. However, outside these actions, you could just as easily be running through these levels in a Robotron suit... The left stick serves as your locomotion, with the right stick controlling your primary weapon. Your secondary weapons and special abilities are connected to the triggers, making it easy to pull off attack combos. Face buttons figure into a few actions, but aren't used often. This control scheme makes Renegade Ops incredibly easy to pick up and play.

If you enjoy the idea of mashing up Geometry Wars with Twisted Metal, you'll find exactly that in Renegade Ops. It may be short-lived, but it packs a lot of fun, even if all you do is play through the full story with one character. We're betting you'll devote some time to knocking out those secondary missions, leveling up a second or third character, or inviting a friend for some co-op action. The polished presentation of Renegade Ops continues the trend of download games looking like the product we were buying off the shelf not that long ago. And did we mention you get to save the world?


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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