Developer: New World Interactive
Publisher: New World Interactive
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: January 22, 2014
ESRB: Not rated (M suggested)
Modern warfare used to be the sexy theme in first-person shooters. Rarely portrayed prior to Call of Duty 4, games with combat against insurgents and present-day military forces were usually pipe dreams, confined to the likes of Battlefield 2 and the old Source mod Insurgency. After Call of Duty bucked the trend, the market became supersaturated with modern guns and grit. It was fun for a while until it became the annualized norm.
Gamers grew tired of the endless cycle of shooting generic, stereotyped terrorists. So why would anyone want to make yet another modern warfare shooter in an overcrowded market? I asked myself the same question until I got my hands on newest iteration of Insurgency. It may very well be one of the best tactical shooters to come out in years.
Insurgency's roots can be traced back to the free Source mod of the same name, introduced in the early 2000's. Insurgency back then was a revolution, featuring intense combat and a difficult learning curve that encouraged teamwork over guns-blazing. Striking a middle ground between Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six, the mod knew how to balance realistic combat with fun, competitive gameplay. All of that experience and knowledge has been brought to bear with the rebuilt, reborn Insurgency.
The game is divided across a few different multiplayer styles. For those looking to engage in frequent firefights, check out the Sustained Combat modes. Looking for more team-based, objective-oriented gameplay? Tactical Operations has you covered. And if standing side by side with team-mates against AI insurgents gets your blood boiling, there's a co-op mode made just for you. Better yet, the AI can be deadlier than the human opponents you'll face.
Insurgency has 7 distinct game modes across the 3 different categories, though each mode can share objectives from other modes. My personal favorites were Seek and Destroy (blow up enemy arms caches) and VIP Escort (protect/kill the VIP as/before they escape). Matches are tense, violent affairs that kill quickly and forgive little. Mistakes can end in the decimation of your whole team if your allies get careless. Clearing corners and always keeping an eye for movement is crucial to surviving the brutal world of Insurgency.
A single bullet will often kill you, especially if the enemy has swapped out their loaded rounds. At the start of every match, you can choose the types of attachments you have, how much ammo you carry, the rounds you fire and more using a points system. The better the add-on, the more points and added weight it'll cost you. These things all matter and can quickly change the balance of combat if you find yourself overwhelmed by the enemy. Forgoing that 4X scope to snag an extra frag grenade might just save your life in a serious pinch.
The only frustrating part about the expertly balanced loadout system is that you can't save setups. It can be a tad aggravating to keep buying and removing the same objects over and over again. It's a fairly minor complaint and one that could easily be addressed with a patch. Otherwise, the technicals are in great order. Visuals are relatively conservative, focusing on some great dust and particle effects rather than fancy textures (after all, it's the Source engine). The audio is stellar, witholding in-game music in favor of the soundtrack of bullets and explosions. Rifles crack and rounds whizz over your head to terrifying effect. It's all very gritty and intense.
The selection of maps is somewhat limited as everything tends to blend together. My least favorite was Heights where I was often blown away by snipers, even when I thought I was safely in cover. Perhaps that's part of the appeal but I've never jived with it. The other locales are varied in range from wide open battles during the day in valleys to frantic night battles across market streets. You'll find a little bit of everything, whether it's sniper-friendly maps or CQC-oriented corridors.
Your enjoyment of Insurgency will depend entirely on whether or not you're willing to slow down your pace, embrace teamwork and play tactically. This isn't the game for constant-action junkies or thrill-a-minute gamers. It rewards patience and planning, not trigger-happy rushers. You can certainly play it that way but it'll quickly end with a bullet to your head.
Is Insurgency absolutely perfect? No, there are a few minor glitches and the loadout system is a tad annoying. Some levels also don't look great, especially with some shoddy ground textures. But if you're looking for an fun, rewarding tactical shooter, Insurgency is practically begging for your $15. It's bargain-priced and packs a fair bit of intense gaming, especially if you've been looking for a change of pace from Battlefield and Call of Duty. Dust off your BDUs and load up those rifles! It's time to go to work.
+ Lots of bang for your buck
+ Relatively varied game modes and maps
+ Nice change of PC from most shooters
+ Great audio and particle effects
- A few minor glitches
- Enemy AI skill varies wildly
- Loadout system won't save
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
If you're tired of the endless modern shooters, Insurgency does just enough to make it fresh again, and at a bargain price.