Insurgency Review: No radar, no maps, no crosshairs, no problem
I've played my fair share of military online shooters. Insurgency, which has come a long way since I previewed it back in September 2013, is a tactical shooter that will appeal to the most hardcore of shooters. Fans of Red Orchestra and Counter-Strike will feel right at home, as it's a hybrid of the two. What started as a Half-Life 2 mod has been turned into a full-fledged online standalone game by New World Interactive.
Shooters aren't really slow and methodical anymore. They run and gun and have huge explosions and scenes that look like they're out of Michael Bay's wet dreams. Not Insurgency. If you want to get the most out of this shooter, you need to play as a team. There's no killstreaks to entice you to 'lone wolf' it. There's also no map or radar. Insurgency is unforgiving and doesn't hold your hand, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart.
First off, a well-placed bullet drops you in one hit. It's a waiting game after that, as you have to wait upwards of 20 seconds for reinforcements to arrive so you can get back into action. The bad news is that friendly fire can also take you out, so be careful running around a corner. Like I said, there's no map or radar, so the HUD is very minimalistic. There's no crosshairs unless you're aiming down the sights or using a scope – it's like Call of Duty hardcore game modes. When you enter a match, you'll choose the team you want to play on, and then choose a squad, each assigned a different color. Each squad has a limited number of slots available for each class, assuring well-rounded squads and team balance. What's great is the teamwork this enables, as players step up and take items and loadouts needed to win the match.
Speaking of loadouts, the game doesn't save your preferences. If you create a loadout you really enjoy, you'll have to set it every time. You don't create loadouts that you can change on a whim. Instead, you have a certain number of points to create your kit; guns, grenades, attachments – each take a certain amount of points. There's a positive and negative to this system. The positive is that everything is available to every player at the start; it really comes down to preference and what you like, as well as what your team needs. It really puts players on an even playing field. The negative is, like I said, there's no saving your preferences, and there's nothing you really work towards. Each match is its own single entity, and there's no carryover to the next. It's a staple to have some sort of progression or something to work towards, even if it's just a rank, and I want to feel like I'm working towards something – especially in a modern warfare shooter.
The settings are nothing new, and I think that's where the game might be the most disappointing. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia – I've been there and done that. But I guess this is just a bi-product of the type of warfare commonplace in today's world. I guess you can't have a first-person shooter with a focus on cyber-terrorism. The visuals are good enough, but as run of the mill as the setting is, the sound makes up for it. Quality sound effects help with immersion in the game, and the VOIP allows you to hear the chat from players within a certain proximity of you.
There's five multiplayer game modes, each focusing on something different – like controlling a point or destroying a weapon cache – and there's two cooperative game modes where you and friends can take on AI enemies to defend a base against waves or complete a missions. It's a solid variety of game modes, but you'll get stuck playing whichever server has people on it. Because the community, as of now, is not big. Passionate, yes. But big, no. I'd say there were two full servers, and then a couple of more that were half full. Edit: I have been told by the dev team that since launch, there are 500 concurrent players at a time, peaking at around 2,000 -- so the community is growing and servers shouldn't be a problem.
New World Interactive has a lot more planned for Insurgency, and it is refreshing to take a step back from the big blockbuster shooters into something that feels like it has more soul in it. It's not everyone's cup of coffee. It's an unforgiving shooter that is geared towards the more hardcore shooter fans, but there's little details that everyone can appreciate – whether it's peaking out from behind cover when you aim down sights or having to be mindful of friendlies when you toss a grenade.