This is a horse of a faintly different colour compared to Avalanche Studio's past efforts, but now the Just Cause 2 developer has decided to venture into the territory of downloadable games with Renegade Ops, a twin-stick vehicular shooter it's decorated with the moniker of "triple-A downloadable".
Renegade Ops follows a well-worn path forged by the likes of early 90's helicopter shmup Jungle Strike. Similar to the Strike series, the game adopts an overhead perspective and has you take control of a vehicle which will become your primary weapon.
Enemies vary from foot soldiers and snipers to tanks and helicopters, often with many attacking at once. On the other hand, you've been fitted with a gatling gun that can be upgraded when you pick up alternative weapons in the game, and an EMP ability that provides a basic but effective stun. Even without making use of your weapons your vehicle is surprisingly capable at ramming into objects.
The game's fully destructible environment means snipers hidden inside thatch buildings can be dealt with by driving squarely through the middle of the structure. Enemies on foot are similarly easy targets. The more chaos you create the more you add to your Damage Streak, which gives way to additional bonus points, as do picking up health boxes or performing stunts like hurtling yourself off high cliffs.
Each level has main and secondary objectives that need to be fulfilled within a certain period of time - you're given an alert three minutes before the mission fails, at which point it's Game Over. Most objectives shown in the available level involved finding prisoners of war and taxiing them to specific locations within a time limit, with some additional missions which demanded you take out particular targets before they reach certain destinations.
Comic book style panels form the basis of the game's cutscenes, to give further retro/indie appeal, while similarly comic book-styled talking heads will pop up overhead with a short running commentary of your status in the game or growl the occasional "Nice!" as you wipe out targets.
Avalanche maintains it is largely influenced by retro titles, with game designer Axel Lindberg fondly referencing how Shadow Complex utilised Super Metroid's mechanics and re-interpreted retro gaming for a modern gamer's palette.
The self-dubbed "AAA" nickname implies that it shares a kind of pedigree with the Just Cause franchise, too, and in terms of aesthetics Renegade Ops is very clearly closely related. The demo level takes a similar island-centric path, with the tropical zone providing the backdrop for a premise that has you attempting to overthrow an evil madman who has taken hostage areas around the world. Those visual similarities extend to its engine, the same used for Just Cause 2.
A near maniacal pace is already present in single-player, but Renegade Ops feels tailor made for co-operative play. And, luckily, the game features 2-player split screen and 4 player online co-op alongside its single-player campaign – the first time Avalanche will have developed a multiplayer component. With the lack of a co-operative mode in Just Cause 2, it's likely most of us will be looking forward to seeing how Avalanche handles multiplayer in this downloadable title.
Renegade Ops is due this summer on XBLA, PSN and Steam.