Originally a Half-Life 2 mod, Insurgency became a stand-alone product in early 2014, allowing players to experience the highly tactical multiplayer team orientated gameplay that made the mod famous back in 2007. Being a huge fan of the original Day of Defeat and the official remake, Day of Defeat: Source released in 2005, I jumped at the opportunity to take a look at the free Steam Workshop mod for Insurgency, taking players back to the most infamous battles of World War II.
As it was all the rage for first-person shooters in the past few years, Insurgency was set in the modern day, which has arguably grown stale. New World Interactive has released a free total conversion mod for the game called Day of Infamy with the hope that the cult-like following will expand upon the developed framework by creating new maps, weapons, and more.
There is no doubt a steep learning curve for anyone who never played Insurgency or any other so-called realistic style shooters, such as ARMA and Red Orchestra 2. Currently, the game only features the American and German armies, along with three maps, two of which were made by the developers and the third made by the community. I spent the majority of my time with Day of Infamy playing in the two maps created by New World Interactive. The first, Bastogne, is known for the Battle of the Bulge campaign in the Ardennes Forest and features both a day and night variation. The second, Dog Red Sector, features Omaha Beach, as Americans advance up the beach and into German trenches.
While I have had no problem finding active multiplayer servers to join, only a handful had close to the 32 player max player limit during the day, while more of the two dozens listed servers are populated during peak evening hours. If you happen to run into any complications joining a server with only players, you can play against bots cooperatively with friends or by yourself. Either option is a fun way to mess around in the maps, especially if you are unfamiliar with the map composition.
Before spawning, players must choose their dedicated role across three squads. Other players in your squad will have a green indicator while other players will appear blue. Just like in Insurgency, the different classes are limited by their weapons and equipment that can be used. The majority of players will be slinging semi-automatic rifles across their backs or machine guns, such as the Thompson and the MP-40. Those looking for a class with a bit more firepower will have to click quickly, as those classes are severely limited. Weapon customization is not as robust as in the base game, but you are given a couple of different options, depending on your role and play style. Bayonets can be attached to rifles for up close engagements, and slings can be equipped to give you quicker weapon switching.
Although there are a handful of different game modes to play across all the three maps (four if you count Bastogne twice), I found Invasion and Firefight to be the most enjoyable. In Invasion, both attackers and defenders have a set number of reinforcement waves, as the attackers attempt to capture control points across the map until they reach the final objective. If you are killed (you will be killed), you must wait for the reinforcement timer to expire before you can spawn. Firefight tasks each side with capturing control points like in Invasion, but it is played in elimination style without respawns. In every server that I have joined, objectives were an afterthought and the intense fear of a single bullet that can put you down permanently led to plenty of amazing sequences.
There are other game modes, each with slight variations of each other, including Push, which seems to be quite popular. Essentially a variation on Invasion, Push feels a lot like Rush from the Battlefield series, as Attackers attempt to capture control points, but have a limited number of waves for reinforcement and an even shorter time limit to accomplish the feat. Each objective secured adds 5 minutes to the timer and five additional waves of reinforcement. I’ll admit, playing on the German side, sitting in the final bunker, I became paranoid about the inevitable onslaught as smoke bellowed from all of the entrances. In the end, I did not even see the shooter that put me down for good.
The strength of Day of Infamy comes from the aimed realism and a passionate community that aims to keep it that way. HUD elements are minimal, only showing objectives and not much else. There are no health or ammo counters and nothing to confirm if you have killed anyone. I’ve found myself attempting to shoot an empty gun on numerous occasions. Weapons can be recognized by their distinct noises, helping to keep the allure of realism in the game, even if the visuals are lacking. The bullet will ricochet off the nearby cover, giving a distinct ping-like noise that I swear was ripped straight from a World War II movie. View distance is a big concern, and I understand the limitations of a game released in 2014 (built with the aging Source engine), but running up the beaches of Normandy you will take plenty of gunfire from enemies that you physically can’t see. Blind fire into the fog and you may get lucky. When it happens it feels cheap, especially when playing modes where you only have a single life. There are some decent visual effects used however, such as bullet wounds and the screen becoming blurry when under suppression fire.
As a free total conversion mod available through Steam Workshop, Day of Infamy is a step in the right direction. Currently, there are three maps available, and only two of the many nations that fought during the war, but the road-map for the mod looks bright. There are plenty of “in-progress” additions in the pipeline from the community. Fewer people are playing the mod than the base game, but I have yet to find a time during the day that there weren’t active servers available to join. Even then, you can play against bots if needed.
Note: The Insurgency: Day of Infamy review is based on a digital PC copy of the game.