Coldstrike

“Hooray!” roared the people of Planet Earth in chorus. “Hooray for the Renegades!” The world was saved and a paean was sung to those intrepid warriors. Inferno, shackled by all his hubris, had failed to tip Planet Earth over the precipice and into the inky void of nuclear obliteration. The people of Planet Earth could sleep easy once more, safe in the knowledge that neither The Renegades nor Inferno were primed to pilot a tank wantonly through the new conservatory and out through the just-decorated baby room.

But oh how those very same people groaned as the inaugural day of peace gave rise to a new madman; some other villain from the conveyer belt of lunacy. One who went by the name of Coldstrike. Here once again, humanity finds itself staring wide-eyed and vacant into the gaping abyss. If only there were a wild and untamed band of valiant knights ready and willing to save the world.

Cue theme tune.

Coldstrike represents more of the same; more pyrrhic victories, more destruction, more twin-stick shooting pandemonium, more feebleminded no-goods to murder without an inkling of remorse and, most importantly, more fun because that’s what Renegade Ops was most of all. Avalanche struck a chord with its merry concoction of blistering paced driving interspersed with classic twin-stick shooting with very little left to the clawing hands of tedium. Coldstrike picks up on exactly the same note.

So it’s back to rocketing around Just Cause 2-esque levels (this time featuring snow), duking it out with tanks and helicopters and some new mega-sized snowy woe-bringer called the Golem. Coldstrike’s goons arrive doggedly by the wagonload – practically wiling you to make them go kaboom by parking up tidily in front of you – and the trick remains to furiously circle them, firing all the while. Like a dog venturing to catch that thing attached to its rump, the chumps turn and turn and turn and turn but rarely manage to get a fix on you. Sounds boring, but it’s not. Avalanche nailed driving and shooting and performing the two in tandem remains resplendent.

It’s as cathartic as ever to hold down both sticks and watch as the world crumbles as though it were made entirely from breadsticks, and Coldstrike’s trio of missions are as breathless as any found in Renegade Ops proper. While it suffers from languor by the end – simply because it’s precisely more of the same – the smooth driving and immediacy of all the destruction remains its greatest asset.

Its second greatest asset, however, is regrettably absent. Without Inferno (Coldstrike isn’t nearly as hammy or desperate to take centre stage), it lacks the character and drive of the core campaign. Inferno was the carrot dangling at the end of every dirt road and winding canyon, the loveable rogue gifting Renegade Ops the beating heart of a Saturday morning cartoon. Coldstrike shows face throughout the three levels but there’s little of the tawdry back and forth that made Inferno such a backhanded charmer. Coldstrike’s a bit of a bore, really.

Avalanche’s ultimate downfall though, is that there’s more than enough content in the main game to prevent Coldstrike from reaching essential status. Still, if you’re pining for a little more Renegade Ops then this will certainly satisfy.

7/10

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