Don't Tell Me What To Do, I'm A Renegade!
Let's get one thing out of the way… Renegade Ops has a story, but it is utter shit. Basically you are part of a team of four RENEGADES who go out and do RENEGADE stuff to stop a bad guy, who's pretty RENEGADE himself, from doing RENEGADE stuff of his own. Everyone speaks like a bad guy from 70's Marvel comics and your team is composed of four RENEGADES who cover a whole array of RENEGADE stereotypes. 'Nuff said. The core gameplay is pretty standard TSS gameplay, as described above. So, crap story, semi-generic gameplay, must be a waste of time, right? Nope.
Somehow Renegade Ops has a unique sort of charm that is actually hard to get across in words. You and up to 3 online pals (or one other local pal) take on nine massive levels on some sort of exotic rainforest covered island. Each of you commandeers a vehicle that are basically the same, although each has it's own type of special weapon. You can go it alone, but it is significantly easier the more partners you have. All the action takes place in vehicles, and the vast majority of enemies are in vehicles as well. The sprawling levels take upwards of 30 minutes to complete, and during the course of each one you'll be given multiple primary and secondary objectives that boiled down to blow something up or grab something and deliver it somewhere. Again, no one is reinventing the wheel here.
In the spirit of games like Castle Crashers, each vehicle levels up separately for you as you use them, and leveling up gives you RENEGADE points that you can use to upgrade the Offense, Defense, or Special Weapon of each vehicle. These upgrades are more than just stat boosts, as each upgrade may provide new powers like the ability to survive for a few seconds after death, allowing you to collect some of the health crates that scatter everywhere when you blow up an enemy. In this way, each played can customize the vehicles to their own strengths and weaknesses, and giving a little more individuality.
You'll go up against some pretty tough vehicles as you traverse the levels, ranging from tanks to SAM missiles to crazy gyrocopters to aircraft carriers. You'll even switch to a helicopter yourself at times to bring the fight to the skies. The action is mostly nonstop, and you'll zip back and forth across the levels multiple times before you take care of all the objectives. One issue I ran into was that occasionally I'd get stuck in some trees and unable to extricate myself, but thankfully the game realizes when this happens and if you sit still for too long it will respawn you back at the nearest checkpoint. A bit of urgency is added to the proceedings as occasionally a three minute timer will start counting down if you take too long on any of the primary objectives, forcing you to drop everything and focus on one area.
Bottom line, my friend and I play an awful lot of co-op games, and Renegade Ops held our attention a lot longer than most do. We had a blast despite having been burned out on twin-stick shooters over the last year, and this is a game we will come back to trying out new combinations of vehicles and upgrades. Just ignore the story and let the good times roll.