REVIEW – Renegade Ops (XBLA)

The Sleeper Hit of the Season


Made by the same people that put together the destructible Just Cause series, Renegade Ops is an adrenalin twin stick shooter that is a definite sleeper hit.  Released near the same time as Gears of War 3, there is a good chance that 360 players missed this entertaining release because they were too busy playing Horde mode.

Somewhat similar to Assault Heroes or even Geometry Wars, Renegade Ops uses a simple dual analog control scheme to keep action in the forefront.  Movement is controlled by the left analog stick while shooting and aiming is performed by holding the right analog stick in any direction.  Unlike other twin stick shooters, each level takes place on a large map which gives the game more of an open world tone.

You play as a member of the Renegades, people who just want to take down the bad guy no matter the cost.  Each playable character pretty much plays the same except for super abilities and different upgrades.  But thanks to the game’s RPG leveling up system, the player is free to earn and assign new abilities as seen fit.  It is a system that works well and gives the player a nice incentive to keep playing.

Because each level is huge, it would be nearly impossible to navigate without help.  Thanks to an ever pointing GPS arrow, the player always knows where the next objective is and how to get there.  Most stages also give the player optional secondary objectives that unlocks extra Achievements and provide extra experience points.  For the most part, this arrow system works well but there are times when it will experience the occasional hiccup mostly when the stage is multi-tiered.  This is still not a make or break deal, however.

Scattered throughout the game are highly detailed motion comics outfitted with voice acting.  This is a welcoming feature and really gives the game high presentation values although the story is a bit stereotypical – bad guy wants to take over the world, good guys chase, bad guy kills main good guy, good guy magically returns to save the day in the nick of time.  Even though it is cheap, the cut scenes are done well enough to make the player want to finish the quest.  On the other hand, the meathead dialog is so superficial and generic that it becomes laughable, but not in a good way.

Most of the game’s Achievements are unlocked by playing through the single player campaign, but the game really shines in co-op mode up to 4 players.  An action based game like this works better with friends and it is easy to see that the designers had this in mind.  With each stage being as big as it is complete with optional side objectives, the divide and conquer mentality is a highlighting feature.  Renegade Ops is still a great game when played solo, but it is best experienced with friends.

Besides the highly detailed motion comics, the rest of the game also looks great.  Just like the Just Cause games, the environment is destructible and interactive.  Are those houses in your way?  Just drive right through them.  Need to get down that ramp in a hurry?  Just drive right off and watch your vehicle bounce and tip realistically.  Everything blows up with a bang and with a shower of particle effects.  The soundtrack is also pretty epic… too bad the dialog is so painful.

As good as Renegade Ops is, I experienced a few problems throughout the quest, but all are forgivable.  I once had the game freeze on me when I entered a building to active a nearby bridge; usually the mash A Button mini game pops up but here it did not, leaving me in limbo until the game’s timer ran out.  It also would have been nice to have some extra camera options.  There are times when zooming in/out would have been helpful and could let the viewer admire the colorful visuals.  And finally, the game randomly experiences some crazy video farts; suddenly the game will make this Atari 2600 Errrhhhh noise. But again, these are mostly isolated incidents that should be mentioned but do not ultimately cripple the game.

Renegade Ops is the probably best game you have not played this gaming season.  After scanning the leaderboards and having difficulty finding a random match proves this.  At least do yourself a favor and play the demo.  Renegade Ops is a high action title that requires little thought but still has enough gameplay incentive to keep the player engaged.  You know, because sometimes you just want to blow sh*t up.


Better Than: Assault Heroes

Also Try: Ghost Busters (XBLA)

Wait For It: A new Smash TV

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