Hands On With Insurgency

The big question with any Insurgency – who’s it for? For ‘the people’, that nebulous concept underlying the promises of kings and tyrants? Against the foreign devil? Or is Insurgency for folk who find Counter-Strike too arcadey, ArmA too serious, and want something that’s a bit like Red Orchestra but is not Red Orchestra?

Eternal questions like this are addressed below.

Forgive the histrionics, but when a game’s called Insurgency in this day and age it inspires all sorts of thoughts – the first being we may we due a smarter kind of ‘shoot the man’ FPS than usual. Insurgency is not this. Instead it’s a narrative-free team-based military shooter, one that tiptoes a tightrope between Serious Guns Yo and wave-based spawning.

At times it wobbles, but Insurgency’s disparate ideas just about stay upright thanks to the quality of its gun mechanics. Now I’m not the kind of dude who masturbates over pictures of disassembled AK-47s, but I do enjoy the feel of a good virtual weapon, and everything about Insurgency’s hardware is high-on perfect in terms of feel.

Bringing up a gun’s sights is a slow business. Hip-firing at any distance over ten centimetres is a big no-no. Reloading almost anything gives you time to make a cup of tea. And when you click to pull the trigger, those bullets instantly down any target you hit. So many games feel like you’re toting around a fantasy cannon that fires fruit pastilles. Insurgency’s guns feel like weapons.

The flipside of this is that, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time either dying or crawling around on all fours before seeing an enemy and then dying. Insurgency makes you jump constantly, because death is nearly always so swift and unexpected. But one of the cool things about Insurgency is that it melds these mechanics with much more ‘gamey’ context and modes than you’d expect.

The Counter-Strike comparison, for example, was never far from my mind while playing because you’re constantly accumulating Supply, the currency used to purchase weapon upgrades and assorted other kit between spawns. Unlike Counter-Strike you retain what you’ve bought over deaths, meaning that even an average player cough can soon enough be toting some pretty impressive hardware.

Alongside a standard deathmatch mode, Insurgency offers several variants on King of the Hill – including one called Occupy with a central point that, once captured, grants your team extra reinforcement waves. To be honest these modes, while obviously an essential part of the package, didn’t inspire me. Insurgency’s the kind of game where, when you let people camp, they’re going to camp at Max Efficiency, and these kind of fixed-point modes were perfect for it.

Insurgency finds its own identity in the Push and V.I.P Escort modes. The former has one team capturing three objectives one after the other and, while it might sound like another King of the Hill mode, these changing focal points pull your team together for concentrated attacks and ambushes. The icing on the cake here is that as you push and capture a point, your team gains more reinforcement waves – so a brilliant defence can lead to a very short game, or two evenly-matched teams will drag a match out to epic lengths.

Now Push mode is fairly awesome for the most part, but there is a qualifier. Most games I’d be enjoying the firefights and positional play enormously, then would die once and thereafter respawn and get sniped by people I never saw. Insurgency is just that type of game – of course there are players who make it their business to camp out spawning positions, and of course they’re going to try and do it in every match. In some games my team was good enough to hunt down these individuals quickly, and in others we were headless chickens. Put it this way: if you’re playing on a team with voicechat this won’t be a big issue, but if you’re soloing with randoms then it often is.

V.I.P Escort doesn’t have this problem, and it’s where I had easily the best time with Insurgency. The idea’s simple: one team has a VIP that they have to escort to either of two extraction zones. All sorts of things happen: your team might move fast as one group, big enough to punch through a thinly-spread defence and reach safety before there’s any further response. The mass of the team might go off in one direction, pulling the enemy towards them, while the VIP sneaks round another way with a small escort.

But most of the time everything just goes to hell, and the VIP tries to pick a way through it. There’s a wider point about Insurgency here: it’s a game that’s easily at its best when the objectives are shifting, and players have to negotiate the environment and fight at the same time. In the modes that let people sit around the overwhelming majority of players seem to – big surprise – just sit around with their iron sights up waiting for the next victim.

It’s worth mentioning that Insurgency also has co-op ambitions but – at this stage – things aren’t quite coming together. This may have just been bad luck, but I tried to play co-op missions with different buddies on two occasions, and both times the enemy AI wasn’t working. Well, I guess it worked if the aim is for insurgents to run towards you while not firing their guns.

So there are elements of Insurgency that are very much wait and see. But what matters at the moment is, despite a low number of active players, the fundamental gunplay feels really satisfying – there’s a thunk of finality to pulling the trigger every time, a sense that you can kill or be killed in any instant.

The question is whether the developers can build a structure around this that’s good enough to tempt you away from the obvious alternatives. Let’s get serious: going head-to-head with Counter-Strike, or even Red Orchestra, is going to be a losing battle. It’s in modes like Push and V.I.P Escort, which give direction to its team-based gunplay and create a flow even among strangers, that Insurgency might find a cause worth fighting for.

Insurgency is out now.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Isn’t this the game developed by the guy who actually made the original CS mod? If so, comparisons are inevitable. I suck at online shooters despite owning a load, I’ve finally learned my lesson though. Pass!

    • ditar59 says:

      my co-worker’s half-sister makes $83/hour on the laptop. She has been fired for nine months but last month her income was $21331 just working on the laptop for a few hours. visit this website ……. link to goo.gl

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      You’re thinking of Tactical Intervention. I believe this is based on the old HL2 mod of the same name.

    • Flopper says:

      I don’t like these kind of games that have insane recoil and long reload times. Games with heavy recoil appeal to people who never fired a weapon before. More specifically an AR-15/M-4/M16. That gun should feel like a toy gun with barely any recoil because that is realistic. You can fire an AR-15 with one hand so it’s very realistic to fire it with two with barely any recoil.

      Full auto that’s a different story. But single shots should not have very noticeable recoil.

  2. jonfitt says:

    It seems odd to not mention at all that this seems to be a standalone version of the HL2 Insurgency mod that’s been around for donkeys. (Much the same as Red Orchestra was a Unreal 2003/4 mod).
    I for one would be most interested to hear how it has changed or improved upon the existing mod. I’m probably not the only one who played it back in the day.

    • jonfitt says:

      Further research shows that this is a re-branded Insurgency 2 which was to pro project the original Insurgency team went off to make.

      There’s an interview with a chappy about the original mod from a ‘Karen Gillan’ here:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      I suspect that if one was wondering how this game played you could just try the free mod version and anticipate that this new version includes +15 graphics, and +10 bugfixes?

    • brad drac says:

      Quite odd indeed. I was wondering why this game existed. With the modern man-shoot market already so saturated, I can’t imagine a new multiplayer focused IP doing anything but crashing and burning.

    • Michelle says:

      my friend makes $83/hour on the laptop. She has been fired for nine months but last month her income was $21331 just working on the laptop for a few hours check it quickly>>>>>> link to goo.gl

  3. Dudeist says:

    Screenshot from my custom map for INS, I’m so proud lol :P

  4. phelix says:

    How’s the sound design of the guns, on a scale of ArmA to Project Reality?

  5. bangalores says:

    THANK YOU for highlighting what is easily this game’s biggest problem right now: too many game modes with not enough variation between each.

    I agree with you, Push and VIP are the only two modes which this game needs right now.

    Unfortunately, I raised this criticism in-game last week, and when I asked those who disagreed to explain how these modes differentiated themselves enough to justify their existence, was promptly banned from the only populated server in the game. So, no more Insurgency for me :)

    Such a lovely community….

    • rapchee says:

      i have not seen such hostility so far, tbh the only way i can imagine this happening is if you convey your question loaded with profanity
      plus there’s usually more the one populated server at a time.

  6. rapchee says:

    As a fan of the mod, i approve of this game.
    “I suspect that if one was wondering how this game played you could just try the free mod version and anticipate that this new version includes +15 graphics, and +10 bugfixes?”
    Yes, i would say so, although i would add +3 gamemodes (i think), +customizeable guns/loadouts (which i really like).
    In short, fast paced, exciting tactical shooter.
    What i missed from the review was the mention of another, old gamemode, that’s included, which is Firefight. Not that it’s something revolutionary, just “capture the objectives”, with 3-5 objectives per map, but the order of capturing is not fixed, and the spawn points don’t change (unlike in Push) which can make hectic times.
    Also, i’m really not sure about the existence of deathmatch. To be precise, i’m pretty sure there isn’t.
    Also, the game is in early access, not fully out yet.
    Oh and the coop mode is working as inteded (i think) atm

    • Dudeist says:

      firefight was removed from game few months ago. Today they added other game modes link to steamcommunity.com

      • rapchee says:

        It might be removed, but i can still see quite a few servers with it. Perhaps it’s not officially supported anymore? I was really surprised to see your comment, because i had a firefight game just a couple of days ago, and couldn’t really get what was going on.

  7. Shooop says:

    It’s 2013 and no one making this game has put a single thought into how to prevent spawn camping?

    Disgraceful. I’m glad this didn’t make it on Kickstarter, it doesn’t deserve to be made.

    • P.Funk says:

      This is why I’ve always been a Project Reality nerd. 2-4km maps where you build your own spawn point and if you put it somewhere where you can be sniped at max range your tactics suck and if the enemy comes within a hundred meters or something of it you can’t spawn on it anymore. Plus all fixed spawn points are usually inside a dome of death away from campers.

      The problem with spawn camping is that its a symptom of a game style which tries to pack the action tightly into one area. Rolling waves of respawns means its hard to put you right back into the action without leaving you vulnerable to a camper especially if the spawn points are known on every map.

      • CPLDANABD says:

        ^ This, a thousand times this. On the topic, how amazing was the insurgency mode in PR. Such good times, pity there isn’t much of a community left in Aus at least when I last checked.

        • P.Funk says:

          PR is still decently active. You get around two 100 person servers plus extras.

          Anytime someone says “Insurgency” my first thought is “Project Reality”. Its really one of the few new complex FPS game modes that isn’t just a rehash of something else. It requires good teamwork for both sides, and it rewards the strategically minded. Its a brilliant counterpart to PR’s other staple, Advance and Secure.

    • rapchee says:

      There is spawn protection, as in, when you spawn, you are in a place that enemy players don’t have access too. However, once you make it to the spawn exit, you’re fair game, and some people can find well hidden spots to cover spawn exits. Communication and some experience helps to deal with these individuals.
      Also, in the previous patch they created “off limits” zones near the spawn on one map (at least), where enemy players’ weapons are lowered, but i find this too much. If one team sucks so bad, that someone can manage to get behind them, i think they should pay the price. There are plenty other shooters where the players are pampered like babies. This shit for real men. XD

  8. lando242 says:

    You guys really should have mentioned that this game is still in beta. I think you do a disservice to them by presenting this game as a final product while criticizing its flaws. The even released a big patch the same day you reviewed it.

    • P.Funk says:

      Considering its mostly a rehash of a mod that’s already been around for ages, beta would be a stretch compared to most games I think. Plus “Hands on” isn’t a “Wot I Think” is it?

      • lando242 says:

        Its a sequel not a rehash. By your logic Team Fortress 2 is a rehash and should have been bug free 6 months before release. INS is built on the Source engine now instead of the HL2 engine and they completely redid everything. New models, new textures, new levels, new game modes, everything.

    • Darloth says:

      The article is tagged with Preview…

  9. kwyjibo says:

    For Early Access games, can you try and list when the official release is due? Their store page just gives 2014, not exactly a narrow window.

    I’m not interested in providing feedback and beta testing a game, I’d like something polished. Several Early Access games pique my interest, but I’ve no idea when any of them are actually due for release.

  10. purdz says:

    The original Insurgency mod was easily one of the best multiplayer experiences I ever had. I ran an insurgency server back then and if you could get a team of people working together then it was incredibly good. Push was incredibly satisfying when both teams knew their role well and I’m glad that it’s made it back into this version and is still one of the better modes. The gun mechanics were good back then and it was very satisfying to pull off a shot and see your enemy drop down.
    It was one of the few shooters I played where tactics could beat the best players without a problem. Running around like you do In CS was just a sure fire way to have your team pushed back to a spawn point and annihilated.
    Are any of the original levels included? I can’t remember the names now but the Mining complex and the one with the town square and surrounding buildings were my favourites.

  11. vahnn says:

    Sounds excellent, I would really like to see this game come together. I’ve been waiting for a game with an excellent VIP multiplayer game mode since the Rainbow Six and TFC days.