When it comes to entertainment, sometimes you want to see a serious piece that is intellectually stimulating, while other times you just want to turn off your brain and see something explode. “Renegade Ops,” a new digital release from Sega and Avalanche Studios, definitely falls into the latter category, as it’s essentially the video game equivalent of a cheesy action movie from the ’80s. Its ridiculous paper-thin story is only a means to an end, and that end is nonstop chaotic action.

Renegade Ops

Sega
Xbox, PlayStation, PC download


“Renegade Ops” is easy to pick up and play. You control a jeep from a top-down perspective, meaning you’re looking at it from a bird’s eye view at all times. The left control stick moves the jeep, and the right control stick shoots the machine gun turret of your jeep in any direction.

The story in “Renegade Ops” is perhaps even simpler than its control scheme. There is a major terrorist named Inferno causing chaos in South America, and as a member of an elite commando unit, it is your job to take him down. What is Inferno’s motivation, you may ask? Stop asking questions and start blowing shit up, the game responds. While initially it may seem like the whole of “Renegade Ops” takes place in a South American jungle, later stages have you globetrotting from Africa to Eastern Europe to track down Inferno. The premise is ludicrous in a comic book kind of way, but it’s serviceable in giving you context for destroying everything in your path.

That’s basically what the game is about. Over the course of nine stages, you’ll dump your machine guns into all sorts of enemy vehicles, from small, nimble jeeps to massive, powerful tanks. This has the potential to get repetitive, but “Renegade Ops” does a good job of mixing up the action and keeping things fun. Occasional power-ups will let you fire rocket launchers or rail guns along with your machine guns. Sometimes the game will let you pilot a helicopter, while other times it will pit you against mortars or vehicles with flamethrowers. Everything is destructible, which factors into the gameplay nicely. For example, sometimes there will be enemy watchtowers that harass you with their turrets. Running into their wooden structures with your jeep destroys their structural support and takes them out quickly. Causing wonton destruction so easily is a lot of fun, especially since the explosions look really nice.

While playing “Renegade Ops” may sound like a simplistic destructive romp, Avalanche Studios has admirably put in place a deeper system that lets you customize how you play. Before you start each mission, the game asks you to choose from four different characters, each with a special ability. One equips a shield for temporary invincibility, another has the ability to call airstrikes, and so forth. Each class has its merits, so it’s fun to experiment with each of them to see which one matches your style. Along with the class differentiations, there is also a leveling system in which experience is gained for completing objectives or killing enemies. With enough experience you gain levels, and with more levels you can spend points on upgrading your health, ammo or effectiveness of your special ability.

This system of player progression is a nice touch, but it also has its downsides. Whenever you level, all your points go into the class you were playing with. So even if you had all the upgrades for the airstrike class, none of those upgrades transfers over if you were to play with another class. It would be a lot more enjoyable if the leveling applied to all classes, and not just one. A related gripe with progression is the lack of checkpoints. Each mission lasts anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes and you start out with a set number of lives. If those lives run out, you have to start the mission over, which can be really frustrating especially on harder levels.

Despite these annoyances, “Renegade Ops” is still one hell of a good time. Careening recklessly over cliffs taking out everything as a one-man army is as fun as it sounds. It’s a little on the short side for $15, but the levels are designed to be enjoyable time and again. Don’t let the generic, forgettable name of “Renegade Ops” turn you away. Anyone interested in fast-paced action should give it a shot.

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