A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Insurgency is a downloadable online action game and combines elements of a first-person shooter with strategy. The game's key element is player-vs.-player team battles in a variety of Middle Eastern locations. There are two main modes of play, cooperative and multiplayer. This is a fast-paced game where players can select from a variety of weapons (sniper rifles, machine guns, explosives), and each player has a role depending on the outfitting. While there's some blood, and the focus is combat, it isn't overly gory or visual with violence. Players frequently fall down and wait to respawn when eliminated in battle.
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What's it about?
INSURGENCY is a team-based tactical first-person shooter that takes place on 16 maps encompassing the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. The game features more than 40 weapons, with each weapon defining a role within a battle setting. Multiplayer is player-vs.-player arena fighting (which can feature up to 32 players with multiple game scenarios) on small contained maps, while five cooperative player modes pit groups of players against bots driven by the game's artificial intelligence. The game also allows players to create and share their own maps. While there are missions, the game is -- at its core -- a battle to eliminate the other team. Players can create their own scenarios and set parameters for the game or quickly join through the lobby.
Is it any good?
Though this is quick-paced fun that's entertaining, Insurgency has a been-there, done-that feel to the gameplay. The graphics are well done and supported nicely by the sound quality. The action is quickly paced, and players can pop into a fight and be done within 10 to 15 minutes -- if that long -- which is also a bonus. The game can use bots (essentially computer-controlled characters), and while the AI isn't bad, it can't compare to the randomness and quirky (not to mention unpredictable) behavior of real players. The game features several facets of multiplayer gaming ranging from battles with reinforcements to one-life-one-kill matches, objective-based firefights, or death-match-style rounds. And while the only solo game element is the tutorial, there's plenty of space for co-op or competitive play. There are nine multiplayer modes: Push (take objectives in order), Firefight (take all three territorial objectives in any order), Skirmish (get objectives and protect your supply cache), Occupy (like king of the hill), Ambush (take out a high-value target), Strike (destroy weapon caches), Infiltrate (capture the flag), Flashpoint (control the entire map board), and Elimination (you only have one life with no chance of respawning).
The downside is that the game really doesn't offer anything new to the multiplayer shooter genre. The settings are smaller, which means popping into the action quicker, but lag can be a major deterrent, and a target you think you've nailed can get off without a nick. The various modes, while a nice array, aren't new either. But that's not to say this game isn't well done. Insurgency is a nice little indie title, but if you're looking for something fresh and exciting within the genre, you might want to look elsewhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Would this game be as fun if it didn't have the same focus on violence or firearms? Would it be more accessible or OK if the weapons weren't realistic?
Talk about the importance of teamwork. How does a team work together and rely on one another to get a job done? Are there lessons in this game that can be applied to real life?
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