With the sheer number of dual-stick shooters available on both XBLA and PSN services, it's easy to get lost in the torrent of stale and mediocre games all mucking for your attention – and digital dollar. Luckily, though, this year's gaggle have been surprisingly engaging and great for co-op play. Renegade Ops, from the minds of Sega and Avalanche Studios Just Cause), is a fast and furious arcade top-down vehicle-based shooter that's easy to pick up and play and share with friends, even if it ventures into the cheesy "oo-rah" ops category time and time again.
The Renegade Ops are a ragtag group of heroes, four to be precise, who can always be counted on to go to any length to ensure the world is safe. Each member of the team is saddled with their own personal vehicle and skillset, such as missile strikes and shields. All of these vehicles are ground-based, however as the story progresses you'll be treated to helicopters and other types of transportation with which to wreak havoc upon the evil terroristic Inferno and his henchmen.
Your basic objectives are usually quite simple: reach point B from point A and blow anything and everything up along the way before your enemy accomplishes the same thing. Basically you're tasked with making things go boom. As you complete mini objectives they count toward your progress on the main mission, and at certain points you'll be asked to rescue hostages and survivors by picking them up out of the chaos and depositing them at secure points on each map. Some survivors can actually help you with your cause and will fire on your enemy, so it's good to know they're not completely and totally useless…you know, like an escort mission?
Power-ups are bountiful and pack a punch, and playing through with a friend is an instant party. There's only one problem if you're playing for achievements: all of the achievements are focused on single-player. In a game practically tailor-made for cooperative play, there's little or no incentive for you to do so. I suppose that's the way things really should be, but co-op takes Renegade Ops from being just another top-down shoot-'em-up to a fun weekend play with a friend or two. Who else is going to laugh maniacally with you as enemies burn to a crisp? I can't see why co-op isn't lauded here, as it truly makes the game a delight. Not only does it add another dimension to your game through social interaction, but different types of vehicles complement each other perfectly.
Why rewarding teamwork was completely overlooked is beyond me, but don't let the lack of achievements or rewards for rounding up friends to play put you off.
Renegade Ops certainly borders on cheesy action B-movie, but it's well-made and more than playable, especially with a gaggle of pals. In a videogame world practically drowning in subpar dual-stick shooters and countless derivative clones, I'm happy to say that Sega and Avalanche Studios have crafted an experience that's better than most, even if it does focus a bit too much on single-player achievements. Its vehicle-based action is fast and intense, and there's plenty of replay value here with plentiful power-ups and engaging multiplayer. Don't expect much depth or an award-winning story to go along with all the explosions, but I can guarantee that you're gonna have fun blowing stuff up, especially with a friend (or two). So go blow some stuff up!
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