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Review: Renegade Ops

Posted by on September 21st, 2011 | 8 Comments | Tags:

Renegade Ops comes from Avalanche Studios, the makers of 2010′s Just Cause 2. This time around, they’ve put out a twin-stick vehicular shooter. Your mission is to track down a Cobra Commander-type terrorist and put an end to his evildoing days. The gameplay is intuitive: Left stick moves, right stick shoots, L1 activates your special, R1 shoots your secondary weapon. If you kill enemies in quick succession, you set off a Damage Streak. Your Damage Streak score will increase as long as you’re inflicting damage (duh), and a multiplier increases every time you kill an enemy. In each of the nine missions, there are primary and secondary objectives to complete. The secondary objectives can be skipped, but the primary objectives are timed. If the timer reaches zero, game over, man. There are four playable characters, each with a unique special move and skill tree that can be filled out by leveling up. I wouldn’t call Renegade Ops a completely linear game, but it certainly pushes you in a certain direction the entire time you’re playing it. There were many times when I would explore a far-off nook on the mini-map only to be rewarded with nothing but dead ends. Some sort of exploration reward (collectibles, concept art, etc) would have gone a long way.

Avalanche Studio’s signature is evident in the vibrant environments and perpetual explosions that populate every inch of the game. The graphics are great for an isometric twin-stick shooter. Leaves waver in the wind as you speed by trees, electric lines crackle if you plow down the poles that connect them, and tire marks stain the ground if you turn too tightly. Buildings crumble if you ram into them (remember Blast Corps?) and every other environmental object is combustible. There’s so much going on that I often expect the game to slow down. Thankfully, though, it’s a relatively seamless experience; the action is nonstop. The only time I noticed a negligible amount of slowdown is when I played local multiplayer with the dynamic spitscreen option activated. Also, the game chugged a bit during online play with 4 people, but I’ll open that can of worms a bit later in the review.

On the sound side of things, Renegade Ops pleases for the most part. I was surprised at the lack of custom soundtrack support, because though the title screen theme is catchy, I barely noticed the music while playing through the campaign. All of the sound effects are spot on, and your ever-shooting machine gun never gets grating. Most of the story is told through comicbook cinematics with decent voice acting for the different characters. To be honest, I had higher hopes for Bryant, the Renegade Ops’s man in charge. Some of his banter is humorous, but a lot of it comes off as simply corny. I think it’s fair to characterize most of the game as corny. This is not to say Renegade Ops isn’t fun. To the contrary, the game is an absolute blast.

There are 9 missions in total that take about 15-20 minutes each to complete. Chances are, though, you’ll spend more than three hours with Renegade Ops. On hardcore difficulty, several of the missions will require a few attempts to tackle. The final mission in particular is a gauntlet that even Clint Eastwood would consider tossing his controller at. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the final cutscene went a long way towards making up for the frustration caused by Mission 9. If you’re having trouble beating Inferno on Hardcore or Normal difficulty, I’d recommend dropping down to Casual for the sake of seeing the conclusion yourself. After beating the campaign by my lonesome, I ventured online to see how it felt blowing stuff up with other Renegades by my side.

The first person I enlisted to play with me was my brother. I wanted to check out the Dynamic Splitscreen option. Rather than having your screen constantly halved, the Dynamic option allows two players to play on the same screen when close. When the two players part, the bar that splits the screen is placed in the middle of them, rotating according to the players’ relative location to each other. After playing about five minutes with it active, I found it disorienting as all hell. It looks cool at first and may sound nice in theory, but in practice it’s just plain confusing. I captured some gameplay to illustrate my point.

When my brother left me for his Azerothian duties, I hopped on the PSN to see how the game performed online. The first couple of games I joined went through without a hitch. I played with a couple of other people and we had a great time splitting up to complete secondary objectives then focusing our efforts on the main targets. Then came the hitches, hard and fierce. On several occasions, the game stalled while loading a mission and one person’s game would lock up. The game wouldn’t load until said person restarted his PS3, effectively leaving the game. Even then the game took upwards of five minutes to get past the loading screen abyss. There is also a known bug that essentially voids some of your upgrade points when playing online. The only remedy is to restart from scratch or choose a new character to progress.

Renegade Ops’s gameplay masks its technical bugs. The game is a blast and a half to play; some of the most fun I’ve had with a twin-stick shooter in a while. I didn’t mention the controls because they’re fine; they work. However, my car flipped often enough to be a nuisance. Sometimes I would be on flat land and somehow flip over. It only takes a couple of seconds to respawn, but in a game like Renegade Ops where the action is fast and furious, a couple of seconds feels like an eternity. Acting like a flipped turtle also ruins Damage Streaks, something that greatly aggravated the high score spirit in me. I think you should play Renegade Ops; I really do. If it weren’t for the spontaneous hardlocks and unreliable online functionality, the game would be outstanding. Unfortunately, I can’t pretend it didn’t force me to restart my system five+ times.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • Online is extremely buggy
  • Getting caught on environmental objects/flipping once a minute
  • Various other hard-locking bugs

  • CurphRogal

    Renegade Ops is beyond buggy. I have been playing a character off and on for the past week with all of the problems described. All of a sudden, none of my upgrades are working. Then I discover all of my R points have been erased, along with all of my unlocks. Totally too pissed to play the game. I’m so sick of developers rushing production, without first appropriately testing the game. I will stay away from future Avalanche Studios games. At least I didn’t blow $50 bucks on this garbage.

    • Eric G

      I’m not sure who’s to blame for the shoddy release but Just Cause 2 was my personal 2010 GOTY so I’m not going to write off Avalanche completely. The bugs are aplenty, though, and it’s especially frustrating because they ruin a game that I really want to play.

  • http://www.videogameobsession.com/ VideoGameObsession

    “A BUGGY GOOD TIME!”

    This game is a blast too play. It’s just a shame that the bugs are so plentiful!
    I’ve put about 20 hours into this game and have encountered more bugs in this game (serious bugs too) than in the last 10 PSN games I’ve played.

    Here are a few of the bugs they REALLY need to patch ASAP!!

    XP/Weapon bugs:
    If you start a single player game and build up XP/buy weapons and then try to play an online co-op mission you have about a 50/50 chance of losing all of your stats.*
    *THIS SUCKS!!

    1st Mission Helicopter:
    The first mission has a serious bug where if you grab the helicopter as soon as it appears, it doesn’t register with the game and it keeps telling you
    to go back to the helicopter even though you are already flying it.. All you can do at this point is wait for the clock to drop to zero and say GAME OVER… Terrible bug because it takes you about 20-30 minutes to get to that point.

    Online PS3 Locking Bug:
    Then you have other random bugs where the screen will go black during a cutscene and never come back on. Or when matching up multiplayer games
    your PS3 will just lock up.

    Level Score / Damage Score is not saving:
    As most people know, you can go back and replay any levels after completing them.
    The whole point of re-playability is to achieve high scores. Now after playing each of the levels from start to finish (successfully getting all the mission requirements) I realized it’s
    only saved the high level and damage scores for 1 *ONE* of the 10 levels!
    This makes it feel like a bit of a waste of time to replay any of the levels imo.

    I don’t know if this is a bug or not, but crashing through buildings and houses doesn’t seem to add anything to your Damage Score.. Isn’t that the point of going out of your way to plow through as many structures as possible?!

    In closing,
    They really need to start patching some of this! You would think Avalanche Studios could handle a DLC game after working on a game as huge as Just Cause 2, but I guess not.

    -VGO

    PS: Nice review. It’s good to see reviewers mention bugs when they are relevant to the game’s enjoyment!

  • http://slimgamer.com charles2029

    Nice review! I haven’t seen this many bugs since Terminator Salvation! Regardless, I think I’m still willing to give it a try, especially if they can get a patch out soon.

  • http://www.videogameobsession.com/ VideoGameObsession

    Renegade Ops BUGS:
    ____________________

    XP/Weapon bugs:
    If you start a single player game and build up XP/buy weapons
    and then try to play an online co-op mission you have about a 50/50 chance of losing all of your stats.*

    Stage 3 Bug:
    The On Screen Display shows “Equip Rail Gun” during the entire level.

    Game Over Screen Lock Up Bug:
    After “Game Over” screen appears you are unable to start a new game and it REQUIRES A REBOOT!

    1st Mission Helicopter Bug:
    The first mission has a serious bug where if you grab the helicopter as soon as it appears it doesn’t register with the game and it keeps telling you
    to go back to the helicopter even though you are already flying it.. All you can do at this point is wait for the clock to drop to zero and say GAME OVER… This is a terrible
    bug because it takes you about 20-30 minutes to get to that point.

    Online PS3 Locking Bug:
    Then you have other random bugs where the screen will go black during a cut scene and never come back on. Or when matching up multi-player games
    your PS3 will just lock up.

    Level Score / Damage Score is not saving Bug:
    As most people know, you can go back and replay any levels after completing them.
    The whole point of re-playability is to achieve high scores.
    Now after playing each of the levels from start to finish (successfully getting all the mission requirements) I realized it’s
    only saved the high level and damage scores for 1 *ONE* of the 10 levels!
    This makes it feel like a bit of a waste of time to replay any of the levels imo.

    System Locking Bug:
    The system has locked up completely on a few occasions of multi-player online play.
    Once while waiting for the game to start and another after finishing the level.

    A couple other issues that should be addressed:

    1. The blank screen after completing a level seems to last a lot longer than it should.
    It makes everyone think the game has locked up.

    2. The vehicle physics seem off when you flip over from hitting a rock.
    You end up on your back like a stuck turtle. While not a huge deal it can be
    very frustrating when you are being shot at by multiple enemies.

    3. If a player loses connection mid game it takes you out of the game and back to the title screen.
    You should be able to continue and finish a level if this happens. It makes you not want to play multi-player
    with the fear of losing all of your level progress.

    4. Crashing through buildings and houses doesn’t seem to add anything to your Damage Score.. Isn’t that the point of going out of your way to plow through as many
    structures as possible?!

  • http://www.twitter.com/k1rkpad Kirkpad

    Maybe I haven’t played enough/played online to encounter any bugs, but I found Renegade Ops to just be PURE fun.

    To answer the last question in the last comment, smashing through buildings can give you shortcuts to your location, as well as kill enemies who are shooting you out of those structures. The game isn’t Just Cause 2 where your GOAL is to destroy every structure. Remember that. ;D

    • http://www.videogameobsession.com/ VideoGameObsession

      Yeah, but it feels good to plow through houses and other random structures.
      In fact there should be a mission based on that. It has a real Blast Corps feel to it.

      The bugs are plentiful, but it doesn’t stop me from having fun with it.

      I just wish they would address and FIX them! It’s really sad to have all of your weapons and XP disappear on you when you enter a multilayer game or when you die in a mission you get thrown back to the title screen and no way to start a new game. WTF?! You have to quit to the XMB and restart it.

      Bugs like that make me wonder if they skipped the beta testing process altogether.

  • sp33dd34m0n

    Nice Review man.

    I really enjoyed playing this game and had a lot of fun. I found Hardcore pretty hard so I dedcided to beat the missions in the Multiplayer – That was a great misstake. Im at level 45-50 with all chars and lost all my XP. There are still 3 missions to go to beat the whole game on hardcore. There is actually almost no way to get the final Missions done without deleting the whole savegame file. It really sucks!

    If I had knewn this befor I had made backups of my savegame on a USB stick. So if someone reads this before he starts to play online, my advice: backup us savegame data!!!! Otherwise ur screwed. The game would be aswesome without this bug the freeze-issues. It costs only 10bucks on PSN store so its still worth the money.