By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Realistic games are a rare thing, especially coming in the form of a first person shooter. When I heard about Insurgency and the chance to play in the alpha, it didn’t take me long to say yes. The fps genre and shooters in general have always been one of my favorite categories of games and I’ve wasted more hours of my life than I should be proud of sampling the various options. But while the genre has recently been pushing further into the science fiction end of the spectrum or otherwise totally cartoony, Insurgency pushes realism harder than anything in recent memory. In that sense you get the feeling that the developers attacked this project to build a game they personally wanted to play rather than just what was currently proven successful by others in the market.
What started out in 2007 as just a mod to Half Life 2, Insurgency has grown into its own standalone game purely by popular demand. Its total downloads reached over a million and at its height of popularity received the ModDB “player’s Choice Mod of the Year”. And here we are 6 years later and the game is in alpha waiting to release as a standalone game. So in today’s overcrowded market what would make you want to even look at another new shooter? Well if you’re someone who has grown sick of the engrossing stories, rollarcoaster style presentation, or just players one-upping you by bunnyhopping in circles spraying their automatic rifle, Insurgency is your light at the end of the tunnel. This game isn’t just a game where you can wildly sprint through the enemy’s fortification and think you’ve got a 50/50 shot of killing the enemy first. No Insurgency actually takes skill, tactics, and teamwork to overcome the opposing team.
What is Skill?
To clarify I’m not saying you need to be the best sharpshooter in the world to hold your own in Insurgency. Sure, knowing where to aim even though you lack a crosshair is a good thing to have, but without the knowledge and the planning, you are still one of the brainless spray and pray players that the genre’s community has become infected with. Insurgency lets you experience the excitement and realism of what real soldiers might be experiencing. The choice to peak around an unknown corner can get you a quick bullet to the skull before you know what hit you.
Sure, it is still a game and a real soldier might be laughing at me even saying this, but so far this game brings the intensity and suspense like nothing else. One well-placed bullet can completely eliminate your target and disrupt his team’s plans, and that is what makes Insurgency so exciting. Games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield claim to be realistic shooters, but these games aren’t truly. Don’t get me wrong here, both of these games are really awesome shooters but they are missing the real feeling that you know you aren’t just a meat bag holding a gun.
Now let’s go into the most hated thing in first person shooters, which is camping. This term is given to players that sit in one corner the whole match shooting at any player that might cross their field of vision. Sure in some of the games named above you might be called an idiot for doing that, because well they will see you as a fun disturbing player. But ask any military veteran, and they will call you crazy not to be one of these ‘campers’. Sure you will spawn 10 seconds later and you can try to get yourself going again, but you will keep dying over and over if you sprint like a headless chicken. Just as in a real war, every step you take will matter. If you make one stupid mistake, you will most be on your way to face-planting the dirt. Just as I said before, you will have to contemplate and plan every step and transfer from cover to cover to succeed.
Of course a game would be pretty stale if you just had a bunch of players playing the patience game waiting for the other to slip up first. Instead coordinating with your allies to offer suppression fire and tactical sprints through open ground to new camping spots is vital to giving your side greater area of control on each map. Just realize you are not going to be able to spin circles in the middle of the street wiping out an entire enemy squadron with a series of no-scope kills. Like a well-oiled machine, a well-coordinated team will be able to push the enemy back and secure objectives by working in perfect unison to outplay their enemies. As such Insurgency’s scoring system rewards teams for how successful they are in driving back enemies and taking objectives rather than the typical kill-death ratio.
With the use of multiple weapons such as automatic rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and sniper rifles, you will find your gameplay changes drastically depending on the weapon you bring to a fight. Snipers will need massive map awareness and spend their time picking off front line opponents preparing that aren’t as perfectly covered as they imagined. Those that can keep a cool-head under fire though might opt for the submachine gun/grenade combo to blow enemies out of heavily fortified positions. Enough utility tools exist in this game to give veteran players some pretty wild tactics that will keep you guessing on the receiving end for many hours while you get your bearings in Insurgency. Of course this further adds to the suspense and thrill of each battle as the maps are cleverly designed to offer various ways to offensively tackle or defensively protect each objective. Moving down a dark hallway never felt like such a stressful endeavor in other shooters.
Insurgency is not to be taken lightly. I promise with my countless hours spent in various shooters, I’ve never felt a game bring this level of emotion and realism before. Insurgency turns the genre from rewarding twitch masters and making each player feel like a chess piece on a board where the better team leader wins, so long as one of your allies isn’t the weak link that destroys your goals. With three different available classes that give you either more agility, armor or weapon control, you will really have to think through what kind of weapons and role you intend to play on your team each match. That said the game won’t be for everyone. If you get your kicks being the hero and shooting endless ammo into every dark corner, you’re going to probably find Insurgency too slow-paced overall. But those seeking well aimed shots to instantly end fights and long shoot-out standoffs, Insurgency delivers big time and still has plenty of time to further polish the systems before full launch. Though if you can’t wait like I couldn’t, you can jump in now via the Steam Store and make sure your voice is heard to push the development of the game in the direction you envision.