Renegade Ops preview

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There are moments during Avalanche's raucous action game, Just Cause 2, where it can get quite serene: the explosions have died down and you're floating through the air like a dandelion seed. Ahhhh. There are no relaxing moments in their new download only top-down twin-stick shooter: Renegade Ops, between the explosions are more, bigger eruptions. No 'ahhhh' moments whatsoever. From the moment I spilled off the giant hovercraft in my jeep, the screen was filled with bullets and bangs.

It's a cartoonish battle against super villain Inferno drops General Bryant's troops in a pretty, tropical world (bigger than Oblivion) using the engine that powered Just Cause 2. Avalanche really wants you to use the sticks, so I'm not given the opportunity to try the beloved keyboard and mouse.

One thumbstick controls the vehicle's direction, the other directing a stream of infinite bullets into everything and anything. Additional powers, like an EMP that freezes enemies or missiles, are on the trigger buttons. The first vehicle, a jeep, skids through an overgrown, jungley world. There's a proper heft to it, and I have to fight to keep it going straight, every bump threatens to spin me out. Constant movement is needed to slip between flocks of ammo being sent from the enemies. From cannon fodder infantry to huge missile spewing trucks, I spin my jeep around, circling while arrowing the limitless supply of lead into the targets. It's not easy: the camera hugging the action, the bumpy terrain and the masses of enemies batters you about the head.

Everything explodes: the cage that's holding prisoners blows up, crates full of supplies go kablooy, escaping transport vehicles with kidnap victims kerassshh. There's no unnecessary faffing: you want to open something up, you shoot at it and drive over the reward. Delivering rescued prisoners means driving at a church and veering off at the last minute, basically throwing them in to the welcoming arms of god.

Things get more complicated when objectives layer on top of each other, vying for attention: I'm asked to stop the missile truck from killing a village, but there are still people to rescue. I panic and frantically take my truck off-road as a timer kicks in, bumbling over rutted fields towards the missile spewing truck, flipping my truck several times. I barrel into the little village, driving through buildings, and start circling the missile truck, dropping an EMP and peppering it till if fashooms! No time to rest, back to the church to toss the gathered prisoners into the church.

As all super villains have a backup plan, the game veers out to sea: madman Inferno's preparing a big assault from the comfort of a huge battleship. A helicopter is basically the jeep of the sky: this time in the air, there's less focus on keeping the thing on track, more allowing the bullets to destroy the ship's defenses and emerging warheads. Blatta-blatta-blatta. This feels more like a boss battle, stripping its defences then focussing fire on the warheads and, finally, Inferno himself.

For a first level, it's breathless. I do worry that it could be a bit one note, but then the action isn't quite as mindless as holding the stick down until everything dies.

The layered objectives, secondary weapons and rota of vehicles should make things interesting between bangs.