Written for Haywire Magazine
Blown out cars and windswept debris welcomes yet another modern FPS as Insurgency reclaims the middle eastern theater, minus some helpful HUD settings. Without crosshairs to aim through or radars to glance at, teams of insurgents face off against allied forces to either hold control of weapons caches, or destroy and defend them.
There’s also a protect the VIP mode, but efforts there are futile without excellent team cooperation. Something about gamer psychology just doesn’t gel with a game mode involving self-sacrifice. In its other areas, however, Insurgency incentivizes communication quite well. With little help from an interface, microphone chatter becomes an integral part of a match, even with complete strangers.
Call out enemy positions, and just as importantly, call out your own. Friendly fire is real and surprisingly common given the lack of onscreen aids. Part of the reason for that is the excellent sound design. Footsteps are loud (though cheaply pronounced), and gunfire is terrifying. The mean cracking of a SAW machine gun is going to put people on edge, to say the least.
Iraq being the inspiration with its ghost towns, markets and mountain villages, environments prove large enough to make snipers feel at home, but the ability to sprint indefinitely also means close combat can be found in short order. The choice between Russian rifles and Army issued firearms likely means more to the gun connoisseur than the competitor, as everything is quite lethal. Nasty weapon climb can have you easily losing targets in your iron sights, however, so kills aren’t guaranteed.
The idea behind objective control in Insurgency is well intentioned and, for the most part, effective. Dying brings you to spectate mode until the next round begins, or the completion of a map objective. For example, a player who captures a control point will cause his team to respawn, giving your team a chance to regroup and win. This can create an intense back and forth between two teams who continually reinforce themselves. It gets spectators amped to jump back in instead of laying their headset down and looking for food. However, one occurring possibility here is that someone can - if they expect it - position themselves to mow down a fresh respawn from the enemy. It might get you kicked from a server, but the issue is mentionable.
Capturing objectives isn’t as creative. Insurgency uses the same concept from more relaxed shooters where control means converting a zone upon stepping into its area. If an enemy walks in there with you, the conversion process halts. Given the combat’s semi-realism, it kind of ruins the atmosphere to have games decided by a guy hiding on top of a potted plant in the corner of an objective zone. Forget how smart your team plays a match, if one enemy walks into that 2-room garage and begins to capture your objective, you’ll lose half your squad trying to figure out what corner he’s hiding in. Too late, his team respawned.