A couple of months ago, former Steam mod and current retail game Insurgency was introduced to the world as a Early Access title that promised to expand upon its strongest points to make a well thought out multiplayer shooter. Considering Insurgency's pedigree as one of the most popular Source mods to be released, fans of the game see these promises a tall order to accomplish. Insurgency delivers on what the mod did exceptionally well, creating a slow paced, strategy focused military shooter that feels crisp and responsive. Though a feeling permeates in the back of your head that it could have been so much more.
Military shooters with a focus on tactical gameplay a-la late 90s Rainbow Six seemed almost en vogue last year, seeing a peak in quality with Rising Sun and the bottomless pit of glitches and bugginess that was the Kickstarted Operation Takedown: Red Tango. Saying that Insurgency delivers what Rising Sun strives to do is unfair to the developers of Red Osfront, but it is leaps and bounds superior to Takedown and exists in the middle of the pack.
The combat from the original Insurgency feels more or less intact from the original mod which will be fantastic news for fans. It is paced well and most of the maps are small enough to keep the action relatively fast despite being a slow moving shooter. The modification system is refined and varied enough to give players a different experience as they march through each game mode. Still present are the set number of classes for each team, ranging from the all familiar Sniper to the close quarters Assault class. It all works fine together but it feels very similar to the original mod which was fantastic in of itself, don't get me wrong. However, for a retail release one would expect a little more than a simple reinvention of the wheel.
Instead, it plays like a by-the-numbers Insurgency game. For new players, it's a military focused shooter with an emphasis on a slow pace and quick deaths. Positioning is key as is learning the layout of each map in order to be an effective soldier. Those looking for something even slightly different, Insurgency may leave them wanting. Instant gratification isn't guaranteed as more time is spent waiting for enemies to appear.
Weapons feel well balanced and, most importantly, useful. Assault rifles are a soldier's bread and butter soldier, SMGs for those wanting a high rate of fire and quick movement, and a scoped weapon for snipers. Just like the previous Insurgency games there are limits placed on classes for balance reasons, in order to keep each player in a team from choosing the sniper class and effectively ruining the game. What this means is that it may take some time before you fully grasp how each weapon works as you are forced to juggle between classes as openings pop up. Of course it's possible to join an empty server to keep character slots open all the time, but the game is meant to be played with others. Without them, the slow pace becomes even more unbearable.
A new game mode introduced to Insurgency is Cooperative vs. AI mode. As the name suggests, a group of human players go up against bots that swarm your team as you work through one of the many maps taking key points and waiting for the inevitable assault from the opposing team. It's reminiscent to Left 4 Dead, where triggering an event to progress further causes enemies to pour onto the map. It's a novelty for sure but there's never a sense of tension as bots wander almost aimlessly up to your team making them easy to shoot. Furthermore, bots are incredibly predictable, some making no attempt to take cover from enemy fire. The dull and unintelligent tactics by the bots is saved only by their pinpoint accuracy.
Insurgency is a competent multiplayer shooter which is always a wonderful thing to see these days. The things that Insurgency does well can already be found in its original Source mod form while the new changes are not substantial enough to really make the game something worth trying out unless you're completely wet behind the ears or looking to scratch an Insurgency itch.