by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
A modern FPS
In an effort to draw in more players, developers of first-person shooters have introduced a plethora of new and enticing innovations that are supposed to help keep players loyal to their games for longer. RPG-style experience points that lead to the unlocking of new weapons, the ability to purchase attachments and upgrades for in-game money, and extra map-packs and other DLC are among the innovations that have been introduced since the time of the classic Battlefield 1942 and Counter Strike. However, some of these innovations have caused those of us who relished the fair and balanced gameplay of those golden oldies quite a bit of frustration, and even more worry over the future of the genre.
Needless to say, I enjoy playing games. That enjoyment is severely reduced when I run around with the pea shooters most modern FPSs have you start out with, being shot at by fourteen year olds with futuristic laser guns whose only claim to fame is the time they have available to spend on the game. That is not a challenge of skill vs. skill. That is a challenge between investments of time, and that is something I think is unfair. Other examples include “premium” players and those who have spent more money on games in order to unlock weapons that are unavailable to you, thus giving them an unfair advantage. That sort of design is flawed in my honest opinion, and I would never recommend a game guilty of such behaviour to my worst enemy's dog. I would, however, heartily recommend Insurgency to any fan of modern FPS games. Especially those who are fed up with the way most of them present themselves.
Insurgency is a fast paced, intense, multiplayer game that features small 32 player matches, five game modes, twelve maps, twenty weapons, two co-op game modes, and 3D VOIP which allows nearby enemies to hear you if you make the mistake of radioing in while close to them. You might consider these features standard, but the package in which they are delivered is anything but. This is without question the most intense multiplayer shooter I've played in years, and the reason is its realism. There is no health bar, you can only stand to be shot in the head once, grenades WILL kill you, and no one will have a “better” weapon than you do. However, you are able to customise your load-out to some extent.
Each team has certain roles that need filling and those roles determine which weapon is available to you. The sniper role, for example, cannot carry a machine gun and the assault role cannot carry a sniper rifle. Each role is already outfitted with specific weapons, grenades, armour, ammo, etc. and if you want to customise your load-out, you'll need to spend supply points, of which each player has ten. You can't get more, and you can't lose them. If you want a better scope, for example, you might choose to skip having a side arm or choose light armour instead of heavy. In this way, each player on the field is evenly matched and you are able to fit the load-out to your style of play. I, for one, don't use grenades that much, always panic when I run out of ammo, and can't aim if my life depended on it, so I skip grenades, throw away my side arm, wear heavy armour, and try to use a semi-automatic long-range rifle with a heavy barrel and a grip for added stability. That's just how I roll.
Gaining the advantage
Be careful though, because the weight you carry determines the speed at which you move, so going all out on the heaviest gun, the most armour, and the biggest explosives your supply points allow will make you a slower moving target. The realism of this game does not stop at how many bullets you can take, however. As mentioned earlier, the enemy can hear you if you're close to them while talking on the radio and that's a very bad thing if you're one of those players who likes to try to flank their positions and hit them from behind. In addition to that, your team mates do not have their names hovering above their heads and at long range, it does become problematic telling friend from foe. Once you get used to the uniforms of each side, however, you'll stop being kicked out of servers for too many teamkills.
Snipers have an advantage in many games, but in Insurgency, the ability to see enemies from far away is outweighed by complete uselessness in close quarters. Bringing the beautifully crafted 4x scope up to your eye takes time and every movement you make while lying on the ground makes your character have to do that again. There is no cross-hair in this game, so shooting any weapon from the hip is something only advisable in sticky situations. Laser sights are available for most weapons, but again, they cost quite a few supply points, so if you want to see where you're shooting without aiming down the sight, you're going to have to go without something else.
A true test of skill
Insurgency is a breath of fresh air and I can easily see myself playing it every chance I get. Thanks in advance for ruining the next few months for me. This game has me hooked and I see it as a proudly raised middle finger in the face of large developers who seem to completely ignore fairness and player equality in favour of potential income. I wholeheartedly recommend this game to you, dear reader. Worst case scenario, you'll see what honest, intense, skill based games used to feel like.
Intense action, fair gameplay, a true test of skill vs. skill
Slightly dated visuals