Review: Renegade Ops (PS3)

Title: Renegade Ops
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: September 14, 2011
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: T

You know the drill, there’s a madman on the loose, threatening peace and stability throughout the world and the politicians aren’t doing anything about it. A highly decorated officer resigns in disgust and goes rogue, and that’s where you come in.

Renegade Ops brings back the three quarter overhead perspective in a vehicle based combat game. The last game series to successfully pull this off (in my opinion anyway) was the Strike series of games from EA throughout the 90’s. But with those games, from Desert Strike on the SEGA Genesis right through Nuclear Strike on the original PlayStation, you were limited to a helicopter throughout the entire game. Renegade Ops seems to borrow heavily from that series but they’ve updated everything, including your vehicles which are mainly (but not all) land based.

When the game starts up, you’re given the choice of one of four different characters, each with their own Special Ability. Armand can deploy a shield for temporary invincibility, Diz (my personal favorite) can fire off an EMP, temporarily disabling enemies in the area, Roxy can call in a devastating air strike bringing rockets down on the entire area and Gunnar has a heavy gun mounted on top of his vehicle in place of the standard machine gun.

Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and their own upgrade paths. It’s good to try out each for a round or two and see which fits your play style best.

As you play through each level, you’ll gain XP for taking out enemies and building up kill streaks and eventually you’ll level up, giving you more firepower during that round. The more times you level up in a round, the more Upgrade Points you earn which become very important because between rounds you can spend those Upgrade Points on Offensive, Defensive and Tactical Upgrades. Each of the three paths is different for the four characters and plays to their strengths. It’s a pretty straightforward system that won’t get you bogged down when all you want to do is get back to the action, since action is what this game is really about.

For the most part, the game is a twin stick shooter, with the left stick controlling movement and the right stick controlling the roof mounted machine gun. R1 will fire off your character’s special ability and L1 is reserved for weapon power ups you can pick up during the rounds which include a flamethrower, a rocket launcher and a rail gun. You can also use X to boost your speed for a short time. The vehicles all handle pretty well for the most part but they do take a bit of getting used to. You may roll off a cliff from time to time but your vehicle will always right itself automatically.

During each round, you’ll be given a number of primary and secondary objectives. The trick here though is that the Primary Objectives all have time limits on them and eventually a timer appears onscreen forcing you to take care of them. It adds a great sense of urgency and strategy to the missions in a game that could have been just a soulless run and gun type of affair.

Taking on the enemies throughout each level is an absolute blast. It’s immensely satisfying to wipe out an entire base or several large enemy tanks. Health pickups and power ups are left in the wake of your destruction giving you everything you need to take on the next group of bad guys. It’s really an excellent game with varied environments and missions with a (somewhat over the top) story weaving it all together.

Renegade Ops looks absolutely gorgeous. As you can see from the screenshots, the level of detail in the environments and enemies is fantastic.

Levels are introduced through motion comic style cutscenes that have a really great style to them. During the levels, as you receive instructions about your next objective, a small comic book style panel will open and continue that same look. It’s a great touch that adds to the overall feel of the game.

Your vehicles leave tracks in the dirt as you drive around. Each of the enemies you face have a distinct look making it easy to pick out the larger threats in any given area. Explosions and smoke look as good as any full disc based title. Lighting and shadows are spectacular throughout and even with all the explosions and chaos on the battlefield, especially in co-op, there’s never any slow down in the game at all. It runs along smooth as silk which makes it all the more impressive.

So the voice acting is over the top, what do you expect in a game like this? It actually fits the style of the Renegade Ops quite well. Vehicles and weapons all have distinct sounds that fit perfectly. As your machine guns upgrade, they sound heavier and more deadly, it really helps put you right in the thick of the action.

The music in the cutscenes has a nice dramatic feel to it, accentuating the story being told. During the game, it’s always there in the background but it’s much more subtle and it swells at the more dramatic moments. It’s all very well placed.

You have the ability to play split screen two player local co-op or up to four players online. Setting up or searching for a game is dead simple. You can make a match public or private and invite your friends.

When it works, the online is outstanding. There’s not a hint of lag or slowdown at any point, even in the most chaotic parts of the game. We did unfortunately run into a number of problems. Two people in our party got black screens after a mission and had to restart the game, one got locked up in the middle of a mission and after the third level, we all got knocked out.

This doesn’t seem to be an isolated thing either as we’ve received reports of this happening across a number of games. This is something that really needs to be patched because the game was made for four players and it’s so much more fun with a group of friends. Like I said, when it works, it’s silky smooth and probably one of the best online experiences I’ve had on the PS3, but when it fails it can be utterly frustrating.

Renegade Ops is easily the best of the four PLAY titles that came out over the last month and one of the best PSN downloads this year. The production values, gameplay, level progression and power ups all combine to make a fantastic package. There’s still the nagging issue of the online hiccups that really need to be addressed and that keep it from being a full “A” game, but if that gets patched up I’ll quickly come back and raise the grade.


Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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