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Like so many before it, Insurgency began as a source mod before becoming its own game. Itís currently scheduled for release next year, but early access is available to those whoíve pre-ordered the game. Iím a somewhat casual FPS fan, so I hadnít heard about the game until New World Interactive kindly sent us a preview code. I initially had trouble playing due to crashing issues and a general lack of games, but NWI has since fixed the former and a wealth of new players has remedied the latter.

Counter That Strike with Insurgency


When I first fired up Insurgency, I was immediately reminded of Counter-Strike, especially since the game was molded on the very same engine. Being reminiscent of one of the most popular tactical shooters of all time certainly gets you off to a running start, but at the same time itís a pretty high bar to reach for an indie studio developing its first game. Not to mention youíre throwing your hat into a crowded ring, so standing out is going to be something of a challenge. It quickly becomes clear that NWI wasnít aiming for innovation as much as theyíre trying to recreate an experience that theyíve loved in the past, not unlike Interceptor Entertainment did with Rise of the Triad earlier this year.

This is a personal preference, but when it comes to the varying shades of realism that can be found in the myriad of shooters available, Insurgency falls right into my sweet spot. It certainly doesnít boast the authenticity of ARMA, which I find a little too slow and unforgiving, but itís also a far cry from the over-the-top nature of Call of Duty. It exists somewhere in between, closer to realistic than not, but still developed to include the average shooter fan. A particularly engaging aspect of Insurgency involves the sound; as I closed in on a firefight, I would hear it long before I saw, the cracks of gunfire becoming increasingly cacophonous. Iíve never been in actual combat, but it was certainly intense and felt like I was walking into an actual battle.

Let's Suit Up


Another way that Insurgency is like Counter-Strike is the inventory mechanic. Once the round begins, you can go to the inventory screen and modify your arsenal, with ďsupply pointsĒ dictating how much you can be outfitted with. You can equip yourself with a primary weapon, secondary weapon, throwables, and armor, and youíre able to sacrifice one of those slots and concentrate those supply points into another. The first thing I did was get rid of my pistol, which I never used anyway, and used those points to equip my rifle with a grip and a better sight. Speaking of sights, the game doesnít give you crosshairs, forcing you to use the physical sights on your gun. This should cut down on twitch shooting, at least successful twitch shooting, which should please a lot of players.

There are six game modes, eight maps, and support for up to 32 players, and everything is pretty standard in that department. There arenít a lot of guns, but this is a beta, after all. The graphics are pretty much what youíd expect from a Source game: far from cutting edge, but pretty enough for the gameís target demographic.

The Question of Innovation


Now, Iíve never been a strong proponent of innovation. Iím certainly not opposed to it, because Iím not some sort of luddite, but I do think that itís emphasized a little too much. There are countless examples of fantastic games that make no attempt to break the mold. You donít have the reinvent the wheel to make something worthwhile, especially when youíre purposely emulating an existing experience.

With all of that being said, if youíre not going to offer something new, you at least have to offer something different or present it in a way that feels different. Itís in this area that Insurgency stumbles. There are no shortage of drab, brown tactical shooters out there, and while Insurgency offers a solid experience, it doesnít do a lot to set itself apart. Hopefully they can find a way to solve that before the actual launch next year.