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.
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.
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.
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩