|Release: September 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
When you were a kid, if you ever gathered up all of your Hot Wheels in one place and start crashing them into each other, making gunfire sounds and pretending that they were awesome battle vehicles with roof-mounted turrets and under-the-hood missile launchers, then you know exactly what Renegade Ops feels like. If you didn't, then you were probably a horrible little soulless child without any imagination. Either way, Renegade Ops is that type of car crashing, explosive fun.
The game opens by telling its story through a motion comic-style cutscene. The evil Dr. Inferno (I don't actually know if there is a Dr. in front of his name, but he somehow sounds more menacing if I call him that) is out to blow up cities because that's just what evil dictators do. He threatens the U.N. in some vague and undefined but still bone-chilling way. The U.N. is ready to cave in to his demands until General Bryant steps up to say "No!" Of course, the U.N. is filled with girly men who don't believe in Bryant's "shoot everyone until the bad guys give up" philosophy, so Bryant is forced to resign from the nameless U.S. analog country's military. He then chooses to round up a band of crazy mercenaries to go after Dr. Inferno themselves. Since this is a video game, where protagonists have diplomatic immunity from the foreign policy fallout that would occur if a band of mercenaries went rogue to kill an evil dictator, this is obviously the best course of action.
Something tells me that the design team for Renegade Ops just took everything good from every other dual-stick shooter and put it in a blender until they got a Michael Bay explosion smoothie. You take control of one of four armored vehicles with turrets on the top. You drive with the left stick and shoot with the right stick, and this is the basis of most of the gameplay. You press the X button to activate turbo, which lets you drive super fast but makes it harder to shoot, and you press L1 to activate your special ability, which can do anything from calling in an air-strike to granting temporary invincibility. You can activate your special ability any time your meter is full, and the meter just recharges over time.
You start with a measly little pea shooter of a gun, but as you tear apart the enemy, you collect power-ups that increase your gun's fire rate and spread area. You'll also pick up secondary weapons like grenades and missiles, which you can fire with the R1 button. You'll also earn experience as you go through the game, and earning enough experience allows you to level up. Leveling up earns you upgrade points which you can then spend on pimping out your rig. Each character has three totally different upgrade trees for you to choose from. So while different characters play similarly at level 1, at level 20 each character is firing different weapons, driving at different speeds, and using unique skills that no other character has access to.
When you drop into the game, you are immediately given an objective by Bryant through motion comics that pop up over the action. Your objective always tends to be something along the lines of "blow something up," "avoid dying,"or "bring cargo from point A to point B," but every objective has a time limit. As the clock ticks down, the action will go black and white and dramatically slow down to let you know you're taking too long.
Now, normally I would criticize this style of gameplay for being shallow and repetitive, but Renegade Ops mixes it up by giving you multiple objectives at once, each with its own time limit and win conditions. Different colored arrows point to these various objectives, and you will routinely find yourself juggling many missions at once. You'll be hammering on the turbo button to get to checkpoints, blazing through enemy fire, and making daredevil jumps off cliffs, just so you can complete your objectives on time. It's fun, and it really gets the adrenaline rushing.