Based on a mod of Half-Life using the Source Engine, INSURGENCY (originally called Operation: Counter-Insurgency) was a squad based, modern combat FPS released in 2007 by the same people who made the original Red Orchestra mod. Since then the team hasn’t sat still. With the idea of making the game more accessible and graphically impressive, they began work on INSURGENCY 2 (later renamed to just Insurgency) which recently saw release on 22nd January 2014.
Having built up nearly 100 hours since I bought it four weeks ago, it’s safe to say that this is one of my favourite FPS games since Counter-Strike: Source was released. Drawing heavily on the squad-based combat of CS:S, Insurgency endeavours to add more realism and tactical importance to Counter-Strike’s more arcade elements. This isn’t a game to be taken lightly. Categorised under the term “hardcore”, Insurgency is indeed hard. One small mistake, one step out of cover, is all it takes to leave you staring at someone else playing the game for up to a minute. And there is nothing more frustrating than watching someone who doesn’t know or want to play the game properly, while you sit helplessly dead and unable to communicate with them.
You see, Insurgency is an objective-based game. There are no deathmatch or team deathmatch game types. It’s all about working together and communicating efficiently to capture and hold territories, defend/destroy key points or protect/eliminate a VIP. This means there is nothing more aggravating than spectating the last living player on your team sitting on top of a hill with a sniper rifle, watching the enemy capture the last territory to win the game. Despite this however, Insurgency is a game that actually rewards camping most of the time. Finding a clever defensive spot or a hidden approach to an objective is by far the most effective way to defeat the enemy. This is not Call of Duty and charging head first into a fire fight is the best and quickest way to get yourself killed. Work with your team, call out targets and watch each other’s backs if you want to win.
In terms of style, the game draws heavily from the likes of Red Orchestra and Rising Storm. There is no cross-hair and iron sights are the only reliable way to aim. There are a variety of weapons to choose from, based on the class you choose at the start of the game. The basic classes are Rifleman for Security and Fighter for the Insurgents, with standard weapons being the M16A4 and AKM respectively. The weapons are well crafted and balanced, with each one having it’s own pluses and negatives. For example, the AKM is powerful and able to lay down a lot of fire, making it a perfect assault weapon for clearing rooms and corridors. However, when firing over range the recoil makes it all but useless. Countering this, the M16A4 is an excellent medium range weapon providing accuracy and significantly less recoil. However, despite the burst fire mode, it is still inferior to the AKM in tight spaces. In order to balance the weaponry even further the game also allows for each player to add attachments and upgrades to their weapons before the round starts. Heavy barrels and foregrips reduce recoil while AP bullets and silencers allow for highly effective stealth kills. When playing in a well-coordinated team this lends itself well to tactics, with the SMG wielding Specialists capping the points while the longer ranged Designated Marksmen and Snipers cover them.
Interestingly the development team chose not to include kill notifications and recently removed the ability to see kill to death ratios outside of spawn points. This significantly adds to the realism game mechanic of Insurgency as sometimes you’re not sure whether the person you were shooting is actually dead or not, especially as they could be wearing heavy body armour. This uncertainty is a large part of the game and leads to difficult situations when you’re never sure which direction the enemy might approach from.
Ultimately, the only downside to this game is the number of maps. Currently there are only seven (which are sometimes changed slightly for the different game types) and after playing as long as I have you start to know how best to move between cap zones without being seen or where most people will sit when defending. Fortunately the dev team are very involved with the ongoing progress of the game and I have no doubt that they will soon be introducing more maps, if not more weapons, attachments or other goodies.
In the end, this is a great breath of fresh air for modern warfare gaming, providing something for fans of Red Orchestra who are dismayed by the run and gun arcade mechanic offered by other titles. Highly recommended for those who want to put in time and effort for a very rewarding FPS experience.