In an over-saturated first person shooter market, it is very difficult to find a game that differentiates itself enough to truly stand out. Insurgency, a tactical first-person shooter from New World Interactive, makes the attempt at being a distinctive title by driving a team multiplayer experience. Smart level design and team oriented game modes ensure that lone-wolf players will be left behind, while team focused players will have an edge in the match.
There are two different options to choose from when starting the game. Co-op matches will place you with a team going against computer controlled AI, while Multiplayer matches are your more typical PvP matches. Matches are objective based, with different match types requiring you to capture points, destroy enemy caches, or eliminate a specific “VIP” player. While many of the matches will follow a similar formula, the rules will tend to change slightly based on type; specifically relating to re-spawns and resources. Unfortunately this left the game feeling somewhat monotonous to me, as there was very little variety in match types. Additionally, I was disappointed at the lack of a single player campaign in the game, especially as the tutorial made it obvious that it easily could have had one.
Tactical planning is key from the start of the match. Each match, you will be able to choose from a range of classes, which will then give you additional loadout options. You will have a set amount of resource points which you can then use towards customizing weapons, armor, as well as additional tools. Planning how you want to allocate those points will depend on the map you are playing. Nighttime maps, for example, may require the use of night-vision goggles if you wish to remain stealthy, while putting you at risk of blindness when an opposing character elects to use a flashlight attachment instead.
Team play is a definite must during a match. With the level design, you are always at risk of being killed by the opposing team. Different types of ammunition ensure that while you may be behind cover, you may not always be protected, as some types of ammunition can shoot through weaker cover. Additionally, there are plenty of places to fall victim to an ambush. Open communication is an absolute necessity, especially since the game is extremely unforgiving when it comes to taking damage. Players without access to a headset will be pleased to note that the game does feature in-game text chat, or you can listen in to the voice chat through your speakers as well.
While the map design was well laid out, a lack of detail and definition prevented me from being able to truly appreciate the otherwise well thought out design. While I applaud Insurgency for having very pretty, diverse maps, they were best viewed from a distance. Buildings are individually detailed, which makes communicating locations easy, but additional aesthetic details such as shelves, tables, or even outdoor vegetation look very grainy. Character models in the game are extremely bland, and would have benefited from some additional definition. Occasionally I would also come up behind teammates lying in the prone position, but not quite physically touching the ground. Ultimately, the game gives the appearance of a high-end PlayStation 2 title.
The gameplay itself is also not without frustrations. The controls in particular were a major source of ire for me, mostly in conjunction with the lack of a true heads-up display. During a match, you do not get to see how many rounds you have left in your weapon. The only information that flashes on the screen are the number of magazines you have left as you reload. This alone would be irritating enough, but reloads must be done manually. Upon expending the contents of your magazine, you will proceed to dry fire until you press the reload key. If you don’t pay attention to the amount of rounds you have, it is very easy to find yourself in the middle of a bustling firefight, and wasting precious seconds firing nothing. After reloading, you need to toggle back to your sights, as reloading will place you into hip-fire mode.
In short, while there were some things that I felt Insurgency did well, at the end of the day I just didn’t really have fun with it. With such a saturation of FPS games, there are multitudes that have more game modes, an actual campaign, and are just all around better executed. While the levels were well designed, they weren’t enough to overcome poor visuals and an extremely frustrating control scheme. The lack of truly defining game modes left me bored extremely quickly, and the lack of a true story mode leaves me with nothing that draws me back for more play time.