Very seldom does a twin stick shooter come my way that impresses me in nearly every aspect. Renegade Ops is one of the few, and Avalance Studios has proven their expertise of the genre by delivering a fantasticly unique experience like none other.  Not only is the game great, it’s a fuckin’ blast to play and will suck you in within the first five minutes.

Let me start off by saying that Renegade Ops is a beautiful game. Even though the camera is pulled back (due to it being a top down twin-stick-shooter) everything is beautifully crafted with full attention towards detail. Astonishing dust particles fly up from beneath your ride as race through dirt jungle roads; life-like water shimmers in the sunlight, clouds fly overhead, telephone poles burst with electricity upon being taken down, and the fire looks damn near hot.  Renegade Ops is nothing short of a fantastic title to look at.

Renegade Ops is simply beautiful for an Arcade title

The story is told in a comic book fashion about a madman by the name of Inferno, who just so happens enjoys killing everything and blowing shit up. Your commanding officer in charge, General Bryant, isn’t taking shit from no one and he’s gonna stop this SoB.  Something, something… time to blow shit up! You have the option of playing as four different Ops, each with their own unique vehicle type and special ability. Throughout the games 6-7 hour campaign you will gain experience through kills and secondary objects such as rescuing civilians and bringing them to a church.

The points you gain from leveling up are used to unlock new upgrades for your character. As you progress through the leveling system, you’ll have the option to equip multiple upgrades at once with the maximum of four. These vary from; regenerating health, more ammo, extra lives, increased blast radius and much more. Only being able to equip a certain number of upgrades really adds strategic gameplay elements that makes Renegade Ops even more of a blast to play.

Blowing shit up at all times is par for the course in Renegade Ops

The gameplay in Renegade Ops is simply superb. Navigating through the open world of each level has never been easier due to the fantastic controls the game offers. Aside from your standard machine gun turret, you’ll also have the option of picking up secondary weapons along the way; a flamethrower will quickly dispose of infantry units, rocket launchers can take down tanks within a sort few seconds, and the rail gun can easily blast its way through stationary turrets. You can only have one equipped at a time, so choose wisely based upon the given circumstances.

The missions throughout the game are fun, but the game does lack a sense of variety. Expect to collect those same damn key cards over and over again to advance further within the map. When Renegade Ops does offer variety in its missions, it’s brilliant. Running from a nuclear explosion and fighting off a battleship with a helicopter provide intense excitement. While these task are a bast to play, they’re usually over quicker than you’d expect leaving a sour taste in your mouth wanting more.

Helicopters are some of the most fun moments you'll experience

However, where Renegade Ops really shines in its co-op offering. Two players can play via split screen, or up to four players can play via Xbox LIVE. Matchmaking works well, and once all players ready up, the game starts in no time at all. Renegade Ops already has a ton of shit happening on screen at once, add in more players and things get even more chaotic. No matter how any explosions are going on, or bullets being fired, the frame rate never suffers offering a seamless, fluid experience.

The best part about co-op is the game doesn’t restrict the players in any way. One person can go after the main objective, while the others complete the secondary objective. It doesn’t matter where the players are on the map, everyone is free to explore as they wish with no penalty. While the co-op is fantastic, it does suffer from one major fault.  The difficulty isn’t increased based upon the number of players.  Add in more players, and Renegade Ops will be one of the most easiest games you’ll ever play. Thankfully, it’s still fun as hell to play… regardless of difficulty.

Use secondary missiles to blow up heavy tanks

Unfortunately, Renegade Ops doesn’t offer any type of competitive multiplayer.  It’s definitely not a deal breaker, but for such a polished and fun game, something really great could have come of a possible 2v2 team deathmatch mode. While Renegade Ops hardly suffers from any faults, I do have one major gripe that utterly pisses me off.  The game offers no sort of checkpoint system what so ever.  As I mentioned earlier, the game is fairly easy, but playing solo on hardcore can provide quite a challenge.

Instead of offering a checkpoint system, the game simply boots you to the main menu. There’s no option to restart the level, choose a different mission, etc. You loose, and all the way back to the press start screen you go. Due to the somewhat long load times, this can be very frustrating during later missions on higher difficulty settings. Fortunately, even if you do manage to lose, all of your progress will be saved towards your character. So you won’t be loosing any XP, but it’s still a pain in the ass.

Even with all this going on, the frame rate never suffers

Overall, Renegade Ops isn’t your standard twin-stick-shooter.  It’s anything but.  It’s a completely badass and intense game that will keep you playing from beginning to end without hesitation.  Quite frankly, I found it very hard to put the controller down because the game is just that fucking fun.  Despite the repetitive gameplay, the game never really gets dull for one second.  You’ll always be finding yourself eager to move on to your next objective just to see what the game has in store for you next.

Renegade Ops is a great addition to any arcade lovers library and shouldn’t be missed.  The game packs a hefty 2GB download, but the amount of fun you’ll have with this title is unmatched.

Here’s the rundown:

+ Fun game is fun

– Repetitive gameplay is repetitive

+ Fantastic co-op is fantastic

– Long load times are long

+ Outstanding visuals for an arcade title

– Lack of checkpoint or save system is frustrating

Renegade Ops was developed by Avalanche Studios and published by SEGA. It was released for Xbox LIVE Arcade and the Playstation Network on September 14th, 2011 for $14.99 (1600MSP). The copy used for review was provided to us by some PR dude who is probably wearing a plaid shirt right now.  Campaign was played until completion, taking around 6-7 hours to finish. Online co-op was played through half the campaign with Dave Oshry.  He yelled, “Get Some!!” a lot…