We got the chance to play Renegade Ops at the Sega Arcade down at San Diego Comic Con and we have to say the game is looking fantastic. Developed using the same engine as Just Cause 2 Avalanche Studios’ Renegade Ops is a twin stick shooter involving a black ops team specialized in vehicular combat–their goal: stop the terrorist agenda of Madman Inferno. Players take control of one of four different operatives each with their own vehicle and special ability. Players can join up alongside a buddy locally or up to three other players online.

A dynamic mission system gives players primary and secondary objectives to score points and advance the story which is voiced over entirely and accompanied by crisp comic-styled panels. Players compete competitively for points and cooperatively for mission completion all while  completing objectives in the most over-the-top, explosive way possible. Renegade Ops came about when Just Cause 2 developers turned the camera top-down and started messing around with the vehicles, so expect all the same fun with explosions, action and chaos.

The mission available for demo took place in the jungle (which is likely where most of them take place) and primary involved tracking down various targets for recovery or for destruction. General Bryant, the assembler of this gung-ho task force, dishes out mission objectives; break the prisoners out of jail and bring them back to the safe zone which seemed to be a bunkered out church. During the first mission we were having so much fun running and gunning, or rather driving and gunning, that the mission sometimes went unattended. With three minutes left on the clock a timer, complete with a dramatic slow down, appeared to ensure awareness of the time remaining to complete the mission. The timer mechanic normally feels like a cop out for a sense of urgency, but when being chased by bad guys and blowing them up for points is so fun it’s easy to get distracted, so the addition is welcome here.

As the mission progressed a new primary objective to destroy rocket trucks was issued. Okay, nothing fancy there. However, instead of just switching over to that mission and leaving the rest of the prisoners to be poked with sticks in their cages, we retained the secondary objective of rescuing them as well as well as recovering cargo from various supply vehicles and crates scattered along the journey to the primary objectives. This helped make the game feel open as we were tempted to explore, to drive over cliffs and through villages destroying everything we could see while making our way back and forth. On top of that, with every load of prisoners that were dropped off the church got renovated slightly with bulkier and sturdier, a cool thematic touch to help make the world feel real. To ensure there was no confusion, the primary objective arrow guide was red and the secondary objective was grey, making directions easy to distinguish from one another.

The action in Renegade Ops was definitely well representative of the twin-stick shooter genre. Enemies come out from the trees on foot, off of cliffs in jeeps, and shoot from buildings and cover. On top of that, during the rocket truck objective players will have to actually dodge the rockets as they are fired up into the air. The demo agent was Diz, the tech specialist. Her vehicle was a converted APC with an EMP generator in the back, so when the rear view mirror started to get a little crowded she could let out this burst to fry enemy vehicles. This made them easy targets and stopped their radio as well; there’s no worse way to go than without your favorite tunes. Each mercenary has their own ability (e.g. one deploys heavy armor to absorb massive damage, another goes stationary but deploys an incredibly powerful gun) and they’re designed to deal with swarms of enemies differently allowing players to pick the one that suits them best. While Renegade Ops has much more freedom of movement and exploration than many twin-stick shooters (often of the linear variety), it has no shortage of shooting and dodging, the essentials of the twin-stick package.

Renegade Ops promises crisp visuals, over the top explosions and theatrics, and tons of 80’s action movie throwbacks. This headband wearing, ammo spending, explosive barrel igniting experience delivers on the speed and action suggested by the premise and makes effective use of the Just Cause 2 engine. We look forward to experiencing the four player co-op and leaderboard functionality as well as some features that haven’t been disclosed yet. Can’t wait to see what they are and how they’ll fit into the already-solid twin-stick gameplay.