Writing for Co-Optimus has provided some unique co-op gaming opportunities for me. I now routinely play games that I would have waited for sales on or simply never picked up at all. A good example is Renegade Ops, an Xbox Live Arcade game that hadn’t been on my radar until it was chosen for our October Xbox Live Co-Op Night.
Every few months, the staff of Co-Optimus makes ourselves available to the gaming public for a night of cooperative gaming. I thought this meant that we would be just playing with readers, but as it turns out, Microsoft puts all of our GamerTags on the Xbox dashboard for the world to see. Naturally this results in lots of random, strange messages, chat invites, and flames from crazy people. I always thought those Xbox Live horror stories were just myths until the days leading up to Co-Op Night.
Once the night rolled around, we discovered that precious few of the people interested in the event had actually purchased the game or even heard of it. How that would be possible when the game is clearly stated in the advertisement, even science cannot tell us – though my last paragraph may hold clues. I did chat with a few such people and they seemed nice enough, but I needed to get my game on.
Having given up on playing with anyone who messaged me directly (since they did not own Renegade Ops), I hopped into a public game with fellow staff member Locke. Nick and a random matchmaking player joined us minutes later. They proceeded to select the last level of the game, which we all tore through in 4-player style. Did I mention I hadn’t had a chance to play Renegade Ops before that game? That was my bad. Our first game didn’t spoil the story for me too much since it’s insufferable and horribly-voiced, though the occasional clever joke somehow works its way in too.
After that level, Nick had to go and Locke mysteriously left the game without explanation. Seriously, I want answers, Final Fantasy VI guy! That left me alone with a guy called Xero Tolerance, two other matchmaking guys soon joining our game. They had heard of the Game with Fame event but were really just online because they liked Renegade Ops. My partners decided that we should play through the game on the highest difficulty as that’s the only Achievement we could hope to earn in co-op (damn it, Sega).
Naturally I got torn to shreds in the first level, but as I leveled up my character a bit I started living longer and longer (with occasional deaths due to not paying attention as we chatted). Actually, chatting with Xero Tolerance was the highlight of my evening. The guy, slightly older than my advanced age of 32, had all kinds of knowledge of classic Sega gaming, which we discussed at length. He even taught me a few things about the far-away land of Canadia from whence he hails.
Like many Xbox Live gamers, I tend to party up when I play online, so I hardly ever get the chance to meet and connect with new gamers (and my friends list is always full anyway). I’m thankful for the opportunity to play Renegade Ops with those guys and make a new friend. As for the game, I ended up with zero Achievements because we stopped at level 8 out of 9 after several hours of playing. I think Renegade Ops is a good twin-stick shooter that is marred by poorly-conceived Achievements, significant crashes and bugs, and a silly 1200 Point price. It’s enjoyable enough that I have since gone back for a few single-player Achievements though.