Jeremy Jastrzab
04 Aug, 2011

Renegade Ops Preview

PS3 Preview | Warning: there may be an explosion or two...
While they were all the rage for a while, the re-advent of the dual stick shooter through console download services seems to have cooled down. It seemed that a single week wouldn’t go by without a release, but it’s all about puzzle games and artsy independent titles now. Still, just like there will always be platformers, you can’t keep a good genre down. Renegade Ops, from Sega, is their newest upcoming downloadable title for both the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, but it’s more like a cross between dual stick shooters, a comic book and B-grade action flicks. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, when the developer is Avalanche Studios, the lovely peeps behind the Just Cause titles.

With cut scenes presented like a digital comic book, the story revolves around your somewhat typical comic book super villain, Inferno, and the forces trying to stop him: The Renegade Ops. Inferno is galivanting around the world, targetting capital cities with nuclear missiles, while the leader of the Renegade Ops, Bryant, sends his troops (meaning you) off to stop Inferno's neferious plans. So far, it all played out like a mix between a B-grade action flick and a Saturday morning cartoon from the 90s. It seems like everything is placed to have a bit of fun, as long as you're not going to take it too seriously.

Queue explosion music.

Queue explosion music.
The closest title that immediately comes to mind is 2008's Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, if you're looking for a comparison. However, instead of roaming the battlefields and dual stick shooting on foot, you're in a vehicle, with the game being played from an isometric perspective. The basic aim of each of the twelve campaign missions will be to follow the objectives as they’re given to you. And these mainly involve driving over to a point and blowing the heck out of everything there or a point of interest (though that doesn't preclude you from blowing everything up too). Occasionally, you’ll have to rescue people and objects, or enter an enemy base and manually take it out (i.e. mash the A/X button). Each mission can be played with up to four players in co-op too.

No respectable dual stick shooter would be complete without a robust scoring and upgrade system though. While going through and simply shooting anything that moves would get boring after a while, the scoring system tries to give you incentive to string your destruction together. Once you reach a certain level of damage dealt, you’ll ignite a score multiplier, which will stay activated as long as you’re dealing damage and blowing stuff up. So you almost have to start off by trying to be smart with your attacks, before shooting everything that moves. The encouraging aspect of the level design was that it was fairly open, and had optional objectives mixed in with the timed main objectives, meaning you were never on a linear path.

You’ll have four characters to pick from, and each has a specific secondary weapon up their sleeve: Diz (EMP), Roxy (Air Strike), Gunnar (Heavy Gun) and Armand (Shield). Aside from their secondary weapon, they all seemed to play the same. However, each earned experience when used, which then led to tiered upgrades. While your main gun will upgrade with pickups along the way, you can also pick up weapons with limited ammo, such as rockets, rail guns and flamethrowers. One aspect of the game that seemed a little off though, was the length of the three campaign missions previewed. Each of them pushed the half hour mark, which seems at odds with the concept of a downloadable title, and there is only so much variety that can be pushed out. Not to mention, playing on ‘normal’ was quite a breeze, so it’s hard to imagine the casual mode being at all taxing. Hopefully the hardcore mode makes up for this.

Why have one explosion when you can have two?

Why have one explosion when you can have two?
For a downloadable title, Renegade Ops sports some very nice effects and details. While the comic book cut scenes and comic bars during the play time were the most distinctive, and you seem to mainly be driving through South American jungles, both the particle effects from driving around and explosions were quite the sight to behold. Often, there was a lot of action on screen and the game didn’t struggle at all. This bodes well for the final release. The music was fairly nondescript, while the voice acting seemed to back up the B-grade action/Saturday morning cartoon notion. Again, it’s something that shouldn’t bother anyone just looking for a bit of fun.

Renegade Ops is an interesting take on the dual stick shooter, and in the very least, looks to have nailed the spirit of both B-grade action movies and Saturday morning cartoons. It’s something that the guys at Avalanche Studios seem to do quite well. Otherwise, the gameplay is very solid so far, with a good scoring system in place and maps that are open enough for what they’re trying to offer. The only points of contention will be whether the levels are too long or likely to drag, as well as whether the level of challenge is right. Still, the explosions are definitely something you won’t have to worry about…
From the guys that brought us Just Cause, you know that Renegade Ops will bring you plenty of cheese and explosions. And so far it plays well too.

Related Renegade Ops Content

Renegade Ops Review
09 Oct, 2011 Heading into dual-stick territory to deliver explosive justice.
Renegade Ops announced
02 Apr, 2011 Another delicious dose of destruction on the way.
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