Sometimes, we don’t play a game, or even hear about it, until it falls into our lap. This could be through a gift, a bundle (such as Humble Bundle), or a massive event (such as Steam Sales). Recently, Sega held their fifth annual Make War Not Love event. Sega gauged the number of hours people spent playing select modern Sega games, and if the total number of hours played reached the goal for each day, everyone who was signed up got a free game and a Steam coupon toward another game.
The rewards weren’t half-bad, either. Day 3’s giveaway was the excellent Alpha Protocol, and Day 4’s coupon was 50% off Bayonetta (which I very much snagged). Not all of them were such recognizable titles, though, and you may have found yourself saddled with some seemingly random games. Today, we’re going to talk about Renegade Ops, one of the giveaways. You may never have heard of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time, especially since it’s been added to your Steam account and isn’t going anywhere.
Renegade Ops is something of a hybrid between traditional bullet-hell games and old-school GTA – top-down action while driving an armored vehicle that fires machine guns. A familiar recipe, and one that fans of retro gaming will very much enjoy. Much like the arcade games of a bygone age, combat is a hectic mess meant to be dealt with surgical precision; too bad I brought a rocket launcher.
While console owners can play Renegade Ops on PS3 or Xbox 360 with no issues (yes, it’s an older game), PC players may find a few issues. For starters, on Windows 10, the game regularly crashed after completing missions or alt-tabbing, which was a pain. Secondly, it’s more or less impossible to play with keyboard and mouse. Y’know what? Scratch that – it is completely impossible to play with keyboard and mouse. This means that if you want to play Renegade Ops with more finesse than an elephant riding a unicycle, you will need a gamepad. As usual, I recommend the Logitech F310, which has served me well for about four years and has the bonus of being easily affordable.
In short, Renegade Ops is a Jungle Strike-esque arcade game, complete with a life counter, machine gun/secondary weapon setup, special abilities, and zero character development. There are four playable characters, each with their own vehicle and special ability: Armand can be invincible for short periods of time; Roxy can call an air-strike to destroy everything around her; Diz has an electric attack that disables/stuns opponents; and Gunnar can go immobile in exchange for having a really big gun.
If you’ve got the Steam version, a fifth character is also available: Gordon Freeman, of Half-Life fame. His special power is summoning antlions, and don’t get me wrong – that’s very cool. I want to say that I’m not sure how I feel about Gordon being in Renegade Ops, but that would be a lie. I know exactly how I feel about it, and Gordon just doesn’t fit. Great character, wrong franchise.
This is the point where I briefly mention the plot and follow up by saying how it doesn’t really matter. The truth, though, is that the plot matters a great deal. A Dr. Evil-esque villain called Inferno is leading an attack on locations throughout the world. Of course, the world leaders are dithering about what to do, so General Bryant basically pulls a Hannibal Smith and forms his own version of the A-Team, which doesn’t answer to any government (hence “Renegade Ops”), with the sole mission of stopping Inferno.
Yes, it’s silly, brash, juvenile, and a bunch of other adjectives that would generally be considered derogatory in this context. But the plot has to be taken in context with the rest of the game. You’re a one-man army (or 2-4 man army in co-op), scything through dozens of enemy infantry and vehicles every minute, tearing through buildings, and saving the world. Add in the comic-book style cut scenes, passable voice-acting, and chaotic gameplay… and it all fits. Don’t think about it or ask questions – it just works, and dwelling on the “why” ruins it.
Adult me can appreciate Renegade Ops for what it is, enjoy it, and set it down after an hour. But nine-year-old me would have reached max level on every character, fully explored every map, and been ignorant of the passage of time until Mom hid the controller.
We played Contra, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda for the sole reason that they were fun (and, in the case of Contra, occasionally rage-quit inducing). The evolution of games has taught us to be more critical of the games we deign to grace with our time and money, but in the case of Renegade Ops, you should turn that inner critic off. Enjoy the over-the-top plot, explosions, and voice acting. Feel giddy when you snag power-ups or use a perfectly timed special-ability to cheat death. It’s a game – have fun.
Renegade Ops is a great time-killer. You can pick it up for a few minutes or a few hours, but you’ll never feel bad about putting it down and forgetting about it for a while. If you got it for free or through a bundle, it’s worth trying for at least a mission or two. If you have a spare ten bucks and a penchant for top-down action games, go hog wild. Keep your expectations low, and the fun factor will be high!
Have you played Renegade Ops? Loved it, hated it, or something in-between? Give us your thoughts in the comments!