Before reviewing GI Joe Operation Blackout, I had to sleep on it. My first experience of the game was such a poor one that I wouldn’t dare tarnish the good name of the series without thinking about it.
Either you’re reading this review because you want an idea what the game is like as you’re looking for something new to play, or like me, grew up with the toys, TV shows and movie(s) and perhaps even the comic book.
As beloved as it may be for you, this is a review of the game, not the GI Joe brand (I loved it as a kid, too) and you may know from my track record, I tend to rate games highly in general as see more positives than negatives. What do I think? Oh, you’ve already skipped to the summary and score…
GI Joe Operation Blackout PS4 Review
Regardless of whether you know anything about GI Joe, TMNT, or Transformers, it doesn’t matter just yet. What you do need to know is this game is a third-person shooter with a solo or co-op campaign mode, and some capture the flag options for up to four players locally.
This is not a Fortnite clone, which probably wouldn’t have been a bad thing; instead, it’s a light-hearted story of good versus evil in the typical moralistic GI Joe storytelling. Nobody dies, there’s no blood, and you’re predominantly fighting bots – both figuratively and literally.
Each stage is mission-based where you have to clear the area, set up a defence network, and shoot planes or drones out of the sky. Just typing this sounds quite monotonous, and that’s because it is. You walk around and try to shoot something, do a mini-game (ish) then do the same, shooting down unknowns with no real incentive.
You can carry two weapons at a time that can be switched out on the d-pad, throw grenades, *attempt* to melee and also do a special which I’m still working out whether it’s beneficial or not.
Sick Of It
After a lengthy load, I jumped through the tutorial hoops to get a grasp on what to expect. The controls are pretty intuitive and work fine apart from two thinks: aiming/looking around and reloading.
Having opened up to PC gaming, I’m becoming acutely aware of how good a mouse is compared to a controller, and in this case, it couldn’t be more relevant. Aiming at an enemy is so sluggish that I had auto-aim set and lowered the difficulty level as I was getting hit before I could retaliate.
Unfortunately, what proved worse was the movement. GI Joe Operation Blackout seemed to have a blur/tracer effect setup by default, and every time I would move, the background would spin so unnaturally, that I was getting sick. In all my years as a gamer, there’s only been a handful of times I had this. After getting to the second mission, I switched it off through disorientation and also frustration at being unable to hit anything.
Going back into the settings (there obviously aren’t the same parameters as on a PC), I hadn’t noticed any filters but found one option that allowed me to slow down the movement. The controls were unchanged, but the blurriness dropped, and I was able to ‘enjoy’ the game.
Come See The Sights
Despite the pretty decent visuals, I was back in the familiar territory of being unable to shoot anything properly. I literally would stand still face the direction of the attacked, zoom in, then hope auto-aim assistance would help. It did, as long as the other party stays still.
As you can expect, shooting all these nameless drones soon introduces a hero or villain to the mix that you and either your co-op buddy or AI will go up against. These bosses aren’t necessarily difficult, but they swerve all over the place (as you would if being shot at), so targetting them is nigh on possible. Add the fact that lesser enemies will continue to spawn, you soon get overpowered and if you’re relying on the AI, don’t, I caught mine checking their phone.
You can invite up to four players for a capture the flag event, but the lack of numbers makes this feature quite redundant. The co-op mode will inject a bit of energy into the campaign, as long as you don’t get another whinger complaining about the awful aiming and motion effects.
No matter your allegiance, you’ll play as both GI Joe and Cobra in GI Joe Blackout. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but the baddies usually have the best characters – you need some adversity that offers a high risk. That said, I almost always play the good guys, or do the right thing in games – think Fable or Mass Effect as an example.
With GI Joe Operation Blackout, it’s Cobra all the way.
If you aren’t familiar with the characters, there are loads of goodies to unlock such as comic book panels and bios of the line-up. In summary, Cobra have the better team, alas, they don’t have the original voiceover for Cobra Commander for apparent reasons; Christopher Collins passed back in 1994. He also played Starscream in Transformers and many many more in the 80s. I digress…
So, the key factor for a shooter would be the ability to shoot things, and in this case, I couldn’t. While I’m not a competitive gamer or pro, I’m good enough – this isn’t just my ability, but even if you remove that, GI Joe Operation Blackout, from Game Mill Entertainment, is just so bland.
It seems like a lot of opportunities exist for us older gamers with toy brands. It happened with films; TMNT, Transformers, maybe the GI Joe movies with Channing Tatum… Now we have old material being revisited, but it’s not up to par. Only recently, the Powers Rangers Battle of The Grid introduced a new season. While the gameplay is excellent, the storytelling and paywall ruined it. It’s the other way with GI Joe Operation Blackout: there are not 100+ hours here for middle-aged men with kids to have to worry about – this is classic arcade gaming, but it lacks the gameplay.
The visuals are great, the voice acting was good too (I wasn’t a fan of the rushed cutscenes that bordered on animatics, but we won’t keep rubbishing it – there’s a lot of good tucked away). The unlockable section will appeal to fans such as myself, but to unlock these, you have to play the game, and it just isn’t very good, in my opinion.