Rating: ★★★★★

Arcade games have never been about story or characters or anything thought-provoking. The fact that popular franchises like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Pacman, Galaga and countless others have evolved these things is only a product of the undying fascination of hardcore fans and a never-ending supply of game iterations. Now, we play our arcade games at home, on a console, but the premise still exists through Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network titles.

Renegade Ops is the perfect example of a no-BS, freefall adventure that’s fun all the way down.

From the introductory video until the very last moment of the 9-level game, Renegade Ops openly shuns using your brain with the most straightforward plot imaginable: take down the bad guys. Everything else, like the army general who doesn’t care about politics going out on his own with a team of ‘renegades’, is all secondary. Just shoot to kill. Blow up whatever gets in the way. And have a blast doing it.

As those renegades, driving one of four heavily armed and armored vehicles, players must stop a maniacal madman bent on destruction. Or more appropriately, blow the hell out of everything and do it within the allotted time because there is, after all, some plot to follow. There’s no subterfuge or sneaky unknowns, just the team of renegades and their mission.

Each of the four characters has their own car and special ability, be it an air-strike or invincible armor, to wreak havoc on the enemy. Up to four players can get in on the action online. The destruction of civilian property isn’t encouraged…but it sure ain’t frowned upon. By any means necessary is an apt description of how to handle any situation. Anytime a character in the game has a doubt about how to do something, the general yells in his most manly voice, “Nah, we’re going in hot. Take them down renegades!” And you go blow stuff up.

As an action game, there’s very little that can compare to Renegade Ops currently on the marketplace. It’s very similar to Assault Heroes in scope: both have the Geometry Wars top-down dual analog stick shooter element, and both pit players in cars driving to certain destruction and doom. In those cars lies the weird, I’ve-gotta-get-used-to-it control of piloting something stuck on the ground. The cars have to turn in real time, and won’t just do it automatically, so it’s not only about which way you shoot but which way you’re driving. Thankfully the physics are made to keep vehicles upright, so it’s very hard to flip them over. Should that happen however, or if the car gets stuck somewhere, the game will respawn players within four seconds. It has never failed to do so, and that in itself is a technological achievement.

Alongside the destruction players earn points that go towards upgrading their vehicles and weapons with three abilities. Each new level helps add points to unlock new abilities, and some of those abilities are badass, like a second chance after you blow up where you’re invincible until you find some health, all without losing your life in the first place.

A health bar monitors your status while players have three lives per level. Across gigantic maps are plenty of secrets and occasional secondary missions to earn more points, though mission time limits tend to keep players from making Renegade Ops into an exploratory game. That, however, is not a bad thing, because it’s all about the action. So much so that developer Avalanche Studios intentionally distorts the game’s plot just for the sake of making the game slightly more awesome.

With logic like that, it’s hard not to like Renegade Ops. Yet from a gameplay and technical standpoint, the title maintains the same level of resolution: excellent gameplay, great visuals and architecture, good programming and solid mechanics…Renegade Ops has it all. Including our love.

Pros:

  • Fun, fast-paced gameplay with proper difficulty settings
  • A no-BS attitude that makes trivial nonsense obsolete
  • Excellent online play that can go on for hours and hours

Cons:

  • 5-6 hour campaign is relatively short for the price

Bottom Line:

  • If you like Arcade games, Renegade Ops will slap a smile on your face so hard, it hurts. Good.



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.