Review

Insurgency Review

  • Game release: January 22, 2014
  • Reviewed: January 28, 2014
  • PC

In the trenches.

by

Another military online shooter? Don't groan and roll your eyes just yet. Despite being a stand-alone update on a seven-year-old Half-Life 2 mod, Insurgency's freshness runs deeper than its familiar urban warfare settings and "good guys vs. the terrorist infidels" trappings might suggest. This first-person multiplayer killfest pushes cooperative team play in interesting directions, using hyperrealism and a unique team role structure to drive its frenetic team-based firefights. Granted, it's not the slickest-looking shooter, but the dated look of these battlefields melts away as the intense tactical encounters heat up.

Like being shot in real life, it takes only a bullet or two to end your life in Insurgency. This makes getting dropped as you sneak out from cover or dart across an alleyway a jarring experience. Without any sort of map or radar system beyond your current objectives, you never know when you'll be caught in the crosshairs, or whether those bullets will come from the enemy or a trigger-happy comrade who mistook you for one. That alone doesn't make Insurgency's 16-on-16 team matches particularly unique, but the way this welcome realism extends throughout and enhances other aspects of its design certainly does.

When there's smoke, fire is not far behind

Minimal use of HUD elements enhances the excellent tension threaded throughout each match and makes it easier to get sucked into the flow of battle. There's no health meter. No crosshairs for aiming other than your equipped scope or iron sights. No frilly nonsense clogging up the screen. No hand-holding. Resurgence forces you to pay close attention to what's happening around you. Without scouting, proceeding cautiously, and gauging the proximity and direction of nearby gunshots, you're pretty much guaranteed to wind up as toast. The exciting sense of danger this instills is tangible as you move through each map's tangled network of choke points and open areas.

Direct shootouts are a thrill in their own right when you've got a large mass of opposing squad members pressure-cooking an objective zone or a pinned-down group working together to escape alive. Outside of these heavyweight encounters, it's rare that you get to see your attacker until it's too late--at least when you set off on your own. By the time you hear the pow-pow-pow of gunfire and catch a quick flash in your peripheral field of view, you're on the ground bleeding out. Racking up kills requires great skill, and thoughtful teamwork often plays a critical role in how long you stay alive.

This first-person multiplayer killfest pushes cooperative team play in interesting directions.

"Do you think we're overdressed?"

Insurgency's cool squad system is well designed to nudge you toward team cohesion without making it mandatory. You can go lone wolf and try to tackle objectives on your own, but working with your comrades is a far easier way to stay alive and push your squad across the victory line. It's also a lot more fun way to play that way, too. From the many numerous matches I dove into, I found that the online player community is far more engaged and communicative about combat tactics than in some other similar-themed shooters.

Plenty of classes offer distinct loadouts and roles to choose, ranging from assault and heavy support forces to snipers and demolitionists. The twist here is that there are a limited number of slots on a given squad for each class, and everything is on a first-come, first-served basis. You can use limited supply points to customize your class loadout with a few different guns, weapon upgrades, and secondary gear, but these upgrades stick within the wheelhouse of each class type.

Team makeup specifics change depending on the map you're playing and the side you're on, but everyone has a role to play. For example, you might find yourself to be one of the only two snipers in your group or a soldier who has smoke grenades or a particular type of explosive needed to complete a mission. This encourages each team member to step in line or face the wrath of your squadmates. It's not just about playing your part, though; your team can't persevere if everyone is dead.

Sneaky tactics are encouraged.

Most of Insurgency's game modes use permadeath as incentive to play super strategically and minimize the run-and-gun mentality of other shooters. In tactical operations, like Firefight and Search & Destroy, dying once kicks you into a spectator slot. You're stuck on the sidelines until your squad captures an objective zone, which allows you and your dead comrades to respawn as reinforcements. It's another neat wrinkle--one that makes matches feel fresh and entertaining but can also bog down the fun when you're just itching to shoot things. Sustained combat matches, like Skirmish, Strike, and Push, loosen the reins on this mechanic a bit, giving you more ways to earn reinforcements and stay in the action. Not every game mode is readily available on a consistent basis, however, if only because there are not a lot of players gravitating toward certain matches. VIP escort missions and the cooperative humans vs. swarms of AI mode are hard to hop into as a result.

Insurgency's cool squad system is well designed to nudge you toward team cohesion without making it mandatory.

A dozen different Middle Eastern map locales let you fight it out everywhere, from abandoned cities with tight alleyways and lots of structures to open forested mountaintops and snowy villages. Each area is well designed and full of nooks and crannies to use to your tactical advantage, and a handful of nighttime maps also add some nice variety. While the scenery and characters get the job done, they're nowhere as crisp, detailed, or stylized as those in other recent shooters. It can be an initial turnoff if you're used to more visually appealing offerings on the PC, but delving beneath the surface reveals Insurgency's strong team-driven focus and realistic gameplay to be the real gems here.

Intense tactical encounters filled with firefights and flying bodies prove thrilling enough to make it easy to look beyond Insurgency's less impressive visual design. The team dynamic and unique squad system inject something different into the mix too, offering match after match of absorbing cooperative killing that proves good looks aren't everything.

The Good
Unique squad and class system encourages player roles
Permadeath and reinforcements mechanic is a neat twist
Realistic focus entrenches you in the action
The Bad
Getting sidelined too soon for too long stinks
It's hard to find matches in some modes
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

First-person shooters and multiplayer pew-pew are in Nathan Meunier's blood. He's been fragging dudes since the early days of home-networked Doom II matches. For this review, he spent more than a dozen hours in match after match of tactical team action.

Discussion

23 comments
naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

If you like this game, you'll really, really like it.

This is the game that Tactical Intervention should have been.  It's not really like anything you've played before and it's incredibly tense and engaging, more than you might have thought possible in the modern days of FPS multiplayer.  I would even go as far as to say that if you like games like Arma, you'll probably enjoy this.  It's like a cross between that and Counter-Strike.

The guy's given it a 7, but it's one of those games that is far more than the sum of its parts, and ends up being more fun than it seems to deserve.  It's a tough call to give a number to a game like this.

At this price point, I would seriously advise people to give it a shot, it's only going to improve over the coming months.

R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

I would rate this much higher as it really is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is filled with clones. The multiplayer is really addicting. It's hard, but it's fair, everyone can get access to all weapons from the get-go, which you don't see in a lot of FPS anymore.


Also, this game costs less than DLC for BF or COD...

007nikster5
007nikster5

Wow, this guy rated this game way too low.

holtrocks
holtrocks

It's not hard to find matches for certain games if you use the server browser.

uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

Rated too low. As a team game, it's one of the best. It's requires actual team work. Something that cannot be said for Battlefield.

MacBoomStick
MacBoomStick

Of course you didn't mention the terrific sound design and weapon handling.

kidflash2000
kidflash2000

I'm sorry a game release of when??? Where did you get your TARDIS??

Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

No way! How'd you guys get this game 85 years early?

NoahRoalson
NoahRoalson

To be honest this looks nowhere near as good as the mod...

foxrock66
foxrock66

I remember when this was just a CS mod. Fun stuff even then

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@R4gn4r0k

And this is not a 'clone'?

To me, this game seems like yet one more entry to the saturated military shooter sub-genre.

But then, perhaps I - and Nathan Meunier - are more jaded than you are.

pcty
pcty

@with_teeth26Yes, it is coming in the same day as The Last Guardian and Half Life 3.

yepwatermelon
yepwatermelon

@Gelugon_baat @R4gn4r0kI fail to see how the game is a clone as the mod began development in 2002 and was released in July 2007, well before even the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. What point are you trying to make here? That your "jadedness" outweighs your ability to do simple research?

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@porcupeth123 Uh??

Oh! you missed the joke in the release date of the game up there. In hurry for a counter comment, are we? xD

Note: that would only work on a fanboy, not a proper gamer.

Insurgency

  • PC
  • Macintosh
Insurgency is a strategic, fast-paced, strikingly realistic first-person shooter that puts you in modern conflict zones.
Check out even more info at the Insurgency Wiki on Giantbomb.com
Average Score See all 12 Player Reviews
6.3
Please Sign In to rate Insurgency