Insurgency- Streamlined First-Person Combat

Welcome to another game review!

Insurgency is a realistic military shoote- HANG ON I’M NOT FINISHED! Before you crucify me with your shards of Modern Warfare 3 discs, let me clarify- It is not an arcade-y shooter posing as a realistic shooter. It is not a shooter that shoots fun in the face with an M16 in the name of realism either. It is a shooter that knows that incoming fire should scare the pants off you, and that death should register more reaction than an “oops.” And there’s no campaign that tries to make Russia or China the ultimate evil in the world, so that’s nice too. No campaign at all, for that matter. This game is centered on objective based multi-player matches, be they against humans or bot, and it does this well.

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Insurgency takes away a number of the features shooter fans would be used to. There’s no on-screen indication of your ammo supply beyond the number of remaining magazines, which do not neatly reorganize the bullets between them. Hipfire does not land in a neat circle around the middle of your screen. There is no radar, and no indication if you’re hitting/killing/suppressing an enemy. Some other changes include wave-spawning instead of a per-person timer, and a point-system for getting weapons and attachments and such that feels kinda like Counter-Strike, but simplified.

It’s intimidating at first, as you don’t have that wealth of information on your screen. But as I got used to it, I really enjoyed it. The game is much more focused on the gun battles as a result of these changes. It’s almost like the developers looked at every cheesy strategy in Call of Duty and Battlefield and declared they had no place in their game. Thus, no more fire-and-forget proximity mines or god damned shock charges. No more quickscoping. No more magic bullet-ignoring knife lunges. Grenade spam is heavily hampered by the limits to capacity and resupplying and the spawn mechanics. And anyone throwing C4 at you for an easy kill will blast themselves to hell too. Camping in a corner isn’t nearly as viable, because everyone knows to check their corners and they’re in less of a rush.

The tutorial does a good job of explaining the concepts of the game, but doesn’t do as well at tackling some of the major differences between this and other first person shooters, besides the ones I already covered. For this, I recommend playing a few rounds of co-op, where the following points will become quite clear:

– You can die in seconds, even with heavy armor
– If you can see your enemy, they can see you too
– Holding the trigger and hoping the enemy drops before you do rarely ends well

It’s not perfect, the co-op. The AI alternates between aiming in random directions, and scoring a headshot on you, across the map, with an AK47 with no scope. They also have trouble with someone sitting in the corner with a silencer when they try to retake checkpoints. Playing against other humans is the main draw of this game, so I can understand less emphasis being placed on AI, but I hope they improve this in the future. That said, there are some things they handle very well, such as deploying smoke before crossing open areas, and hammering defensive positions with incendiary grenades that force you to relocate.

The Practice Mode AI isn't stellar either.

The Practice Mode AI isn’t the best at path-finding.

Being shot at is scary and disorienting. You’ve got sparks flying up in front of you, and the sound of bullets tearing apart objects behind and beside you, so it sounds like your entire world is exploding. The sound of bullets hitting around you is often louder than the actual gun being fired in your direction, so it can be difficult to tell where exactly the rain of lead is coming from. On top of all this, your soldier is screaming for backup, and rightly so. They also do that Battlefield thing of making your vision blur, but the other effects were what impressed me personally. It reminds me of when you’re playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent and you realize a monster is nearby but you don’t know where. Then the chase music kicks in, and you try to find out where it is if only so you know which way to run.

Okay, let's clear thi- OH GOD HELP ME! I DON'T WANNA DIE!

Okay, let’s clear thi- OH GOD HELP ME! I DON’T WANNA DIE!

This is not a game that has 50+ weapons, but this ultimately helps the game in making weapons feel more distinct. For example, you’ve got the M16, which is cheap and has fair stats in all categories, but can be customized with attachments for a specific purpose, then you’ve got the AK47 as the heavier, harder-hitting gun… you get the idea. It’s very strange in that, at least thus far, no weapon is given any sort of measure as to its stats. No Call Of Duty style bars to show which stats are important, not even an estimate of the guns power. It only covers the weight of weapon, but no details to help you understand how you should be wielding it. Sure, you get a feel for it with time, but I don’t understand why the game can’t give you even the vaguest idea of how the weapons handle.

The environments are at least fair. Being set in desert settlements doesn’t leave much room for experimenting with the color palette, but the level design has a little bit for everyone- narrow corridors for CQC, long streets with spaced cover for long range battle, big open areas for sniping… you get the idea.

Ultimately, I think the game is fun, and a nice change of pace from the typical AAA entries into the genre. If it intrigues you, it is currently on Steam for $15.

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