New World Interactive hit the scene in terms of developing games in 2014 with Insurgency, a multiplayer tactical based first-person shooter, it was received with generally good reviews and caters to the more hardcore of players that thrive on difficult, no nonsense gameplay. Sandstorm seeks to replicate the formula and deliver the same tough fast-paced action as before but hopefully bring it to 2018.

There are three experiences to jump into and are all online, players taking on AI, players taking on each other and the third is PVP but ranked competitively. In the co-op section the only gamemode is checkpoint but from a glance it almost appears as two, the difference between them being which side you start on. Checkpoint is a rush style mode similar to the Battlefield staple, one by one, capture and destroy objectives. The twists come with respawns taking place after a point is either taken or destroyed and if the offensive team is successful in capturing the objective, they then need to endure a counter-attack as well. It takes a classic mode and changes it slightly, making it feel fresh, I enjoyed jumping in, and playing against the AI isn’t quite the walk in the park you would expect, there’s a challenge which is definitely welcome and great for getting in some practice.

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Versus mode provides the flexibility of getting better against players whilst not affecting your competitive rank. There are three modes available and whilst each are different in their own ways they also come across as a bit too similar. All three involve points to either capture, defend or destroy, two of them feature respawns occurring after a successful capture of an objective and a different combination of two have limited respawn waves. This presents the feeling that there is a lack of varied content and leads to me only being able to play for an hour or two at a time before getting bored and some will get to that place way before me.

Competitive play is a more tight knit mode with a five a side battle, three objectives, capture the most points or kill all enemies to win the round. This leads to faster fights and forces the ability to respond under pressure be it respond well or otherwise. The atmosphere this brings is addicting, constantly having to be aware of team-mates locations and communicate to keep tabs on what is happening and where. Easily a favourite mode of mine in all online shooters, I love being tactical and feeling a part of a team.

The Low TTK (Time To Kill) provides that harsh reality of imminent death when turning corners without checking them and running across map with no care, because you can get caught out and in one second be watching from the sidelines, waiting for a respawn. Of course, this goes both ways and allows you to really catch your opponent’s off guard. Furthermore, the minimalistic HUD means no unnecessary clutter on the screen, just your weapon and your surroundings, which allows skill to take precedence.

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I love the idea of being able to access all weaponry and upgrades from the get-go however this leaves an almost empty progression system that only allows you to earn customisation items through play. With all weapons available there is a supply point mechanic that gives you limited currency to spend on a layout for any given round and can be adjusted throughout each game which offers a balance of flexibility and restriction needed in this type of game.

Back to the equipment, there are a ton of toys to have at and experiment with, I went straight to work toying with the various combinations of what to take, when to make use of them and sometimes how to use them. I often favoured the sniper rifles as they allowed me to keep an eye from afar and take pick off enemies before they even reach the objectives, didn’t always work out that way but that is what I’m going to tell myself.

The six maps are different in terms of layout but aesthetically they are all too alike which doesn’t help in conducing a long play session. They look good, don’t get me wrong but it’s the same thing almost across each map with one outlier, they certainly got the title right in Sandstorm, because that’s what it is, sand everywhere which wouldn’t be any form of issue if executed right. Visual fidelity in shooters often go hand in hand lately but I don’t quite see the 2018 quality we have to come to expect, having said that in no way is this a bad looking game, by any stretch of the imagination.

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I must applaud the technical aspects of the level design, attention to detail went into ensuring each map added something to the gameplay, providing plenty of areas and points that can be used for great advantage or even disadvantage. I was constantly on my toes, ensuring I was aware of my surroundings, keeping an eye on windows, ledges and even the so many murder holes you can find throughout.

Sound is vital in allowing you to immerse yourself in the and keep track of enemy footsteps, so it’s great to see or rather hear that sound design has certainly been a priority for the team at New World Interactive. I found myself using hearing nearly more so than sight to work up a plan on the fly to decimate the competition, yeah, I have issues.

OVERALL – 7.9/10 – GOOD

Insurgency: Sandstorm is a competent shooter that absolutely does what it needs to, bring fast-paced tactical gameplay into 2018 and almost 2019 now. The maps are incredibly well designed and do a lot in adding depth to the already enjoyable and tough gameplay. There is a lack of varied content and content in general but those who don’t bore easy when subjected to the same thing over and over will feel at home here. Finally the mid-ground between realism and arcade style has been well-tread providing a satisfying experience catering to many players.

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: Jester Says received a review copy of Insurgency: Sandstorm, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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