Renegade X – A Quick Look

feature[Originally posted on Gather Your Party on the 27th of February 2014]

Renegade X

Publisher: Totem Arts
Developer: Totem Arts
Platforms: Windows PC
Status: Open Beta/Free
Model/Price: Free Standalone

Renegade X is the long awaited standalone version of the Renegade 2007 mod, an attempt to recreate the multiplayer aspect of Command & Conquer: Renegade in Unreal Engine 3. The work on the project started around 2006, with a two hour single-player demo being released in 2012. After watching the Totem Arts’ project go in and out of development for the better part of a decade, my anticipation to get my hands on this game and take it for a spin has been almost palpable.

For the uninitiated, Command & Conquer: Renegade was a FPS/TPS/RTS genre-blend developed by Westwood Studios and released by EA in 2002. The game was a spinoff of the then popular Command & Conquer series of real-time strategy games, developed and released by the same studio. Renegade was a very unique game as it took the RTS concept of the franchise and mixed it with direct combat between units on the ground, seen from the eyes of the soldier instead of the commander. The single-player part of the game consisted of a story-driven campaign, while the multiplayer was what the game was most notorious for.

In multiplayer, the players were given access to a base that functioned similar to the main franchise’s RTS counterpart, with resource gathering and specialized buildings that gave access to upgrades and units. As in the single-player campaign, the goal of the multiplayer mode was destroying the base of the enemy, with unit upgrades from resources and refineries, vehicles and soldiers all providing the force to reach that goal.

The two factions of the C&C series that were represented in Renegade — The GDI (Global Defense Initiative) and The Brotherhood of NOD — had strengths and weaknesses as well as unique buildings and units to put into play.

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Structurally and mechanically, not much has changed from the original game;Renegade X accurately recreates the multiplayer component, so anyone familiar with the original game will most likely feel right at home in this modern remake.

Renegade X is no modern military shooter, even if it features tanks and rifles. The mechanics in play here are much older and more primal than what the last eight years have put forward. There is no controllable cone of fire and no recoil for most weapons; guns will generally shoot where you point them, beyond a weapon-specific spray-pattern not dissimilar to Quake 3 Arena’s machinegun. Movement is fast with an option to sprint, while jumping and firing do not confer any visible penalties. Players get a large pool of health and armor and it takes considerable time to reduce an enemy to zero in an infantry fight with standard guns and loadouts.

The game can be played in both first and third person view and is freely switchable on the fly, which gives the gameplay a layer of depth in its use of perspective. Sometimes a player might want to use third person view to not be cornered as easily, and sometimes it is better to use first person view to land hits at long distances.

Like its predecessor, Renegade X is balanced around the same rock-paper-scissors mechanics of the RTS counterpart of in the main franchise. Certain units that the player can spawn as are more effective against others. A default soldier is generally ineffective against vehicles, while specialized units like rocket soldiers will do heavy damage to those units.

Because of the loadout options on offer, a player has a lot of control over what they want to bring and how to influence the battlefield, be it spawning as a crowd-control minigun soldier or a cloaked infiltrator; utility items on offer in Renegade X include such toys as nuclear strikes, carpet bombs, orbital ion cannon fire deployable by use of binoculars, mines, remote explosives and quickly throwable timed C4 charges.

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Worth a mention at this point is how good the game plays and looks in its modern iteration. With most settings maxed, my 560Ti did not budge from its 60FPS target, even under heavy fire in a 64 player match. Given that the game was made by enthusiasts without any budget to speak off, this result is certainly impressive.

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The maps and environments of Renegade X are varied and well designed with different paths leading to objectives, able to be tackled with different tactics and enough space for both vehicular and infantry combat. A lot of vertical design permeates the maps, with buildings being scalable by ladders, hidden cave entrances in mountain-ridges and other high vantage points.

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Renegade X harkens back to a simpler time of the FPS, where managing recoil and cone of fire was a distant thought. This game’s core is a frantic exchange of firepower as is expected considering the C&C franchise’s pedigree.

Of course, like all games, this one is not without flaws. There are quite a few annoyances that can hamper the enjoyment of blowing tanks up with space lasers, one of which is a hard-lock on the players ADS or scope when they finish sprinting, requiring another button-press to shake the gun out of its slumber. Other glitches and bugs are performance related, possibly related to the Steam overlay in UDK and alt-tab use during gameplay. At one point, my character was holding an invisible gun with his finger extended in a “bang” motion, firing lasers from its tip. Besides these technical issues, and some other gripes concerning unit balancing that could be related to the source material, I could not find a serious flaw in the game.

If this all sounds interesting, it gets better. Renegade X is free. Not free-to-play, freeperiod. No cash shops or any other nonsense to get in the way. Not even cosmetics for sales.

I know, crazy.

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It always ends with a bang.

The game is distributed via torrent downloads at the developer website.

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