Review- Insurgency: Sandstorm
Rarely does a game come along that captures the essence of what it truly feels like to be a combatant in a chaotic battle or warzone, while many have lauded the 1998 movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ as being the movie that truly brought home how horrific, chaotic, and senseless war truly is, Insurgency Sandstorm is the gaming world’s version of that movie. Whilst Insurgency Sandstorm has its issues in gameplay, there can be no doubt that this game does not shy away from the truth of what war truly is with the representation of war brought to life by New World Interactive.
Insurgency Sandstorm is another entrant in the genre of war and action games. Originally released in 2018 on PC, the console version of this game has finally been released for players to sink their teeth into on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and the Playstation 5 with an update coming sometime in 2022 to harness the power of the new generation of consoles. For this review, Insurgency: Sandstorm was reviewed on an Xbox Series X.
One feature of Sandstorm that was a shock to come across on the first multiplayer game and took a little bit to get used to was using a minimal HUD which meant that there was no health bar, ammunition count, or minimap for players to draw information from. Insurgency Sandstorm has slow, tactical, realistic gameplay, with moments of intensity that makes players feel as they are truly in a warzone. Weapons are accurate and extremely deadly, which forces players to emphasize teamwork to win the match just as any real life team in the military would whilst during combat operations whilst engaged in a battle with enemy forces.
Insurgency: Sandstorm forces players to be smart in how they attack a map and one feature that stands out from other war games is the fact that most game modes in Sandstorm do not have instant respawns. rather, when a player dies in battle they are then forced to spectate their teammates who are still alive and wait for their team to complete an objective to respawn. Improvements from Insurgency include better visuals, fire support, the addition of a player progression system, character customization, cosmetic unlocks, as well as larger maps and drivable technicals.
The game modes in Insurgency Sandstorm include Versus, Push, Firefight, Frontline, Domination, and Ambush. These game modes offer the player a wide variety of online versus matches against other players whilst the Co-op mode offers modes such as Checkpoint, Hardcore Checkpoint, Outpost, and Survival. These modes ensure that players feel that there are plenty of options to choose from when seeking to enter a gaming server.
Like most modern warfare games, Insurgency Sandstorm has eight classes with varying armaments: Rifleman, Breacher, Advisor, Demolitions, Marksman, Gunner, Observer, and Commander on offer that players can choose from. Limited supply points to spend on weapons and equipment will force players to choose wisely when building classes and setting up weapons and equipment whilst players start to gain XP to move up through the ranks. Each class has its benefits but during the review, the most enjoyable class to use was the rifleman class which enables players to gain a true appreciation for what each class offers especially when a team is made up with players choosing different classes and skills again, this draws a parallel to how real life military teams would be made up before being deployed to the battlezone.
Sandstorm gives players a wide range of choices in how they can modify their weapons with attachments much like Call of Duty or Battlefield does. The modifications on offer are things such as weapon sights, laser sights, bipods, muzzle attachments, suppressors, and foregrips, with additional attachments available for specific guns and classes, such as underbarrel explosive grenade launchers for Demolitions. Gas masks, night-vision goggles, rocket launchers, plastic explosives, and various types of grenades are also available.
One thing that could be seen as a criticism for some is the fact that each of the 33 firearms and the dozen or so attachments are unlocked from the very get-go, with the only limiting factors being your class, faction, and loadout points. This leads to players feeling as if they have been stripped of the opportunity to unlock the different modifications and classes as they progress through the levels whilst playing the game. That being said, as stated before, Sandstorm has carved its path by taking a different route when compared to other war games.
Much like other war multiplayer games, the players are separated into two teams known as Security and Insurgents. The security team’s main weapons which are modernized weapons primarily come from NATO countries, such as the M4 carbine, G36K, L85A2, and MP7, whilst the Insurgent team will find themselves using a mix of older and cheaper weaponry, ranging from Russian weapons like the AK-74, TOZ-194, and PKM to outdated World War II-era weapons such as the Welrod and the M1 Garand which has been captured with its well known “ping” sound when the clip is ejected after bullets run out.
The effort that New World Interactive went to create realistic weaponry on the battlefield leaves the player in no doubt that this is a serious game. During various battles on the multiplayer maps and playing with a pair of Turtle Beach Stealth 600, the sounds of bullets whizzing by and the snap sound they made as they impacted on the wall combined with a burst of automatic gunfire against a nearby metal surface is almost enough to cause you to go deaf. Whilst many of us have never been in combat, Insurgency: Sandstorm offers players a much more realistic representation of war than seen typically in games.
It is only fair to offer players a warning, the sounds captured for Insurgency: Sandstorm are intense, they are at times, disturbing and distressing most noticeably when players hear the blood-spewing coughs and the labored, wailing death rattles produced by both your enemies and allies. It only serves to further the notion that Insurgency: Sandstorm isn’t your average Call of Duty or Battlefield game rather, it is a game that holds nothing back when it comes to bringing warfare to life.
It is not to say that Insurgency Sandstorm is without its issues, one of those issues revolves around the restricted areas on the maps and how those areas appear to players via a bright-red on-screen text and an angry AI callout when you cross the map borders which are invisible to the players while they are in battle. With no visual language in either the map design or HUD that distinguishes where these boundaries are, and many can simply be ignored to unfairly access a legal area, this leaves the player facing the prospect of learning the ins and outs of where players can and cannot go in a particular portion of a particular map on a particular mode create total guesswork, this can lead to chaotic firefights especially when on a map that holds up to 32 players.
During certain multiplayer matches, there were moments where few minor bugs were found however, the vast majority of these bugs are of a graphical nature which should mean that they are hopefully easy for the game developers to fix with subsequent game patches. There were only 3 main can only think of three larger issues worthy of bringing up: there is no way for players to disable mic chirp noises of allied players even if you mute them which leads to frustration and a desire to play without sound. The vaulting mechanisms can be tricky at the best of times which can lead to players being killed when they are unable to vault over objects. And lastly, there were occasions where the weapon refused to fire despite being loaded with ammunition and these precious seconds between being able to fire or not fire meant it was a matter of life and death.
Insurgency: Sandstorm is not a game for those under the ages of 15, nor is it one that could be played when kids are around in the living room. It truly holds nothing back with its representation of war, of chaotic battlefields and, of soldiers dying on the field of battle. The sounds alone are enough to cause nightmares for those who are too young to understand what they see before them on the tv.
J for One More Game
8 – Great – this is a standout game where some minor changes would make it amazing. You could easily justify your purchase of this game.
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Insurgency: Sandstorm was reviewed on Xbox Series X and is also available on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Playstation 5.
A digital code was kindly provided by the Publisher for the purpose of this review.
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