Back in the Insurgency [Insurgency Preview]

Great level design and game play are a hell of a way to make a come back.

A few months back when the Insurgency 2 Kickstarter failed I was a bit disappointed.  Apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention because, lo and behold, I received an e-mail stating that the early access beta for Insurgency was going to be made available on Friday, March 1st.  Despite the failed Kickstarter, New World Interactive pushed forward with development.  Instead of calling it Insurgency 2, they just branded the game Insurgency.

Insurgency is still very much in development, but NWI wants the community’s help in shaping the game before the official release.  The focus is clearly on the gameplay, as both the graphics and some sound effects aren’t bad, but could be better.  You probably won’t notice too much, however, because if you have time to look around and take in the scenery you’re probably already dead.

For those who have never played INS, the best way I could describe it is a mixture between Counter-Strike and Battlefield.  If you take Counter-Strike’s tactics and put it together with Battlefield’s teamwork (minus the huge maps) you will get something that plays like Insurgency; perhaps requiring an even more tactical approach and greater teamwork.  When you play it’s very clear that you need to work with your team —  no one man show carrying the entire team.  Racking up kills may look good on the scoreboard, but I have played more than a few matches where the team with the highest kill count still lost the match.

Before continuing I should also mention that your HUD in this game is pretty bare.  At this point you have info on what control points are captured and what your team score is, but you won’t be seeing directional markers, ally positions, or even a crosshair or ammo count.  When I say the ammo count is missing, I don’t mean that it show ups when you’re low on ammo or when you check your clip like some games; it’s completely gone.  Some people are used to not using  crosshairs, but I would say keeping your own ammo count in your head while shooting and avoiding being shot is definitely for a hardcore shooter crowd.  To add to that, when you reload your clip you lose the ammo of the previous clip; so constant reloading isn’t advised.

One action that will get you killed fast is running around the map like you’re playing CoD.  Do that and you might as well be a deer in an open meadow.  You need to move tactically; darting from cover to cover once you’re out the safety of your spawn.  There is no cover system, so you’ll need to do things the old fashion way: get behind a solid object, be aware of where your head is and not show it.  You can lean in this game, so that’s helpful when you need to check around corners.

Along with the various objects like cars, buildings, boxes, etc. that will help you traverse maps (fairly) safely, the elements of lighting and visibility also come into play.  This mainly affects you on indoor maps.  Using the lighting, I could lay prone in a dark area while defending a control point and plug away at passerby, or catch  players as they left a control point, .  Sometimes these people were no more than 15 feet away from me, but as long as I remained still and waited until I had my shot, they would be taking the big sleep without even knowing where it came from.  The same thing happened to me on more than one occasion, and the lessons I learned from that taught me to move carefully and keep my noise levels down.

There are three different classes to choose from: light, medium, and heavy.  From what I can tell the difference between them is armor and speed.  One attribute goes up and the other goes down.  To be honest, I stuck with the medium most of the game because it felt like the best of both worlds.  Other than that, everyone has access to the same weapons.  You’ll have an assault rifle, sniper rifle, SMG, shotgun, hand gun, grenades, etc. at your disposal.  Everything isn’t readily available at map start, however.

Check that lighting.  There might be an enemy there.

When you start a map you will have access to one weapon.  After you unlock that one you will need supply to unlock the others.  Unlocks do not carry cross over from match to match.  You will gain supply over the course of the map and you can spend it on unlocking weapons and various attachments for your weapons.  Things like a holographic scope, silencer, armor piercing bullets, laser sight, and various types of grenades.  I loved the weapons and how you can feel the differences between them.  However, I will say that I believe the RPG is a mistake in this game.   The RPG will definitely be the noob cannon of INS and doesn’t feel like it belongs at all.  Everything else in this game screams hardcore FPS except this thing.

Let me tell you a story.

I was defending a point during one match. I was moving from place to place near the point, but mainly defending it so I stayed in the vicinity.  Another point was being heavily contested, but this one guy kept coming to MY point and trying to take it back.  I put him down every time he came by and had to rack up at least 8 or 9 kills on this guy.  In the midst of one of his cursing fits he said he had something for me, and came back to the point with the RPG.  At that point he just spammed any of the places I could have been hiding and that’s how he got me –  not because he out-played me with skill, but because he went with the noob cannon with a large area of effect.

Unfortunately, that was not my only bad experience with the RPG.  I saw more than a few matches turn into noob cannon fiestas, with players running down hallways with RPGs out just waiting to take the shot.  It’s an escalation issue:  one person starts using it, then the person he used it on starts using it too, and so on, and so on.  There are no vehicles in this game, so I really don’t see the need to have a gun of this caliber in the game.  Hopefully it gets removed, because it sucked the fun out of a bunch of matches for me.

A lot of detail went into the map layout, and it’s paid off.  Every map I’ve played so far has been well-balanced.  There was a point on each side of the map that each team had the advantage in taking, with the middle point being a heavy battle ground most of the time.  There are several points for those who like to play long range, but at the same time there are no completely sprawling views of any map that gives snipers an unfair edge.  There are choke points that snipers can take advantage of, but the maps are designed in such a way that there are multiple entries to a single control point; so good players should be able to make their way around.

No clear shots across the map.

Snipers can successfully defend a point from being entered, but most points are designed in such a way that once a player is in, the sniper won’t have a shot.  I found this very cool.  I like to play as a sniper when I don’t feel like getting in someone’s face, but it put more pressure on me to make sure I hit those shots (some between tight spaces) before an enemy was able to get to a point.  It takes no time to turn a control point over, so letting one person into a control point can turn the tide if someone can’t get in there and flip it back.

Each map has strategically placed cars, boxes, and various other objects to help you make it to your destination.  On that same coin, they provide a lot of places for people to hide and kill you when the opportunity presents itself.  While inside, the darkness provides you with strategic cover to a degree.  There is a level with a parking garage underground, and that has to be one of my favorite places for a  firefight in any game so far.  Not only do you have strategically-placed cars, but there’s lots of dark hiding places that you need to use to your advantage while making sure you don’t fall into an enemy trap.

When it’s quiet in certain parts of the map, it’s both nerve-wracking and exciting.  I can deal with gunfire, grenades, and footsteps all day, but when that stops and you’re looking into a parking garage filled with plenty of places to hide? When you have no idea where anyone is?  When you know that it takes half a second for you to die?  When you know one noisy footstep can end your life?  That your enemy can kill you before you can even see them?  That’s when it’s really game time and you need to show what you’re made of.

As much as  I bitched about the RPG, it’s really the only thing I have a problem with as of now.  Honestly, for every match where I had someone ruin my time with the RPG, I probably completed ten other matches while having a blast.  It’s a lot of fun, and the sound and graphics will come in due time.  I think it’s worth mentioning that while the gun sounds weren’t that impressive, the sound effects of bullets whizzing past your head and pelting a wall or the ground was well done at this point.  Those sounds definitely added to the tension of each fight and gave the feeling of suppression without any type of special effect.

This will be a game I play all through the beta and especially when it goes live.  I think NWI is on the right track (mostly) and the final product will be phenomenal.  For those that are put off by hardcore shooters because you are worried about playing poorly or the players smack talking, I have to admit the INS community is pretty awesome and won’t throw EVERY headshot in your face.  They seem pretty welcoming, so I encourage new players to check the game out.  Yes, there will be a learning curve, but in the end it will be a rewarding experience.  We’ll be keeping an eye on this one and updating as new features go live.

You can join the early access beta by preordering Insurgency at PlayInsurgency.com.

Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding
Jarret Redding

Executive Director

Jarret is Executive Director as well as one of the founding members of Mash Those Buttons. He plays all types of games, but tends to lean more toward FPS, Stealth, and Combat games.

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