Finding yourself pinned down by enemy fire on the last control point during the final moments of a match is intense. As bodies drop all around you and the sound of the air support the enemy has called in circles your position, all you can do is stay strong and check your ammunition. As enemies run in through the doorway you need to drop them with speed and precision ensuring every shot counts. Should you survive this chaos long enough maybe backup will reach you but in this conflict every second and every action can be your last. In the end, my vision cuts to black as a well placed sniper shot brings my life to a end. What a thrilling match.
This, in a nutshell, is what you can expect from Insurgency: Sandstorm by New World Interactive. The sequel to the acclaimed and widely successful first-person shooter (FPS) title Insurgency alongside the mod of the same name. This new title looks to expand on the immersive gameplay players have come to know and love by giving it a new look and plenty of exciting new features. With such a reputation to live up to however, can this latest installment capture the heart of the original and stand out as its own title? You are damn right it can, but not without some issues.
What makes Insurgency: Sandstorm different to other FPS titles is that focus on intense and lethal multiplayer gameplay with the core online experience seeing two teams of sixteen battle it out across several locations and gamemodes. You can experience a very immersive boots-on-the-ground style of gameplay as you and your team push forward battling over every inch of the battlefield until one team stands as the winner. It is fast, challenging and will require a great deal of patience, but it is so rewarding. Expect to be moving from cover-to-cover, providing suppressing fire, calling out shots with your team and keeping your head low.
As all it takes to drop a player is a single bullet players need to understand just how powerful their guns can be. With long respawn times fairly common and large amounts of ground to cover, death is punishing and requires skill to be avoided. What makes it all the more interesting is that your gun is not locked to the center of the screen meaning that recoil control is a key skill to maintain a steady aim. One of the benefits of this system however is that you can fire your weapon during a number of different actions and in a variety of directions. For example, you could fire from the hip as you vault over a wall or even unload a shot into the face of an enemy as you punch them at the same time. The freedom that comes to how the guns behaviour lays the foundation for a truly compelling gameplay system.
Player progression is mostly found in the way of cosmetics which can be unlocked using an ingame currency that is awarded after completing matches. Everything that is gameplay related, such as weapon attachments, are unlocked from the get-go meaning every player is on an equal footing. Your weapons and equipment will vary depending on the class you pick and this helps to ensure a range of playstyles across your team. That said just because you didn’t get to pick the sniper class doesn’t mean you can’t use a sniper rifle so experimenting with each one is highly recommend to tailor each class to fit your playstyle.
In terms of presentation Insurgency: Sandstorm has both strong visual and audio elements. The sound design alone is reason enough to play the title as players are transported to a virtual battlefield that features some stunning audio work. Every sound can not only be heard, but also felt with a clear direction in each. This means that players will want to wear headphones so they are able to identify where shots are coming from and then call them out to their team. As for the visuals, the title has detailed models and textures which feature a range of colours that almost make the battlefields seem beautiful.
Though the visuals are overall impressive there were a large number of visual bugs that put a damper on the experience as a whole. This ranged from models and texture popping in at various distances, model clipping, serious framerate drops and even player models not displaying correctly. All of this was made worse by the latency issues that occured during my time with the title as well resulting in solid gameplay being let down. Though these will hopefully be fixed in future updates the title is currently in a bit of a hit-or-miss state. When Insurgency: Sandstorm is at its best it is a fantastic experience but when issues occur it quickly deflates back to being an uninspiring title.
These sourer moments are not helped by some of the design choices within the game and changes that have been made from the original release. For starters, though the new locations are impressive visually and have some interesting gameplay opportunities many of them feel to big and you can easily spend most of your time running only to be shot from nowhere and having to wait again. Sure, this is the gameplay loop of the title but in these moments it is extremely vexing. Elsewhere problems can be found with the user interface which is not all that friendly and seems like a step back rather than a step forward.
As it stands Insurgency: Sandstorm is a sequel that has just fallen short of what it hoped to be. When everything works as intended you’ll find a truly outstanding experience in one of the best FPS titles out there. Sadly, with the current issues the title misses the mark more often then it should and the result is just a slightly better than average experience. If you are looking for a unique and immersive FPS videogame then Insurgency: Sandstorm is what you are looking for, but be warned going in that, at the time of writing, it is a rocky journey. Should the developers iron out the bugs then definitely check it out because it can only get better from here on out.
Insurgency: Sandstorm (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Insurgency: Sandstorm needs a bit more polish to be the outstanding sequel it should be but if you overlook the issues you'll find a fairly enjoyable multiplayer title.