We got some hands on time with Renegade Ops at PAX this past week. The downloadable game from the Just Cause 2 team is set to release on the 360, PS3 and PC later this month with full four player co-op action. While the co-op play wasn't on display on the show floor, I got a pretty good idea of how the game is going to work and feel.
Players will choose from four characters, each with their own unique vehicle and take on missions through various areas. Our demo area was set in a jungle where we controlled a jeep to rescue civilians that were captured and drive them back to a church. The game is a twin stick shooter at heart, but it's easy to see the open world influence of Just Cause. It's not a linear progression through the levels, but instead, there's various ways to get to your objective and get back. The driving felt solid and your little vehicle moves through the world quite believably as it bounces on the road, crashes through objects, and skids as it tries to make turns at high speeds.
The destruction in the game was particularly impressive - buildings cracked, crashed and exploded as I drove straight through them to rescue those prisoners in need. The entire time I felt like I was "against the clock" - even though there was no particular timer on this section of the mission. Soon though, after mid-way through the rescue mission, I got an update that there were rocket trucks in bound. I had a certain amount of time to find and eliminate these all the while still having a main objective of rescuing the prisoners.
For the most part the vehicle combat was satisfying, shooting the little soldiers to rescue my friends never got old and the controls were tight. Perhaps the highlight of the gameplay session was being able to call in a special air strike attack on a target which exploded in an impressive display of fireworks and debris. This is definitely an intense and over the top twin stick shooter.
So while I didn't get to play the game in co-op at PAX, I did get a chance to ask the game's director, Axel Lindberg, about some co-op details.
Co-Optimus: The big thing everyone has been talking about for Renegade Ops is how it uses the Just Cause 2 engine but turns things into a retro styled top down game. What difficulties did you guys have to adapting this style game from an engine designed for a 3rd person action game?
Axel Lindberg: Actually, we had a very smooth transition going from 3rd person to top-down view. Some of the more complex challenges we faced early on was creating a completely new control-system for driving / aiming / shooting, and finding the right approach to how the environments needed to be made. From a level design point-of-view for example, in top-down the player can’t see very far, but they can see in all directions at the same time instead, which is something that needs to be taken into account in how each passage and combat-area is designed.
Co-Optimus: Was co-op part of Renegade Ops from the beginning?
Axel: Yes it was. With Renegade Ops, we wanted to create an experience best described as a “non-stop, balls-to-the-wall action-fest” that you can enjoy together with your friends. There’s a very strong, and kind of weird, sense of satisfaction in going into an area full of enemies and buildings with a friend or two, and just wrecking it all to the ground in a symphony of explosions and splintered wood.