I’ve followed Insurgency since its Alpha stage, popping in every few weeks to see how the game was progressing, and I was always surprised to find that it was always improving. Beta has come and gone, and Insurgency is now a big boy shooter with big boy dreams that it achieves with surprising panache.
Insurgency is refreshingly deliberate and perilous. It takes very few bullets to kill, and as a result, careful movement and liberal use of the game’s leaning mechanic are important if surviving longer than a couple minutes is your goal. Despite this, Insurgency feels anything but clunky. Movement is snappy and, while “unrealistic,” provides a more visceral feel to a style of shooter that has traditionally been a little slower than most.
The HUD provides the minimum amount of information required to make sure you know what you’re doing, i.e. map objectives and remaining magazines. There’s no way of knowing how many rounds are left in a loaded magazine, which inevitably leads to some Dirty Harry type moments if you aren’t too careful. I would have liked a system like Red Orchestra‘s, where holding the reload key gives an on-screen message with a rough estimate as to how many rounds are left (“this magazine is almost empty/half full/etc.”).
Weapons, equipment, and accessories are available on a match-by-match basis, meaning your purchases won’t carry over after a map or mode change. It’s a system that has clear analogues to Counter-Strike (where the original Insurgency mod came from) and it’s maintained by “Supply” instead of money, whereby Supply is gained by taking objectives. Available upgrades (which includes the requisite optics, grenades, ammunition capacity, etc.) cost nothing to swap out, as Supply is refunded and added to whatever you have left. This ultimately allows players to react to the game at hand with as much agency as they please.
The class system is intriguing, if a little flat in execution. The opposing sides, Insurgents and Security, are separated into two squads with specific roles. Security, for example, has an Assault and Recon squad, which are both pared down into a limited number of classes. Each class dictates the availability of primary and secondary weapons, as well as equipment like explosives. It allows a certain level of customization at the individual level despite the lack of a persistent leveling system, however, each class is ultimately indistinguishable from one another. The most compelling benefit to the class system is that the number of accessible “power weapons” (LMGs, snipers, shotguns) are kept in check, and is very similar to the system employed in Red Orchestra. A clear downside to this is possibly being relegated to a class with weapons you aren’t comfortable using or even like if you join a match in progress, but this is unavoidable as well as somewhat mitigated by the game’s Practice mode (more on that in a bit).
Game modes are separated into “Tactical Operations” and “Sustained Combat.” Modes in the former category are decidedly more hardcore than the latter, featuring only one playable life unless your team secures objectives. If this isn’t your style of play, Sustained Combat modes feature timed reinforcement waves that feel more like a “traditional” FPS, and will probably be more comfortable to newer players. All game modes (save for VIP) center around territory control and blowing up weapon caches. My favorite is probably Push, where a team must defend three objectives that are captured by the attacking team in sequential order. Provided that both sides are equally matched, the last objective almost always ends up being a tense stand-off and it’s way too much fun being holed up on the roof of some dilapidated building taking potshots at our would-be conquerors.
The game looks and sounds great and has steadily improved despite a failed Kickstarter campaign last year. I initially had some concerns with the difficulty of the game and its lack of help for new players, but a tutorial mode, outlining basic shooter controls and game-specific mechanics, has been added, as a well as a practice mode to lay waste to bots with whatever weapons you desire. In addition, New World Interactive has promised plenty of regular post-release development, including new weapons, maps, and modes, as well as an upgraded cover system and their continued support of modding, with an eventual Steam Workshop integration.
Ask any shooter fan how a new title stacks up to the rest and their criticism will invariably compare it to one of two series: Call of Duty or Battlefield, and if you’re talking to a PC gamer, they may bring up Red Orchestra or Arma. Insurgency manages to mix a little of all these games and more, offering hardcore shooting in a slick and very entertaining package that is worth every penny and more.
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux; Publisher: New World Interactive; Developer: New World Interactive; Players: 1-32; Released: January 22, 2014; ESRB: RP; MSRP: $14.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.