With all the madness surrounding games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, you could be forgiven if you didn’t know or forgotten about the tactical shooter Insurgency: Sandstorm. Where teamwork is key to survive and kills come quick and deadly, and you must be ready!
With the modern shooters like Battlefield, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty taking the main lead in fps these days, some of them don’t quite give you that feeling of realism to the point where each bullet you fire could be your last. Insurgency: Sandstorm is like those old school shooters with a different level of realism where a single bullet can end you. This is more apparent as there are no medics to heal or revive you and once you feel that hot lead, you’re dead!
The first thing you will notice straight off the bat when playing is how limited your HUD is and that there are no indicators or crosshairs when you are hip firing or when throwing a grenade. Everything needs to be done with your keen eye. There are no kill confirmations on screen or notices and no kill cams, so at times it’s hard to know when you have taken down an enemy in battle, unless you are close enough to see them drop. For some of you that love shooters like COD or Battlefield, you may find this annoying, which I did at first. However, if you take it at what this game is a realistic combat shooter, then you will get a better flow to the game than most.
Insurgency has two game modes for you to try out, Co-Op and Versus. In Co-Op mode you are tasked with certain missions, and you are expected to work as a team with a squad of 8 players versus AI players. These missions vary and it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the game’s mechanics. While versus sees you in teams of 10 v 10 as you battle across each map to win your objectives. Each of these missions are not that varied in their format and all heavily focus on attacking or defending control points that are placed strategically on each of the maps on offer.
The key to winning each game is patience and teamwork as mistakes are punished by how long each spawn can be, plus you are often spawned back at a distance that can keep you off the hot points. It’s a little annoying at times as you are often running back to your team to help out, which can often mean your death as you try to team up, or a team member dies before you can come in to support them.
There are 8 classes for you to choose from, like Rifleman, Commander and Advisor, each with their own weapons that are unique to them. However, there are those like Observer or Commander that have more heavy responsibilities like calling in support from the air or tactical. What is good about this is though is that the developers have limited the number of classes that each team can pick. This makes the games less frustrating, and you are not being bombarded all the time or being pinned downed by snipers too.
A big plus too in the classes is that all weapons are opened to everyone, but there is a catch. You are limited on your loadouts by weight. This means you have some difficult choices to make, like more armour for survivability or more control and power with your weapons, or perhaps carry more smoke or frag grenades. The combinations that are on offer for you lets you really experiment with the attachments and weapons you have.
When it comes to the visuals in Insurgency: Sandstorm, there is a certain lack of polish when you are playing. While the gameplay is solid most of the time, it’s the visuals that are lacking. I know that in a future update for the PS5 and Series X|S there will be an update to improve the visuals and framerates, but at this moment in time, they are a little lacklustre. What is also a little disappointing on consoles is that on PS4 and Xbox One, the frames are limited to only 30fps while PS5 and Xbox Series consoles are limited to 60fps. Like I said, an update that is coming in early 2022 will rectify this which is fantastic. However, I feel that this should have been here from the get-go, especially for a first-person shooter.
The maps themselves are also a little bland in terms of how they are presented. Everything in each of the maps at first don’t seem to have no variation to them at all, except for the Hillside and Power Plant which are probably the only two not covered by sand and dust. Get past the look of the maps and you will see the map layouts are designed well with their meandering streets, destroyed builds and towns, each with their own vantage points that are scattered through the map. I feel that if they added more to the environment with more variety in terms of the buildings, the landscapes etc.. it would flesh out the maps a bit more. IF New World would have held off launch and had the PS5 and Xbox Series console versions ready, it may have been a more pleasing experience, visually.
Over the course of my playthrough, while enjoyable, I did notice quite a few issues. One of the most frequent glitches to happen would be you losing sound from your weapon. This can occur at anytime and can be a bit annoying as there is no way of telling when it will happen again. Then there will be times when you will have problems climbing through a window. Then there is the issue of the latency and netcode, where it could do with a bit of tweaking. As there will be times where you could swear that you are in cover only to get taken out from an impossible angle. While these issues are nothing game breaking, it can still ruin the immersion of your overall experience. Then there is the issue of team killing and this can be a right pain in the backside. Due to it being difficult at times to point out your teammates, especially without communicating to each other, you are often mowed down by teammates. What’s worse however, is members of your team killing you on purpose, just for the hell of it! Without any repercussions to them.
The Progression system in Insurgency: Sandstorm is a bit inadequate in terms of what it offers you. Every time you level or rank up, you are rewarded with nothing more than cosmetics for the two opposing teams for you to pick. There are also no medals on awards like ribbons etc.. that is offered and the only reward that is offered to you is a feeling of self-pride when you think you done a good job for your team, even if you didn’t do much. Again, it’s lacklustre and there could have been more done to rewards good team play and more appealing rewards.
Insurgency: Sandstorm is a fun game to play, but when it comes to its longevity appeal, it’s a bit thin on the ground. I was really looking forward to playing New Worlds shooter, especially with games like Battlefield 2042 being delayed. However, I see this game as more of a stop gap to Battlefield and will probably not play it again, even with a new update coming for PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. It is a shame though, as I was really looking forward to playing this title from what I saw in the previews, sadly I think my expectations were set a little too high.
GoG Rating: 7/10