Insurgency Sandstorm – Review

Name: Insurgency Sandstorm
Developer: 
New World Interactive
Publisher: 
Focus Home Interactive
Released: 
12.12.2018 (PC) 2019 (Consoles)
Platforms: PC (consoles 2019)
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose

Insurgency Sandstorm is best enjoyed with friends, as this is a hardcore tactical first-person shooter experience. Sandstorm is the sequel to the 2014 hit with the Valve Source engine, can the Unreal Engine 4 improve the graphics and performance?

Graphics

One of the main differences with Insurgency Sandstorm is the change of the graphical engine. The 2014 Insurgency hit title had its flaws when it came to the graphics as it was a bit restricted by the Valve Source engine. But now with Sandstorm, New World Interactive have created the sequel with the Unreal Engine 4. The answer to the question if the graphics have been greatly improved is yes, but compared to today’s standard and competition I would say Sandstorm might be a bit mediocre, why? Let explain.

The overall look fits the scenario, lighting & textures provides a “dusty” look to the environment, and that’s perfect, as the scenario is in the desert. But when it comes to the details, everything isn’t that great, especially when it comes to character models and animations. To put it this way, the character models look a bit “stiff” & empty inside, (There is no soul!) and the few added animations looks roughly made and not on point at all, the only animations that I would say were okay was the reloading animations. This might be a bit rash, but if I would have guessed what era this title had been released by looking at the character models and animation, I would’ve guessed a release around the end of the PlayStation 2/beginning of the PlayStation 3 era.

But then again, it shows that graphics aren’t a big event in this title, because the sound designs are brilliant. Before I say any more, the weapon models, however, are great as well with tons of different greatly created attachments, weapons etc.

The ambient audio and realistic voice-chat in-game are incredible, every gunshot, explosions, footsteps and so provides intel for you and your teammates to pinpoint enemy locations. The HDR audio effect works perfectly and I must say this is one of the big highlights of Insurgency Sandstorm. And by using the in-game voice-chat, a minor feature that the voice-chat sounds like a walkie-talkie provided me with funny and tactical situations.
6/10

Gameplay

Insurgency Sandstorm is intended to play with friends, (or with random people online who can co-operate. Rarely happens) but you can play solo with AI as well. The whole experience relies on that you play online with other people, there isn’t any linear campaign mode you can experience, only a co-op mode with AI or friends instead. There are four different modes you can experience, Checkpoint, Push, Firefight, and Skirmish.

‘Checkpoint’ is the co-op mode you can play solo or with other players, against the AI (computer), or PvE (Player vs Environment) as some might call it. You and your team have to capture and destroy objectives to advance through the map. But be aware of one thing, as something I experienced real fast. This is a hardcore tactical shooter, the enemy is challenging and sometimes brutal, and they come in waves to counter-attack each time you capture or destroy an objective.

‘Push’ works like the familiar rush mode in Battlefield. An attacking team has to push forward to destroy the defending teams’ weapons cache. If you like fast and intense modes, this mode might suit you best. (PvP – Player vs Player)

Firefight’ is a bit more competitive gameplay than the other modes. Players start with restricted loadouts, no fire support in close combat. The goal is to take all three objectives or kill all the enemies to win. The option to play 5v5 is also there if you’d like a more challenging and competitive experience.

‘Skirmish’ is the mode I enjoyed the most when I played with friends and with random people who co-operated with the use of the in-game chat. This mode plays on a large-scale map, similar to Battlefield, but your team has to capture and hold three objectives as well as destroying the enemies weapons cache. By capturing objectives, our team got more respawn waves, because if you do, you have to wait until the next respawn wave.

Insurgency Sandstorm aims for the hardcore tactical approach, and I must say they’ve achieved this. Your HUD is limited, no kill feed, no hit markers or crosshairs, every info you need, you must provide by using your attachments and what you can see and hear. The only thing I do miss in regards to no hit markers is a visual effect, for instance, on impact blood spatter, if you miss dust appears, just to indicate some sort of bullet impact.

In my first impression, I encountered a few frame drops and performance issues if I used Ultra settings. There are some improvements regarding this matter, it’s not perfect, but hey, that’s picking on the minor details. It’s nothing that a common gamer would notice at first glance, nor did it impact the gameplay experience. But one thing is for sure, the overall experience is way much better playing with friends.
8/10

Controls

The default control schematics isn’t something you’re going to struggle with at all, if you do so the keybindings are easily changeable. Even though I experienced a few frame drops and other minor performance issues, this didn’t affect the controls or response time. Everything worked smoothly, I simply can’t find anything to complain about in regards to the controls.
10/10

Replay Value

There isn’t a progression system in Insurgency Sandstorm, once you launch the game, you own every weapon and attachments available at once. You do, however, level up in both player rank and “Ranked level”. So as for the replay-value, it’s depending on the value of competitive gameplay and if you’d like a bit more challenging first-person shooter experience.
7/10

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You can check out our review policy right here, if you wonder how we set our scores.

  • Graphics 6
    6/10
  • Gameplay 8
    8/10
  • Controls 10
    10/10
  • Replay Value 7
    7/10

Verdict

Insurgency Sandstorm is a great addition to the tactical first-person shooter family. The incredible ambient sound design provides great strategic and tactical gameplay experience, but the overall graphics might lower some peoples visual experience.

Overall
7.75/10
7.75/10
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Pros

  • Incredible ambient sound design
  • Online PvE
  • Great tactical first-person shooter experience

Cons

  • Low replay value for the “common gamers”
  • Character models & Animations

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