Sadly it has little if anything to do with Darude's evergreen trance hit of the same name, but Insurgency Sandstorm nonetheless excites with its dedication to convincing, immersive, and hardcore multiplayer shooter gameplay. Sandstorm brings in a host of meaningful changes and improvements to the franchise, so let's examine them.
This one's a biggie. Insurgency has long been a Source Engine franchise, beginning as a mod for Half-Life 2 that garnered huge popularity for its realism. The standalone release expanded in scope and ambition, but still relied in the Source Engine's foundations. Here though, the Insurgency franchise spreads its wings and makes use of Unreal Engine's visual fidelity, optimisation, and ease of development.
The most noticeable impact of that comes in the way Insurgency Sandstorm looks. Advanced lighting effects, realistic billowing smoke and dust, stunning flame effects and large, hugely detailed environments are the calling card of this latest iteration, but there are gameplay-centric additions thanks to Unreal Engine too, like vehicles. Trucks with MG turrets hare about in PvP multiplayer maps, tasking the demolitions class with a moving target, while light vehicles are used to mobilise troops in co-op.
About that: vehicles make you rethink your tactics in Insurgency Sandstorm. The MGs they mobilise are among the most powerful weapons available, and if a duo of driver and gunner are able to position themselves at a control point they can really turn the tide of a round. That's where demolitions experts with RPGs and Commanders able to call.in artillery strikes come in handy, however.
The vast majority of engagements is still infantry-based here so existing Insurgency players will slip into the action, but vehicles definitely expand the strategic consideration in any multiplayer match.
Insurgency's sound design has always been instrumental in conveying the chaos and terror of modern military combat, but Sandstorm really steps up its game. Players and AI fighters have a wide range of dialogue options, both player-prompted and and triggered by contextual actions, and the effect of this is a battlefield full of human beings, not computer game characters. Hugely impressive voice acting imbues everyone with a real character, and crucially nobody sounds like this is all great fun. They're in a warzone, after all: who wouldn't sound panicked when they announce they need to reload?
The reverberations of bullets, explosives, and artillery convey the space of the environments they occur in, ans combine with that dialogue to create a totally immersive sound space.
Across towns, deserts, fields and farmland, Insurgency Sandstorm's six multiplayer maps feature both interior and exterior spaces bristling with detail. Each checkpoint and objective can be approached from several different routes, leading to complex tactical arrangements for both offensive and defensive forces.