The next Counter-Strike this is not, but Insurgency is still a terrific competitive first-person shooter that will keep you entertained for hours and hours.
Captivating the attention of competitive first-person shooter fans must be one of the most difficult tasks in the video game industry, especially if you’re an independent company with limited resources. After all, you’re competing with gargantuan titles such as Valve’s Counter-Strike, DICE’s Battlefield and Activision’s Call of Duty, among dozens of other shooters. Interestingly, Insurgency adopts gameplay ideas from most of the aforementioned titles, but its developers managed to create a familiar experience that feels fresh and original.
In Insurgency, you form part of a team (either Security or Insurgents) whose main objectives are to defeat the opposing team and capture objective zones. At the beginning of each round, you take on the role of a member of a squad and select your equipment. Naturally, this will determine they way in which you’ll behave on the battlefield. Each squad has different members and each of those members fulfills a specific role. Squad members include Specialists, Fighters, Sharpshooters, Machine Gunners, Marksmen, Bombers, Snipers, Support, Squad Leaders and so on.
At the same time, each of these members has specific equipment. So you start with a set number of supply points which can be spent on equipment and at almost any point during the game, you can use those points to change individual items, such as armor, vest, primary and secondary weapons, explosives and more. As you win rounds, liberate checkpoints and kill enemies, you acquire more supply points. Nevertheless, not only does better equipment mean better firepower and defense but also more weight (carrying an RPG on your back, for instance, will hinder your movement.) But the best part about this process is that changing your equipment gives you flexibility to adjust to different play styles.
Like in Counter-Strike, Insurgency let’s you play as a member of two opposing teams. But that’s not the only comparison that can be drawn between Insurgency and Valve’s popular first-person shooter. Insurgency has a very slow pace and dying means that you’ll spend a lot of time in spectator mode. And die you will. Like in most realistic shooters, one well-placed bullet is more than enough to kill you, so you’ll need to be very patient if you want to win each round.
Overall, there’s a variety of both cooperative and competitive modes to choose from. In Siege, you need to capture checkpoints and kill members of the opposing team. In Checkpoint, you capture checkpoints in the order they appear. As you liberate checkpoints, fallen teammates revive and when you reach the final checkpoint, you win the round. In Skirmish, the Insurgent and Security teams fight each other. In Firefight, you need to capture an objective so that your team can deploy. In Search and Destroy, you need to locate objective zones and destroy them. As in previous modes, destroying cache points revives fallen teammates. In Strike, one team defends and the other team attacks. In Push, three different objectives must be captured in sequential order. Finally, in VIP mode, both teams escort a VIP to a safe area.
It’s worth pointing out that in the cooperative modes, you collaborate with other people to defeat a team of bots. In competitive mode, on the other hand, you play against human players. The behavior of bots tends to be erratic. Sometimes waves of bots rush towards and other times, they spot you and start shooting even if you’re hiding behind walls. Still, playing against bots is the best way to prepare against human players.
As you probably guessed by now, coordinating attacks and communicating is a must if you want to win rounds and that’s what makes Insurgency such a gratifying first-person shooter. Planning a successful attack using voice chat, regaining a checkpoint (and therefore reviving all your teammates) when you’re the last man standing and patiently waiting in the shadows only to see your virtual prey recklessly come in is eminently satisfying. And luckily, Insurgency has dozens of moments like these.
Some aspects of the game are clearly oriented towards realism. For instance, there’s no way to find out when you’re about to run out of ammo, so if you aren’t careful, you’ll find yourself carefully aiming at an enemy’s head, only to hear that dreadful clicking sound. Also, most of the maps are in broad daylight and looking directly into the sun can blind you for a second or two. This is one of those cases when less is definitely more and the lack of a minimap, radar and health meter make Insurgency much more strategic.
There are some technical issues here and there and while the most prominent ones were fixed via patches, other problems persist. As a way of illustrating some of these technical issues, here are some examples: I respawned in a room full of bots that were already aiming at me, in another match our entire squad went inside a room that appeared to be empty and in less than a second, a platoon a bots respawned and killed all of us, the game crashed once or twice and sent me to the desktop and the list of examples goes on and on. Although there are still multiple technical issues, more of them weren’t pervasive enough to ruin my experience with the game.
Overall, Insurgency is a fantastic shooter. There are some technical issues that need to be ironed out and some specific modes aren’t very popular (such as VIP,) but I’m pretty sure the situation will change once patches roll out and more people buy the game. As of this writing, the game offers enough content to keep you entertained for hours and hours and what more can you ask for $19.99?