Insurgency: Sandstorm relies on the same formula of the CS franchise of a squad or two on either side then would need to perform various objectives based on the game mode. But what makes it unique is the realistic style of gameplay. And heavy reliance on teamwork. As a solely multiplayer based game, no plot and story is given well as of the moment this review is being written. But the opposing side is the Security forces and Insurgents.
Remember when we we’re playing Counter-Strike when it was released? Or playing CS:GO? We loved that squad based tactical shooting that is still enjoyed today. And even with the release of CS:GO, many still plays the original CS Game which is a testament to how strong the fanbase is. And I can safely assume that many of the readers have played them at one point or at least know and or familiar on what CS:GO is. Now what does it have to do with the Insurgency: Sandstorm? As I mentioned earlier, it uses the same formula.
So how does the game work? Honestly, the game mechanics alone would take a lot on explaining and showing how this makes the game a league of its own. Unlike the CS series (which I hope you’d forgive me for comparing since both games relies on the same setting), it has a wider range of customization. And this isn’t just on the looks of your character. This also boils down to your load out which range from the primary weapon, sidearm, melee, and your explosive of choice. But you can’t just equip your favorite gun along with whatever attachment you want. The allowance you have depends on your supply token that lets you pick your loadout. And the loadout is also determinant by your class which we will get to after this. Lastly, you also don’t get to equip whatever weapon you want on the class you are playing. You still need to progress through the game.
There is the class system which means, you have a specific task and role to play on the field. This would range from being the rifle man that is a basic grunt of the squad, the heavy gunner that can carry an LMG(Light Machine Gun, I’m using the light with heavy emphasis here since those guns weigh at least twice) around and then there is the commander and radio man, which would need to be near each other for your squad to be able to call in support. All in all, these roles allows the diversified gameplay and a more tactical and strategic way of thinking. Which means you don’t run and gun your way throughout the map.
Speaking of…The game also implements a realistic take on damage, stamina, and recoil. This means that gone are the bullet sponge characters. And comparing the health you have here makes other online PvP shooter look like a living tank. What this means is that you could be dead with a well placed round of bullets to your body. Oh remember when the so called helmet lets you survive a headshot? Yeah we don’t do that here. A headshot is a headshot. And then there is the recoil. Now, I am going on a limb here that readers are familiar with the Call of Duty Franchise and if not, you probably came across a game that lets you equip an LMG . In those games, you can go full Rambo with it and spray it to your heart’s content and seemingly have an accuracy of any other weapon. But in Insurgency: Sandstorm, we don’t do that here. I tested the M240B on the firing range and it kicks hard. And yes, the rate of fire is still there but good luck managing to put them on your enemies when your bullet seems to go everywhere except your targets. So you might be asking, but if that is the case, why should I pick that hunk of steel? What benefits can I get?
Well…Remember when I said this game relies on the realism spectrum? The LMG comes into play here. In a military doctrine, LMG is used for both offensive and defensive. In both cases, they can pin down an enemy with suppressive fire that lets your squad take them down. “So what?” I can hear you say. Well that suppressive puts a debuff on your character that induces a somewhat panic state where you would move a bit slower, your visions darken out and you have a hard time getting a grasp of the situation. Also, unlike other FPS games, your ammo is limited by your carrying capacity and this comes in terms of magazines. So conserving your ammo is part of the gameplay. Along with this, the game imposes weight limit that restricts your movement based on the gear you have and the weight of your armor. And as of this writing, you also have to manually reload your gun when you are out. So yes, you will definitely need a situational awareness on top of your tactics if you want to survive.
If I were to list the game mechanics I have seen so far, it would take us twice as long to talk about it, so moving on from there. Let’s talk about the art and graphics of the game instead. In it, the world is beautifully done. And being set in a non-descript Middle East location, the color pallet is better than most that resort to just a dab of beige filter. They made the world at least more pleasant to the eyes than other games that seems to just pick a shade of beige and go on with it.
Now with all that, you might think that this is a perfect game but, as always, we reserve the worse of it for the last. For me, The realism and micromanagement oriented nature of the game imposes and poses a huge barrier to newcomers. This can be remedied by the option to take on AI enemies on some modes. The A.I. themselves is nothing to write about which seems to be an after thought at times.
The controls may seem easy to understand on paper, but in actuality, when you are in combat, you’d often times mistakenly choose a grenade rather than your primary weapon. But hey if you manage to cock your grenade if you are close enough to the enemy you could take them with you. The map and game modes as of this writing is too few. With 4 modes and 8 maps to choose, some might want more from it.
Lastly, I personally find that it is quite unusual that the graphics on startup of a match takes time and somewhat glitches at times. Like for one instance, the laser attachment I have is on, and the pointer is visible on the wall but you can’t see them on the weapon itself. Then there is the sounds. Sometimes like the graphics, it takes time to load. Although I am not sure if this is due to the laggy nature of it or if this is also part of the realistic aspect of the game. Because I am not sure if this is a sound issue or a deafening effect of your character in combat.
Overall, Insurgency: Sandstorm is brutally hard for newcomers like me and you’re definitely going to spend your initial gameplay on the firing range rather than in actual combat. But the essence of winning is there and is better. And with all those aforementioned issues I faced, this didn’t realty stop me from enjoying the game. With that being said, I would personally recommend this game to anyone who wants a different feel on the FPS Genre. This will not be for everyone specially for casual players. But for those who is into a more team-based and tactics-oriented gameplay, Insurgency: Sandstorm is a must for their library. Lastly, as of this writing, the micro transaction is limited to cosmetics. So it is a huge plus in my book.
Insurgency: Sandstorm – Review
It’s a fun game that has its few kinks that can easily be ignored.
Realistic inventory management and combat
Difficulty barrier to newcomers
Graphics at times takes a few seconds to load
Micromanaging at your inventory can take a lot of time