Insurgency Review – Surprising Uprising

One staple of modern PC gaming is the competitive multiplayer first-person-shooter. What makes it so great is that there’s something for just about anybody out there; hardcore twitch fans, realism enthusiasts, class-based hat-lovers…just about any preference or skill level can be accounted for somewhere. One consequence of this is that it can be hard for new games to find a place in this already crowded marketplace. New World Interactive has stepped up, however, with its new multiplayer shooter, Insurgency, and it turns out that it’s pretty darn fun.

Insurgency TeamInsurgency is a strictly multiplayer/co-op game, with only a training mode available in singleplayer. This mode is not too bad for teaching you the basics, although I did hit a wall…literally…with the part about throwing grenades. I tried and tried, but could not get a flash-bang through the tiny hole and into the dumpster which would trigger the next part. After about 15 minutes of pure frustration, I gave up and just jumped into the game with the idea that I’d figure it all out on the fly. Curiously, I’m not sure I’ve neither thrown nor seen thrown a grenade in all my time playing the game proper.

Anyway, diving right in, this is a surprisingly accessible game for a newcomer. Insurgency attempts to bridge the gap between the run and gun intensity of Call of Duty, the high consequence stakes of CounterStrike: GO, and the methodical mechanics of ArmA, and, in terms of gameplay, it actually does a pretty decent job of it. While it controls pretty much as with any other FPS, there is the added challenge of needing to use ironsights. Indeed, spray-and-pray types will quickly learn this as they sit in the lobby, pondering over another senseless death at the hands of an opponent. Additionally, only one or two hits will take you down and force you to stand by helplessly until either your team captures a strategic point or the game ends; whichever comes first. This means you quickly learn that caution and teamwork is the best way to succeed.

One issue I faced with Insurgency was in its balancing. Playing as soldiers or insurgents offers unique objectives depending on the mode. In one mode where you need to destroy/defend checkpoints, playing as an insurgent was ridiculously easy while it was all but impossible to defend your zone as a soldier. I didn’t necessarily have a bad time playing this mode, but there is a noticeable lack of thrills going into a multiplayer match with 99% certainty of how it’s going to end.

Insurgency DeathOther modes are better balanced, as they have checkpoints that can fluctuate between opponents multiple times during the course of a match. Even with that, however, there were definitely matches where my team steamrolled over the other one in less than two minutes. I’m certainly no expert at these types of games, so I can’t honestly say it was due to my prowess at taking out enemies. New World has been updating the game pretty regularly, so bear in mind it may become less of an issue as time goes on.

There are about a dozen maps designed in the mold of CounterStrike; none of them are terribly large, but each has its share of multiple paths and choke points which have their own unique risks and challenges. They also are all pretty similar in tone and look: grubby, war-torn environments. The lack of visual variety is not necessarily a problem, but I can’t help but wonder if it would kill developers to show off a little bit of level diversity.

I spent most of my time jumping into a variety of game modes and interacting with strangers. For the most part, I found the community to be small but polite. There wasn’t a whole lot of communication going on, but, on the other hand, there wasn’t a lot of abuse either. It’s refreshing to play a competitive online game in which people don’t lose their minds about winning and losing, so here’s hoping that continues as the game becomes more popular.

"I love the smell of Source Engine in the morning..."

“I love the smell of Source Engine in the morning…”

Priced at $15 on Steam, Insurgency offers a nice compromise between these types of games. It’s the same cost as CounterStrike: GO, and while the former clearly trumps it in overall polish, community size, and available content, this game offers a much lower barrier to entry for newcomers. Because it is a Source Engine game, it is also likely that more maps and modes will become available down the line, provided it finds an audience willing to sustain it. This game is, after all, based on a mod.

I’ll give its developers credit for boldness in even attempting to carve out a space in a landscape where certain titles have dominated for years. In its current state, I certainly don’t think Insurgency is going to supplant any of these games any time soon, but it does enough things right that it’s definitely worth checking out whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran.

Final Breakdown

[+Nice compromise between game styles] [+Friendly community] [+Likelihood of mod support down the road] [-Some modes not well balanced] [-Some game modes are much better than others]

Great Review Score

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