by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
Just Cause 2.5
Renegade Ops has a pretty good background when it comes to crazy action. Its developer, Avalanche Studios, is responsible for the larger than life Just Cause series, which can best be described as GTA: South America with a parachute. The series is known for lush jungle graphics and sizeable explosions, wrapped up in a machismo story that doesnít really matter. Renegade Ops is lucky that it feels a lot like its big brother.
Top-Down, Thumbs Up
Like the earliest GTA games, Ops is played from a top-down perspective, at a slight angle. You choose one of four characters and head out to rip the enemy a new one. One analog stick drives and the other shoots. It is a classic control scheme, one that works. Itís a bit difficult to maneuver through tight spaces and the driving can be a bit floaty at times, but Renegade Ops isnít about precision Ė it is about blowing stuff up.
In addition to your default machine gun, you can pick up a rocket launcher, rail gun and flamethrower. Each character also has a unique special ability. The abilities range from a reflecting shield to an EMP pulse to an airstrike, and often have both offensive and defensive capabilities. They also really work well together, providing players incentive to choose different characters when pairing up online.
Though the gameplay isnít anything revolutionary, it is very fun. Combat may seem a simplistic run-through, but thatís only at the easiest difficulty, which has unlimited lives. Higher difficulties limit lives and offer an RPG element with experience points and different skill trees. You will be busy deciding which upgrades to take onto the battlefield, and some real skill is required to dodge the barrage of missiles and gunfire sure to head your way.
Gone but not forgotten
Renegade Ops perfectly fits the definition of an arcade game. A title such as this practically demands upwards of 20 levels, but Ops only has nine. Each level is fun to play, but only takes about 30 minutes in single player and much less in multiplayer. Level progress wisely carries across all three modes: single player, split screen, and online multiplayer. Experience and upgrades, however, though also universal, are specific to each character. This provides quite a bit of replay value in leveling up all the characters and unlocking their powers to the max. The gameplay in Renegade Ops never got old for me, but with only nine levels I imagine that gamers might grow tired of it after a while. This is a game sorely in need of DLC, but whether PSN users want to shell out more cash for what should have been included is another thing.
Multiplayer is clearly where this game was meant to be played. The crisp foliage never looked better than when it was full of billowing smoke and explosions, and more players means more explosions; my favorite equation in videogames. I especially liked the dynamic split screen option. Other games I have played also had a dynamic split screen option, in which the dividing line disappeared as the two players got closer together. The difference here is that the line is at an angle, and swivels around the center point to follow the two players. This means you can start out on the left side of the screen, move to the right, and then end up on the top or bottom. It makes it a bit more confusing, but I felt it added to the chaos (and the fun) in just the right way.
The presentation in Renegade Ops is top notch. The ridiculously campy story is well-voiced and delivered in comic book style cutscenes. It fits the tone of the game perfectly, and even had a plot twist that I didnít see coming (as well as a humongous plot hole at the end). But even though I never had stability issues while actively playing, the game isnít without its bugs.
I experience sound issues, in which the sound got static-y and then cut out for a few minutes, and then came back in as though nothing happened. I have experienced this problem with other PSN games, so I wonder if thereís something specific to the network thatís causing the problem. (Before you ask, no, itís not my TV. I have paused the game and switched channels, and my TV speakers worked fine).
The game also froze on a few occasions both before and after a mission. In one case I started an online game with three other players, and the game proceeded to countdown to launch before abruptly stopping. Another time, I finished a mission and the game took me to the background of the mission stats screen without actually showing me anything. Other players online mentioned that their games sometimes froze during gameplay (which as I said, never happened to me), so it seems that youíll encounter some time of bug during your game. A quick restart solved all problems, and thereís a distinct possibility that a future patch will make this issue moot, but it was irresponsible nonetheless.
Short but sweet
Renegade Ops is an undeniably enjoyable game, one that especially shines in multiplayer. But it really is too short. Still, Avalanche has built a solid framework with this game, and future titles promise to be even more spectacular. Buying the game will guarantee you a good time, but be sure you know how long itís going to last.
Fun, frantic gameplay, excellent multiplayer.
Short game made shorter when others help, glitches that should not exist, do.