I’ve talked before about my love of all things 80’s. Transformers, the Noid, Apple commercials, Toxie, The Smurfs and of course the Real American Hero, G.I. Joe. GI Joe was chocked full of action, amazing characters and even had a GREAT movie! There’s been a few video games that have carried the GI Joe name and only one or two of them have been noteworthy. Does Operation Blackout find itself among those titles?
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout (PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One [Reviewed} )
Developer: Iguanabee, Fair Play Labs
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Released: October 13, 2020
Operation Blackout is a over the shoulder 3rd person shooter where you take control of some of your favorite Joes and Cobra characters. It starts explaining that the Joes have implemented some technology and instead of a bunch of soldiers running around, we have robots. After a quick tutorial you are given control of either Cobra Commander or Storm Shadow. Cobra is leading an all out assault on the U.S.S Flagg and we’re taking over. I picked Cobra Commander because who wouldn’t want to be him, and I wasn’t sure how the ninja controls would be. Mowing down the GI Joes Bots as well as getting in a fire fight with Duke himself, we finally over took the Flagg and the level was over.
The level design is pretty great, as you run through the Flagg or Cobra headquarters, you feel like you’re running through the comic book or cartoon. Hiss Tanks, Joe Ghost Strikers and MOBATS scattered around as you run through corridors and garages, seal the deal as well. The voice acting, while not tapping anyone from the original cartoon, stay true to the character design. While going through the levels, you will here repeated lines (I hear Lady Jaye say “I could use this” in my sleep). As you go through you play as more and more characters including: Lady Jaye, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Duke, Roadblock, Storm Shadow, Destro, Baroness, Cobra Commander, and Zartan. Once given the option to play as Snake Eyes came up I took it. Unfortunately, they regulated him down to guns as well, I would have loved running through the levels cutting robots down left and right. Each character does have a super as well, and Snake Eyes has probably one of the more devastating ones (smoke cloud somersault with grenades into a slash of his sword).
G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is absolutely beautiful, from the level design to the character design, expanding to the graphical cut scenes that feel ripped from the comics, I love it’s look. The trouble starts with the gameplay and controls. Most missions find you doing the same thing, albeit in new stunning locations. Find and destroy, find and hack, find and defend and so on. There are some vehicle levels scattered about, but the control issues plague those as well. The over the shoulder run and gun style isn’t bad, but when the aiming is overly touchy, or non existent in this case, it starts to sour the expierence. Multiple times I’m taking cover and a small piece of the level completely blocks my shot or even more infuriating the computer controlled partner steps directly in the way.
The control coupled with the lack of variety in the missions is what brings the game down. The game itself is a great love letter to the children of the 80s. Yet that love letter is signed with a doodle pen, leaving most people confused and irritated at what they’ve gone through. In terms of extras and collectibles, levels are filled with hidden skins and comic book covers. The weapons skins and character skins are worth the hunt, especially Snake Eyes.
Gameplay: 6.5/10 Frustratingly repetitive missions and no online multiplayer, but playing as some of my favorite characters was very fun.
Sound Design: 9.5/10 Laser blasts, music and voice overs are awesome.
Graphics: 10/10 Feels like you’re playing the cartoon, complete with comic book cut scenes.
Control: 6/10 Touchy inept aiming system.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout isn’t a terrible game, but its shortcomings over (storm) shadow the rest of the expierence, including digital art book and bios of the characters.