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E3 2011: Renegade Ops preview – hands on with jeeps, rockets, and many, many bullets

It's nice to see developer Avalanche Studios fully embracing the “madman hellbent on world domination” scenario so sorely missing from the gaming scene as of late. Games like Call of Duty and Homefront want to provide potential real-life scenarios dealing with China, Russia, Korea, Afghanistan, and more. Renegade Ops says nuts to this and makes us fear Inferno, an insane dictator with his own private military and finances. As the Renegade Ops – a GI Joe meets the A-Team rebel unit – you must venture across enemy lines and eliminate Inferno. Gameplay wise? That means this is a 1-4 player, top-down twin-stick shooter and you’re in a jeep with a monstrous machine gun and infinite ammo.

Set for release this Summer on XBLA and PSN, Renegade Ops places you in the shoes of one of four different uniquely-playing mobile commando unit. Drive around with the left thumbstick and fire with the right stick. The maps are huge and have you piloting from objective to objective, completing such tasks as transporting hostages to the church, taking down tanks, or conquering rocket trucks.

We played as the character who uses an EMP as his special ability (each ride has one, the other three being a shield, heavy cannon, and an air strike). Tapping the left trigger, we're able to set out a pulse disabling all electrical signals in the radius. Effectively, this serves as a stun weapon while we unload with machine guns or rockets. The radius starts out covering a small area, but you can upgrade the ability in between levels as apart of a skill tree. Basically, you earn points for completing objectives and eliminating enemies, which can then be used to upgrade your jeep before the next mission.

We had a lot of fun drifting around the jungle, driving through huts, blasting trucks to bits. We wanted to keep exploring the levels, but a timer would make sure we completed our objectives on time. We were told that by defeating the tanks at the end of the mission, we would next pilot a helicopter in one of the game's set pieces. We're promised you'll be able to drive other vehicles intermittently throughout the game, but Avalanche wouldn't reveal what they were just yet. Sadly, we lost all of our lives in the tank battle. There’s a strategy lesson for you kids: unless it’s a race, tank beats jeep most of the time.

We're sure if we had a buddy on-hand, then we could make short work of the armored beast. Luckily Renegade Ops has two-player offline co-op and four-player online-cop. In what's described as competitive co-op, you all compete for points and health upgrades, but are completing objectives together.

We're excited to see more of Renegade Ops. It’s a simple DLC title, but it’s the equivalent of a mid-budget popcorn movie – it’s not high art, but it’s plenty fun. We should have more info as the release date rapidly approaches, which right now is just the ambiguous date of “Summer 2011.” Stay tuned.

May 27, 2011