Insurgency: Sandstorm Review – A Fun, if Unoriginal, Modern Day Shooter

Insurgency: Sandstorm
New World Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

Insurgency: Sandstorm recently blazed its way into the shooter genre, and its developers, New World Interactive, have billed it as both a “realistic” and “tactical” type of first-person shooter. In my eyes, this is only partially correct. Let me explain why…

Insurgency: Sandstorm’s main draw are its thee (very similar) PvP competitive modes, which basically boil down to two teams slugging it out for capture points, or one team trying to destroy (or defend) munitions caches. Players take the roles of either Security or Insurgent forces and have a wide variety of classes to pick from.

However, this is no Squad or Project Realty, where players are organized into separate squads—allowing their particular specialties to shine. Instead, people just pick their classes and then run off randomly because teamwork isn’t emphasized. Since there is hardly any team cohesion to speak of (unless a few people randomly utilize a little teamwork) most Insurgency: Sandstorm PvP games resemble glorified Team Deathmatch affairs.

Probably the only way that Insurgency: Sandstorm’s PvP mode is in anyway realistic is that only a couple of well-placed rounds can kill you. However, since most of the game’s servers are filled with younger-types who seem to have migrated over from CounterStrike: Global Offensive, and the Call of Duty series, you’ll see a lot of people running around Rambo-style anyways.

There are no medic classes, and hence just like any of the Call of Duty or Battlefield titles, you’ll die quickly and then respawn back in within a few seconds. Rinse, and repeat. Player’s downed bodies also disappear seconds after dropping, further adding to the sense of arcade-y-ness. Yes, we’ve all been here before folks, over and over and over before; the same so-so weapon customizations, the same fast running speeds, the same flashy muzzle bursts.

Fortunately, I recently discovered Insurgency: Sandstorm’s Co-op mode, which is an entirely different beast altogether. In Co-op, you’ll be banded together with up to seven other comrades on the Security forces team. You’ll begin by motoring in via back of a transport truck and then disembark on the outskirts of each map. From there, you and your team have to carefully inch forward through small shantytowns, decrepit oil facilities, and bottlenecked checkpoints.

The same amount of lethality seeps over from the game’s PvP mode to this PvE mode, so you have to constantly communicate with your team and call out threats if you’re going to be successful. For instance, my first few games of Co-op consisted of joining servers filled with “silent assassin” types who just sort of ran off and did their own thing, and were all apparently mic-less. These games ended up as they should—individual players running off willy-nilly and getting blasted by the enemy in short order.

However, once I found a good server (it had “Tactical” in its title and actually lived up to that), the game transformed into a tactical shooter’s paradise. All of a sudden, big grown-ups were calling out enemy positions, requesting backup assistance, or developing strategies over their comms. In other words, each player wasn’t some lone finger off in its own, but rather all formed part of a hand, which then turned into a fist, which eliminated the enemy with cold, methodical efficiency.

Game mechanics-wise, Insurgency: Sandstorm is pretty darn sound. Well, besides the too-fast running speed. I guess I’m just used to real tactical games like Squad and Escape From Tarkov, where you move more slowly…which means…(wait for it)…more tactically.

The game’s gunplay is definitely on point—all of the weapons feel weighty and emit a hearty report when you fire them. Explosions can literally be deafening; your combatant will lose their hearing if they’re too close to grenade or RPG blasts.

Gunfire also sounds different depending on your environmental surroundings. If you’re in an enclosed area, gun reports are so loud that they almost form a solid wall of sound. Likewise, if you’re close to a wall, your gunfire will echo off of its surface of the wall and reverberate outwards from there.

In conclusion, Insurgency: Sandstorm isn’t going to win any awards for originality—the devs totally played it safe. However, it can be a fun and exhilarating shooter (mainly in Co-op mode) if you’re playing with teamwork-minded individuals, instead of those who are constantly worried about their K/D ratios.

SCORE: 74%

Insurgency: Sandstorm features great graphics that make its first-person shooter gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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