Over the course of time, there have been many first person shooters on PC that made a proclaimed attempt at offering realistic combat, without the thrills and frills of popular titles, the type of games that put the FPS on the map as a multiplayer genre, like Unreal Tournament or Quake. Whether big or small, most of those have failed or faded into obscurity, but one of them is still standing strong over a decade after its inception.
Insurgency started its life as Operation: Counter-Insurgency (OPCOIN) in 2002 after the original creator, Andrew Spearin decided to create a realistic modern infantry squad shooter based on his experiences in the Canadian Army. After that, in 2005 Jeremy Blum – the original man behind the Red Orchestra mod for Unreal Tournament 2003, joined the project with many of the developers of Red Orchestra. Two years later, COIN eventually became a total conversion modification for Half-Life 2 using the Source engine and adopted the name Insurgency. Released in 2007 as a mod, it featured “tactical multiplayer first person shooter” action that revolved more around teamplay than it did around individual skill. While many other shooters, team shooters included, are decided on the skill of just one player, sometimes that player “clutching it” if they are the last alive, Insurgency is heavily dependent on working as a team and keeping people alive. After the popularity of the mod was clear with 1 million downloads achieved and the mod winning “Best source mod of 2007” from SteamFriends, a dedicated sequel entered production and resulted in the present game.
Insurgency is primarily a team-based, multiplayer online shooter focused on tactical, objective-based gameplay. The player can join one of two teams, the American security forces, or their adversaries, the Insurgents. Teams are structured around two squads, for a total of 16 maximum players per team. Within this team structure are limited player classes, such as the Rifleman, Support Gunner, Engineer, or Marksma, all of whom have their own sets of equipment they can “purchase” using munitions. Munitions are rewarded for completing objectives, and not for kills. If a player dies during the course of completing an objective, they will get those munitions after spawning again. There are no respawns after death in the game, on normal servers, unless an objective is captured.
In cooperative mode, after an objective is destroyed or captured, there is a possibility to respawn teammates. However, if completing the objective is immediately followed by a counter attack by the AI team, there are no respawns unless the counter is defeated, the objective remains in friendly control, and the timer counts down to 0. As the maps progress, depending on how quickly the team moves, the timer to defend against a counter attack eventually increases from the default 60 seconds up to 2 minutes or more.
The game has a pseudo-realistic portrayal of the weaponry used. There is no on-screen crosshair and the players must use the iron sights of the game’s weapon model to accurately aim the weapon. Shooting “from the hip” is still possible; however, the free-aim system makes this difficult. However, each weapon has a range of attachments that can be picked as long as the player has enough munitions and free weight capacity to carry them. While not as ludicrous as Call of Duty or Battlefield’s customization options, this lends to a large degree of player freedom even when stuck playing the same class because the team is full or no one will switch them. Weapons are also more deadly than in most first-person shooter titles, with most rifles capable of taking out players with one or two shots to the torso. According to their class, players can also use fragmentation grenades, smoke grenades, and RPGs.
The retail product features a mix of urban and outdoor, long range envrionments, with many of the maps being focused on urban combat. Fortunately, being a game made with Orange Box version of source and having inherent workshop support, there’s a robust modding community that has made tons of maps ranging from imports of Call of Duty maps, Day of Defeat maps, Day of Infamy, Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike, and plenty of completely original maps as well. There are all sorts of servers with modified loadouts and modified munitions or even gameplay. Some run heavy co op mods that feature additional enemy types like Dozers from CoD MW and suicide bombers that will ruin your entire teams day, or flares that will respawn your team.
Operator, a mod for Insurgency which has reworked hitboxes and even more robust customization, will let you even customize your tactical beard.
Unfortunately, as is always the case when playing online multiplayer games, one must beware that parts of community are just immature, very toxic people. Whether it’s admins who abuse people in their servers, arbitrarily mute and kick you, enforce moronic teamkilling rules, or people who prey on servers with no admin mods to remove or ban troublemakers. These people are as toxic as they come but fortunately, they are only found in co op servers from my experience.
Even so, Insurgency is one of the few good “realistic” shooters that successfully blends arcadey gameplay with the atmosphere and realism of more serious simulation games like Arma or Operation Flashpoint. It’s no surprise, being that it’s a collaboration of the original opcoin mod, and the original Red Orchestra mod (before it had massive maps and vehicles) – Red Orchestra continues to this day to be one of the best realism-based first person shooters on the market, despite the audience having moved to Rising Storm 2 or other titles. If you shoot someone once in this game with a rifle, they are dead almost every time. Even the bolt action Mosin Nagant and Springfield M40 are viable weapons for those who are good enough. Gunplay in this game is also quite meaty. When you fire any weapon, you feel like it’s going to be effective. When you are getting shot at and the enemy is missing, it’s a harrowing experience as bullets whiz by your head and tear up the world around you.
Time Played: 611 hours
Verdict: Gild it