Avalanche Studios have garnered a good amount of success with their open world 3rd-person action franchise: Just Cause. And if you are a fan of over-the-top action, or fun games in general, then Renegade Ops is probably for you. To get a better idea: Imagine The Expendables plus Death Race, with about a thousand heapings of awesome poured on top and you have a general idea of what the moment-to-moment atmosphere of this game is. Renegade Ops is a game that does not try too hard to be something it isn’t; instead, the game focuses on offering consistent fun to the player.
Overall, this game really is one hell of a good time. The story does not go much deeper than you would expect (save for a pretty interesting twist near the end and at the very end) but it gets the job done. Basically, you are a renegade (mercenary type person that drives a cool car) and are led by your commander, General Bryant. Bryant is not satisfied with the less than aggressive stance being taken to the international terrorist, Inferno, so he instead decides to face off against him and his army with the four of you (the renegades.) You pick one of the four renegades to control, and level them up by racking up points during missions. You can then spend points to acquire different abilities to equip and take with you on a given mission. Some missions even give you the ability to leave your ground vehicle behind, and instead take to the air in a fast and deadly chopper! These are some of the most fun parts of the game!
The story is presented in comic book style cutscenes, with voice overs put over them. Some of the cutscenes are in game cinematics, but not usually. During missions you get dialogue coming into an intercom type system where characters flesh out their stories and motives, etc. This is an effective way for them to tell the story, as it is just as stylized as the rest of the game. It also seems the time they saved doing this was put into making a solid game that is sure to attract a lot of positive reception.
The game is split into 9 missions total, each of which take place on large maps full of enemies and objects to blow up. Each mission is on a brand new map, although every map may not be a completely new setting. You have pretty much all of the environments you could ask for with Jungles, Deserts, Factories, Underground Bases, etc. The only setting I would have liked to see in this game was a snowy mountain of kind, seeing as how beautiful the snow areas look in Just Cause 2, I was surprised Avalanche opted out of doing those environments.
Which brings me to the graphics: they’re fantastic. Given the camera angle and distant view, you really do not see a whole lot of detail on most of the objects in the game, but they really do look nice. All of the renegade vehicles, enemies, buildings, and especially the explosions look absolutely amazing in this game. One of the most surprising parts, actually, is that the game during my review never suffered from any stutters or anything at all. From start to finish this game looks amazing, but thankfully that won’t make you disappointed about having to destroy and mutilate all of it! Some of the minor details really set this game apart from some of the other offerings out there, like tire tracks when skidding around (or blood tracks when running over people) and watching buildings topple over when you drive through them. Greatness is in the details, and for the most part, this game delivers.
The game controls like most dual-stick shooters out there (think Geometry Wars, if you are unfamiliar) as the left stick controls movements and the right stick controls your primary weapons firing. The trick, however, is to realize that you are driving a vehicle with traction and physics to account for while steering, not a space ship that floats around. This means that circling enemies while firing can get tricky and turning corners can be tough as well, as in the first couple missions it can be very difficult to maintain control of your vehicle. R1 fired off your secondary weapons (Rockets, Rail Gun or Flamethrower) and then L1 deploys your special ability, which defers by renegade that you choose. Finally, pressing X activates a nifty turbo feature for getaways or getting to an objective quickly.
Most reviews of games like this would say something like “puzzles did a good job of breaking up the action” or, “chase scenes were fun and provided a rest from the primary action scenes” but that is, for the most part, not the case here. Which bring me to my only real issue with the game: it gets EXTREMELY repetitive! The game pretty much throws the same formula and same enemies at you throughout the entire game, with only slight variations. Additionally, I felt like there could have and should have been more missions to offer more variety. Granted, the game is downloadable and they cannot offer you too much content at the relatively low price point, but I feel like shorter missions (they run about 30-minutes long in this game) plus more of them, would create a much more enjoyable game. That being said, I cannot fault them too much for delivering one of the most entertaining arcade style games I have played in a long time.
The music gets the job done as well, just like any action movie, you probably wouldn’t expect the score to be too emotionally breathtaking or anything. The voice acting is done well enough and the sound effects are fine, although the generic gun sound does get annoying after a while, since you will be constantly shooting for about 99% of the game. They could have had more variety in the sound, or maybe have it a bit quieter or something. As far as value goes, I would definitely say it is a pretty great deal.
I should also mention the game has split screen multiplayer (which seems to be a dying feature) as well as online coop. The game gets a lot more fun and crazy with other people involved, so it is definitely recommended. The game is selling for $15 on PSN and Steam, as well as 1200 MS Points in the XBLA. If I were you, I would get a few friends together and have a good time blowing sh*t up in this blast of a game!
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sega.