ReviewsReview: Insurgency: Sandstorm

Review: Insurgency: Sandstorm

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There are many ways to observe the changing of the seasons. Check your calendar, look out of your window, or have a look at the latest game releases. Chances are, if it’s loaded with first-person shooters, then it’s Autumn and you’ll be staying indoors glued to your computer. Insurgency: Sandstorm joins the flood of new FPS titles to the market. Does it have what it takes to stand out, or will it quickly be forgotten?

Developed by New World Interactive and published Focus Home Interactive, this is a hardcore first-person shooter. The sequel to the much-loved Insurgency, this title aims to build on its well-received mechanics while taking advantage of the next-gen hardware.

Insurgency: Sandstorm is realistic but doesn’t rely on real events.

Many games in this genre try to boost their dramatic approach by utilising real events, however, Insurgency: Sandstorm is different. It doesn’t rely on building its atmosphere and excitement by borrowing from harrowing events. No, instead it uses intense mechanics and tactical elements to increase its difficulty and to make its player base return.

Having recently played Hell Let Loose, I thought I had my fill of tough hardcore shooters, but I was wrong! This equally challenging title has realistic weaponry, an array of classes and leans heavily on Middle Eastern urban combat. The action is split into distinct categories of online multiplayer and cooperative. The latter asks you to fight AI bots, whereas the first is all about the online cooperative spirit.

Bang bang, you’re dead!

The lack of a story will disappoint.

I’m not a gamer who needs or wants a story mode when I play shooter titles. If I’m honest, I can’t remember ever playing a single-player campaign mode. However, I’m in the minority and the lack of a good story will upset many gamers. Though I don’t look for a story mode, it is an oversight, as many of the elements would have worked brilliantly to create an enthralling tale.

With no campaign mode in sight, the game relies heavily on an addictive yet highly tactical approach that will push players to their limits. This action is played across five game modes and each comprises two teams, Security and Insurgents. The latter have dated weapons such as AK-74, M1 Garand and the Welrod. Whereas Security have more advanced technology, that’s associated with NATO countries, such as MP7, L85A2, and the M4 Carbine.

You may worry that dated weaponry will make the battle unfair, yet fear not! The developers have balanced the weaponry nicely and skills and tactics are the key factors that decide victory.

The night is on fire.

Classes and customisation.

What I love about the shooter genre is the blend of classes to choose from. The mixture leads to some interesting tactical elements and an array of firepower on display. Insurgency: Sandstorm is generous in this department with eight classes to choose from: Rifleman, Breacher, Marksman, Observer, Commander, and more. Each has unique weaponry, but the Commander has the ability to call in support if a friendly observer is close by. This was a fantastic example of teamwork and added a brilliant tactical layer that can turn any battle in your favour.

Alongside the tactical elements were the opportunities to customise your fighter. You can change their appearance, but more importantly, you can add attachments to your loadout. Subsequently, understanding what your teammates are using is key to being victorious! A blend of firepower is essential to overwhelming your opponents and there is little advantage if you all run the same gear.

You can add lasers, sights, grips, underbarrel attachments, explosives, and more to any weapon you can wield. Your only limitations are the number of points you have to spend on each setup. This was an excellent choice as it forces you to focus on your play style by making a loadout to match it.

A game mode for everyone.

I found it refreshing that both the online and cooperative modes have a selection of available game modes. This inclusive approach was interesting to see, and it reduced the toxicity that I’ve come to expect from the genre.

Many of the modes focus on objective-based gameplay, whether it’s ‘domination’ or attack and defend scenarios. This wasn’t a surprise as the developers wanted communication and teamwork to be key components. You must move together as a unit to ensure that everyone stays alive. However, sadly, death is all but guaranteed for the less skilled players, though this matters not.

If you die, and you will, you observe your teammates until the objective is captured or the wave timer runs down. This was an excellent mechanic as it rewards the more skilled team with a player advantage and increases the difficulty at the same time.

Lives long abandoned.

Hardcore mechanics are reminiscent of Rainbow Six Siege.

Rainbow Six Siege has drawn in big numbers for many years and its fan base love the tactical approach and slower gameplay. Many of these elements are found within Insurgency: Sandstorm. Therefore, running around like a headless chicken is not advisable.

An understanding of the fine details and familiarising yourself with the maps and objectives is key to being a great teammate. The learning curve is understandably tough because of the realistic elements, but once you find a great team and you overcome the many hurdles in your way you’ll have a blast.

Insurgency: Sandstorm reminded me of COD 4 crossed with PUBG.

Insurgency: Sandstorm’s desert aesthetic and old-school background instantly reminded me of COD 4. This style then extended to the weaponry and the way you move. The uncanny similarities gave the gameplay a familiar edge and, subsequently, the realistic approach has an arcade feel to it. This then blends into a PUBG style title when you look at the character customisation and the menu interface. The strange combination wasn’t unpleasant and the dated look ran smoothly. Furthermore, the arcade edge diminished the realistic approach a little and I would have liked something closer to Hell Let Loose.

Audio is always key in any game I play, but in shooters, it has to be superb. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed! Shots whizzed past my head, footsteps sounded around me, and the quiet noise of weapons reloading can be heard. The attention to detail is phenomenal and the graphics are soon forgotten as you are sucked into the action.

They could be hiding anywhere.

Where the shot lands, matters!

Being able to control your weapon has never been so important. With recoil playing a big part, you must learn the intricacies of each gun. Unleashing a clip of bullets like Harry out of Dumb and Dumber is entirely possible, so practise and patience are key. As this is an ultra-realistic title, headshots matter! Shooting someone in the arm or leg will sting, but landing a shot in the chest or head will drop them. You must be accurate and luckily the controls help as they are responsive, and easy to pick up.

A thorough tutorial walks you through your paces, but it’s no match for in-game experience. Fortunately, the well thought out layout reduces the learning curve and gives you a fighting chance against other players.

The tough nature of the gameplay may put off some gamers, but if you can get to grips with it and find a good team, you’ll fall for its charms. Its brutality makes it both rewarding and addictive and its ever-changing gameplay makes it moreish.

Insurgency: Sandstorm will punish you.

The brutality surrounding its gameplay and its punishing mechanics will divide the FPS community. Its tough and unforgiving ways won’t be for everyone. Yet, if you get hooked, you’ll experience a truly rewarding title similar to Rainbow Six Siege. It chewed me up and spat me out, but I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! War has never been so tough! You must work together, master your class, and win every battle you take on.

SUMMARY

Insurgency: Sandstorm is a hardcore ultra-realistic shooter that will make you wince. Its bizarre graphics don't undermine its quality and its audio transports you to the battlefield. With excellent customisation options and many classes, you'll find the right role and weapon to match your playstyle.

+ Incredible audio.
+ Excellent level design.
+ Plenty of customisation options.
+ Tough but rewarding gameplay.
+ Addictive if you have a group of friends to play with.
- No story mode.
- It may be too hard for some.
- A bizarre blend of graphical styles.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Review: Insurgency: SandstormInsurgency: Sandstorm is a hardcore ultra-realistic shooter that will make you wince. Its bizarre graphics don't undermine its quality and its audio transports you to the battlefield. With excellent customisation options and many classes, you'll find the right role and weapon to match your playstyle.<br/> <br/> + Incredible audio.<br/> + Excellent level design.<br/> + Plenty of customisation options.<br/> + Tough but rewarding gameplay.<br/> + Addictive if you have a group of friends to play with.<br/> - No story mode.<br/> - It may be too hard for some.<br/> - A bizarre blend of graphical styles.<br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC and PlayStation.)<br/>