REVIEW: Assault Ops

Playing at war online can be a lonely place on XBLIG. Pick any game and it’s an epidemic, even for new releases. The majority of the service’s already-infinitesimal audience is scattered between a handful of popular titles, with the rest of the online games left to fight for stragglers, or, sadly, abandoned altogether1. Rendercode Games‘ newest, Assault Ops ($1.00), is no exception.

Assault Ops - Screen

Not that you’re missing out on much excitement here. Assault Ops is a twin-stick online shooter, featuring your typically-generic combatants / weapons, but an atypical isometric view. You can choose from a handful of soldiers, with only slightly-varying stats. One might have more agility, while another boasts higher firepower. Really though, the differences are cosmetic, as they (and the guns) all play the same. Defeated foes drop health packs and ammunition, ensuring you’re always topped out after each confrontation.

The online component is a nice option to have, but it’s exceedingly-basic and as generic as its character choices. It supports up to eight players, in a Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch scenario. Tweak the score conditions for victory, or the amount of time on the clock for each round, and that’s about it. Unfortunately, you’ll likely never find a match or other players online2. The game does offer A.I. bots in place of human competition, ranging from Easy to Hard, and this will probably be your only means of trying out the game.

Assault Ops - Screen2

Four soldiers on-screen at once!? Never happens.

Assault Ops has just one arena, albeit a very large one, with plenty of buildings and and corners to peek around. Of course, that size works against it as well. Given the length of the map, and the pseudo-intelligence of the A.I., you’ll wander for a bit between the (almost entirely) 1 vs. 1 firefights, eventually stumbling onto an opponent, or they you. The isometric camera doesn’t give you the longest of sightlines, either,  making it hard to spot threats until they’re practically on top of you.

You may prefer those odds in a straight fight, but don’t expect any massive battle of wills or heavy firepower. Otherwise, Assault Ops plays fine, and controls well enough. It just doesn’t do anything new or interesting, at all, and the complete lack of a community means you’ll be fighting this war all by yourself.

  1. I used to fault indie games for ignoring online components. Now, I can completely forgive them for it. It no longer pays off. I’m no fan of local multiplayer either, but it’s certainly the safer bet these days. Sad state of affairs, my friends. 
  2. I tried on four occasions, different times, weekdays and the weekend. Not once did I find a single game, and no one ever joined my hosted match. A shame, but to be expected. 

13 thoughts on “REVIEW: Assault Ops”

  1. I’m really pissed this game don’t have a true single player campaign. It looks really good and controls seem spot on. Really big missed opportunity if you ask me. I love twin stick shooter games.

    1. At the minimum, some kind of ‘level up’ feature where you gain XP for cumulative kills / points, and unlock certain guns, characters, skins, etc. Sure, it’s nice to have everything unlocked from the start, but it really negates replayability. That said, I could see this as a single-player game, mowing down waves of enemies like an isometric Ikari Warriors or Commando. The old school stuff.

    2. The single player mode was meant as practice only. Many of the top-selling XBLIG shooters (particularly the avatar ones) don’t even have bots in single player, let alone a campaign. But in this case the focus on multiplayer didn’t work out for whatever reason.

      Thanks for the review Tim.

    3. @Rendercode Games: No problem on the review, and very true, as far as shooters that don’t have a single-player option. I’m grateful for the option, even if it does feel a little undercooked / boring after a few matches.

      Multiplayer is the obvious choice / main focal point for games of this type, but as I’m sure you’re aware of, XBLIG has taken a turn for the worse. I wish it wasn’t the truth, but not as many people playing online these days, let alone buying the game to begin with. It’s a definite crime that the service has to slowly die off like this, but I suppose we all knew it would happen that way.

  2. Once again your review is deadly accurate, and right on time might I add. It seems like every time I try out one of the most recent indies, I can check out your site the next day and there’s already a review up; mirroring most of my exact sentiments. I agree with dream poet as well, this game wouldn’t have been such a bust if it would have had some sort of single player campaign, kinda like that Dead War game that was supposed to come out.. btw whatever happened to that game, Tim? aha

    1. Well, thank you, sir. Some games I’m more timely on than others. Assault Ops is nearly two weeks old now, but I’ve found (via searches) that it usually takes about two weeks after release for an XBLIG game to get ‘noticed’. Strange how that works.

      I thought the same as you guys, expecting a campaign, but alas, it was not to be. Dead War is (probably) still on the way. When I posted that preview, I kinda did it on my own. The developer was grateful for it, but it sort of seemed to me that the project was still in the thick of development. Could be that, or fine-tuning, perhaps. Real-life jobs getting in the way, etc. There’s still a few games out there (that I haven’t covered here) that might be coming out yet. 🙂

  3. I was hoping you would review this game. Thanks. I was also hoping for some single player mission type game as I love twin stick shooters and this looked so promising. Since it’s been only the last year that I had Gold I’ve never found a good online Indie game. Not even the popular games have many online at any one time. I guess that is what I get for being late to the Gold Subscriptions.

    1. I kinda expected a ‘campaign’ of sorts myself, given Rendercode’s previous games. Anything but a simple Deathmatch setup with bots. There’s an online leaderboard that would (supposedly) track overall score, but there’s no listings, of course. As I was saying in the always-popular ‘footnotes’, I really feel bad about pressuring Devs to implement online play in XBLIGs, only to see the service take a total nosedive as it has. I don’t know if anybody ever took that to heart based on what I said in a review, but I hope not. :/

      This is pure speculation, mind you, but probably one of the only indie games left with any kind of consistent audience might be Murder Miners. That’d be your best bet for finding games, provided you like the Halo / Minecraft mold.

    2. Ah, yes, Shark Attack Deathmatch. The game I didn’t have good things to say about in the original review, but ate those words later on, after the update(s).

      So people are still online for that too, eh? It’s a fun game to play with friends, but it’s not one I’d peg to still be going after all this time. Hey, more power to the Devs (and the players). 🙂

    3. No thank you on Murder Miners nor Shark Attack Deathmatch., Not that I consider them bad games just honestly the whole multiplayer this is meh to me for the most part. I just can’t commit the time that it takes to get used to any one game I guess. Gotta remember I went 6 plus years without gold even. Now I’m enjoying the free games with gold and occasionally getting into something online. Mainly poker but even that without real money can get boring.

    4. True enough. Between Games with Gold and the PSN lineup month after month, you really can’t go wrong. Little tired of seeing people complain about ‘Oh, this is why I bought my PS4 / XbOne, to play crappy indie games’, but hey, their loss. I sometimes forget we live in a world where people can be given free games (that are great, by the way), and still find any excuse to bitch about it. Such is life.

      Well, then in that case, yeah, you’re kind of out of luck on the XBLIG front. No gambling with real money XBLIGs I know of. 😀

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