Should I be excited about… Insurgency
Insurgency is an online first-person team-based shooter for or Windows PC and Mac OS X. It’s the sequel to the Half-Life 2 mod also called Insurgency. The main hook of this game is it’s realistic approach. From its one shot kills to its amazing 3D sound effects, the developer New World Interactive have tried to make Insurgency as authentic as it can be.
Insurgency, which currently is undergoing Alpha testing, takes place during the 2003 Iraq war. You can play as one of two belligerents: Security and Insurgents. The Security team is based on private security forces which use US made weapons such as the M16 assault rifle, and the Insurgents use Russian made weapons like the AK47. Each team has three different classes: light, medium and heavy. The main difference between these types is speed and protection. The light class can run fast but is very vulnerable to gun fire, while the heavy class is slow but can take more damage. Even though the heavy can take more damage it doesn’t really matter much as even if your a heavy a single bullet will kill you if you are hit in the correct place.
It is this attempt at realism that sets Insurgency apart from similar games like Modern Warfare and Counter-Strike. Most deaths are due to being hit by only one bullet. Yes you can survive a hit or two if you are hit in a non lethal/protected part of the body, but there’s not many of those. Most times a player will be killed without seeing who shot them. One second you are running across a street, the next you’re watching your body hit the floor. Grenades and other explosive appear to be more lethal in Insurgency than in other games. Throw a grenade into a room, and unless it’s a large hall everyone in it will be killed. This realism means that players have to be more cautious when attacking the enemy. They need to take their time advancing, using the games peek feature to look round corners. This peek feature is really handy as it allows the player to look round corners without the need to expose their whole body.
The realism can have its drawbacks. It can be hard to tell friend or foe apart. In some servers their name will appear the same team colour that you are in, but it is in really small writing. Some servers have this disable meaning that you have to recognise the character models. This isn’t easy when this game requires split second reflexes to take out an enemy. This means that team killing happens a lot in this game. In most servers you get punished for team killing. Kill too many and you get kicked. This might not sound like an issue, but I’ve been kicked more than once because I was killed while throwing a grenade which then exploded killing my team.
The weapons themselves are also more realistic than your usual shooter. They are inaccurate unless fired in short bursts. Hold down the fire button and your gun will spray bullets everywhere and hit nothing. There are upgrades that can improve a guns accuracy, but even then you still need to fire in short bursts. There is no aiming reticule on the screen either, so the player will need to look through the gun sight to accurately aim their gun. This makes firing from the hip almost impossible unless you get the laser sight assist which places a red dot on where you are pointing. To keep with the weapons realism there is no ammo count on the screen. Instead you are required to keep count on how many bullets you have left in each mag. That can get hard while in a middle of a fire fight. A lot of deaths happen due to players forgetting their bullet count and exposing themselves with little to no bullets in their gun.
Each side has five gun types. Four primary weapons and a pistol. These include an assault rifle, rifle, submachine gun, shotgun, and pistols. Each weapon has its own unique playing style, though most will stick to using the assault rife. There are also explosive weapons that can be bought. These come in two types: one-off explosives and resupplied ones. The resupplied weapons are grenades. The player can choose between flash bangs, smoke grenades, and frag grenades. After you use one and then respawn you will be supplied a new one without having to buy it again. One-off explosives can only be used once after which the player has to rebuy them again. These weapons are C4 detonators and the RPG7.
Currently there are three game play modes: Occupy, Firefight, and Elimination. In Occupy the two teams fight for control of the map. It pays like a team based king of the hill game mode. There are three points to capture. One each is placed near each teams spawn and the third is in the middle of the map. The more points a team has captured the quicker their point tally will increase. The first to 1000 wins the round.
Firefight requires each team to capture all five points in the map. The first team to capture all the points wins. Capturing all the points can be tricky as some of the points are close to the enemy teams spawn point.
Elimination plays a lot like the hostage rescue maps from Counter-Strike. Instead of hostages, each team either has to secure and item and bring it back to their teams extraction zone, or wipe out the enemies team. It’s the only mode in which the player doesn’t respawn till the start of the next round.
Graphically the game looks decent but dated. It’s using the Half-Life 2 Source engine. It looks a lot like Counter-Strike Source which came out almost 9 years ago. The player models look good, but it can be hard to tell the two teams apart, especially from a distance or a night map.
The sound in this game is amazing. It’s easily the best use of sound that I’ve heard in any First Person Shooter. The game needs to be played using a good pair of headphones. The reason for this is that all the audio in the game is in 3D. When you hear gun fire you can tell which direction it came from. It’s even possible to tell how far away the shots we fired. This helps a lot as without any radar on screen it’s the only way to locate an enemy out of visual range. Each teams weapon sounds are unique so it is easy to tell who is firing. You can also hear the sonic booms of bullets which are whizzing by your ears. It’s a great feeling, running between cover while hearing the cracks of bullets missing you. It’s not just the sound effects that make great use of the 3D audio. Team chat also uses it. This means that you only hear someone within hearing distance. If someone’s character is behind you when they speak you will hear them as if they are over your shoulder in real life.
The game still is in Alpha so there are some bugs, like the hilarious ragdoll bug that makes some dead players leap into the air. The game could do with more game modes, and removing the punishment for team kills after the play has died. Despite these niggles, the game shows a lot of promise. If you want a more realistic team based shooter then this is the game for you. Features like the peaking round walls and the great use of 3D audio make this game more than a COD or Counter-Strike clone.
One other small issue is that there are not that many servers yet so it can be hard to find a game right now, but hopefully more will be added as the game moves out of Alpha.