E3 2011: Renegade Ops

By Jeff Mattas, Jun 14, 2011 3:15pm PDT

QUICKTAKE: Renegade Ops is a top-down, twin-stick, vehicle-based shooter from Avalanche Studios that aims to recapture the fun provided by classics like Jackal and Desert Strike. By modifying the Avalanche Engine, the studio is able to leverage the same crazy physics and gorgeous explosions of their previous game, Just Cause 2. The game's main campaign can be played solo, but the real fun will be playing with friends. Senior producer Andreas Thorsén describes the multiplayer gameplay as "competitive co-op," because while up to four players share the same objectives, they're also competing against each other to achieve the best score.

THE DEMO: The four-player co-op level of Renegade Ops that I played at E3 2011 was set in a jungle environment in which my fellow compatriots and I raced to different sections of the map to complete primary and secondary objectives. Primary objectives usually amounted to leveling enemy encampments or destroying specific vehicles, but there were also hostages to rescue.

DETAILS: Each of the four playable characters in Renegade Ops has his/her own unique vehicle, each equipped with a unique special ability. I spent the majority of my time driving a heavily armored truck that had a giant mounted cannon on the back--very effective when I needed more power than the front-mounted machine guns afforded. I did spend a brief moment driving a much faster and agile (but lightly-armored) vehicle as well, and can confirm that both handled quite differently. One of the other players had a vehicle that could deploy a temporary shield. After driving it into an enemy encampment, he deployed the shield, allowing the rest of us to take out the enemies as they focused their fire on the protected vehicle. Though I didn't witness it firsthand, I was also told that one of the characters has the ability to deploy a powerful airstrike.

The action in Renegade Ops flows nicely, with the completion of one objective greeted promptly by another task. When players aren't battling with enemies, they're frantically racing (and boosting) across the map to beat their teammates to the next location. The jungle environment in the demo proved to be a fun playground, and the developers promise to deliver a "big" campaign.

Renegade Ops' proceedings are nicely rounded out with a compelling high-score system that's immediately evident on the battlefield. Destroying an enemy will cause a corresponding score to appear above the cloud of debris, and that score is color-coded to indicate which player has earned it. While this competitive aspect certainly encourages some kill-stealing, it also extends to special weapon pickups that can be found in the environment. Do I leave that machine gun power-up for my friend since my guns are already at maximum, or do I grab it for myself just to beef up my score?

I had a lot of fun during my brief time with Renegade Ops. My guess is that it will do a good job satisfying those in the market for a cooperative multiplayer shooter when it hits Xbox Live Arcade, PC (via Steam), and the PlayStation Network this fall.

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