There are some seriously good dual-stick games available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, such as Geometry Wars, Robotron 2084 and Smash TV and now we have Renegade Ops trying to fill the same shoes. With excellent graphics, explosive sound effects and some memorable characters it seems like it could be on the right track. So let’s delve in further and see if it has what it takes to join the other great dual-stick games out there.

With the terrorist Inferno running riot around the world, setting off nuclear bombs and striking fear into its inhabitants, the world leaders have come together to try and figure out what must be done to stop him. After long discussions, they come to the agreement that they can do nothing against this madman. Angry at their decision General Bryant decides he will be the one to stop Inferno and leaves the world leaders to wonder what will happen next. After gathering a team of highly skilled fighters, General Bryant sets off for Inferno’s last known location and thus starts the war for freedom on Earth.

The team General Bryant assembles is made up of Armand, who specialises in shields, Diz, who comes equipped with an EMP, Roxy, who is capable of bringing in an air strike to her position with the click of a finger and Gunnar, a fan of huge guns. Having a selection of four different characters allows players to choose how they want to play, be it offensive, defensive or tactical. These choices also cross over to the upgrading of each character. Before starting each of the nine missions in the game you will be able to allocate the skill points you have earned from levelling up into one of three different skills trees. The defensive tree allows you to upgrade your shields and health, the tactical tree improves your special ability, such as Diz’s EMP, and the offensive tree increases the secondary fire of your character’s vehicle.

In each mission you are given a number of primary and secondary objectives. Obviously you must complete the primary ones to finish the mission but completing the secondary ones will usually reward you with an achievement and, of course, more points – which will put you further on the leaderboards. Controlling your vehicle can be a little tricky at first but after the first couple of missions you should find it easy to separate the controlling of the vehicle, with the left stick, and the firing of the gun, with the right stick. Aside from these basic controls, you have the ability to boost your vehicle and fire a secondary weapon. While you have your primary weapon with you at all times, secondary weapons can be picked up from fallen enemies. You will come across Rocket Launchers, Flamethrowers and Rail guns and each are useful against different kind of enemies. The primary weapon can be upgraded from a single round machine gun to several streams allowing you to quickly take out most enemy units. There are times when you will not be driving your land vehicle but will be in a helicopter and it’s a very fun experience but is also a shame that it doesn’t appear more often in the game.

Whilst you are playing each mission you will want to try and rack up as big a score as possible and the best way to do this is with damage streaks. This is basically killing as many enemies as possible before the damage streak bar empties. Each time you kill an enemy the bar will fill up again but maintaining a steady streak is quite difficult but very rewarding. This is also tracked with the leaderboards; so for those who like their bragging rights this is another way to gain them. The difficulties are also another way of gaining a higher score, with hardcore rewarding players with more points than the normal and casual difficulties. The casual difficulty is actually a very lenient mode and has infinite lives but at the cost of not being able to level your characters and not having the ability to gain a damage streak. It’s nice if you just want to mess around on the game or learn the controls but it’s a shame they removed some of the core features for those who like an easier ride. The really big shame with Renegade Ops is a few known glitches that causes the game to freeze at the end of a level. If you are lucky it will save just in time and allow you to continue but this still doesn’t save your score for the level, so it’s rather frustrating. Let’s hope a patch comes in to take care of this!

The graphics and sound effect are stunning and there’s no better way to spend an evening then being surrounded by hundreds of explosions and the screams of little pixel men getting squished under your vehicle. For what it lacks in story it more than makes up for it in visuals, and had it not been for the freezing problems the game would have been completed in one sitting. It does have the option for two player split screen co-op and four player LIVE co-op, which is a lot of fun and makes the game a lot easier on the hardcore difficulty. Sadly, the game suffers from more freezing than usual here so it’s safer to stick with the single player.

If you like your dual stick games and don’t mind shelling out 1200 Microsoft Points, this game is a must buy. Hopefully we will see the freezing issues sorted soon because if it wasn’t for this, Renegade Ops would most certainly sit up there with the best of them.

Tim Leigh

Tim likes games. Tim likes games A LOT. It’s highly likely he’s played on most of the platforms that support games over his long years playing video games and is a sucker for new technology. He can often be found on his Xbox 360 playing the latest RPG or playing a wide range of multiplayer games with his buddies. While doing this however, he’ll often have a casual game of Peggle running on his PC and making sure his planes are doing the rounds in Pocket Planes on the iPad. When he’s actually not found playing games he’ll either be at the cinema watching the latest film releases or at the gym attempting to get fit - attempting being the important word there

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