G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout Review (PS4)
Updated: May 2
Developed: Iguana Bee and Fair Play Labs
Published: GameMill Enteratinment
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Release Date: Oct 13th, 2020
*Game provided for this review by publisher
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout is a third person shooter that is developed by Iguana Bee and Fair Play Labs, and is published by GameMill Entertainment. Hold on, wait a second. That name sounds familiar, didn't we just play something they recently had their hands in publishing? Man these guys are everywhere!. Ahem, lets back to what I was saying. G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is the latest attempt to make this franchise relevant once more in the actual console market, a market that it really hasn't dipped into too much since 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra. Wait a minute.. The Rise Of Cobra, yup, now it's obvious why they didn't continue after that, please do not google it. I beg you.
With the franchise having really been out of the console market for the last decade and having been more focused on IOS and Android platforms with strategy based games like War On Cobra, GameMill and the fine people at Iguana Bee and Fair Play Labs attempt to break the mold and set the precedent for more G.I. Joe games on home consoles going forward. But is this accomplished here with this game or is it another game to be left forgotten in the pits of hell with Rise Of Cob... ahh you almost got me, I almost said it again. But we'll never KNOW for sure any of these questions unless I stop rambling and knowing IS half the battle after all, so without further delay, YO JOE!
The never ending battle between the G.I. Joes and Cobra rages on, but this time with way higher stakes. As Duke is busy training the next batch of Joe's to get them ready to take the fight to Cobra, disaster suddenly strikes as a legion of Cobra planes, along with Cobra troops, attempt to take over the U.S.S. Flagg by force in order to achieve their sinister plot. The invasion by Cobra is quick and fierce and very one sided due to the shock and awe of the sudden onslaught, and the fight ends with the Joe's being completely defeated.
Now with the U.S.S. Flagg in total cobra command, the evil of their plan is finally able to come to fruition. With the total take over of Flagg, Cobra now controls all the worlds satellites and electronic feeds, which leaves not only the Joe's, but also the entire world at the mercy of Cobra. With places like San Francisco and Washington being completely taken over, it's only a matter of time before world domination is no longer a matter of IF, but an inevitability. It is now up to the remaining resistance of Joe's to make one last attempt to fight back and save the world from Cobra tyranny.
G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is a team based third person shooter that takes inspiration from basically every other third person shooting game on the market -- nothing here in this game is necessarily new or even ground breaking, however, it does have its own personality and its own way of showing that it does indeed have its own unique identity that may set it apart from other cookie cutter third person shooters. And that unique identity comes in the way of the tried and true go to, best friend next door, good ol nostaglia. And boy does this game have mountains of it, especially for fans of the 80s cartoon series. Now I was never big into G.I. Joe growing up, so don't chew my head off, I was more into Beast Wars and the sometimes cringe fest Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but we can get into that some other time.
In Operation Black out when starting up your game you are greeted to a choice of Campaign, Team Battle, and Knowing Is Half The Battle for modes that are selectable from the main menu screen. Now for a quick disclaimer, I will not be able to cover the Team Battle section of the game, why you ask? well that is because even though this is a team based game, there is no online multiplayer to be able to play with others. Yes you heard that right, this game is strictly local co op only, for both the main campaign and multiplayer mode, meaning if you have no friends, like me! or have been impacted by the on going pandemic and can't be around people at this time, then this mode is... kind of useless, sorry to say. But I will try to give a little bit of an idea of what this mode pertains to since the main campaign utilizes its game play modes in its story.
In the roughly 8 hour campaign mode of the story, you play through a total of 17 missions that puts you in the shoes of both Team Joe and Team Cobra. This allows you to experience the events from both factions point of view and see how events unfold through the eyes of characters like Duke or Cobra Commander. At the start of every mission you're given a choice to pick your difficulty level, difficulty levels that range from Action Figure, which is the games easy mode, Government Issue, the games medium mode, Man Of Action, the games hard mode, and Real American Hero, the games expert mode, which will kick your ass left and right. If you're just starting out, I'd suggest going with medium as your default difficulty so that you may ease into it a lot better without inducing a headache on yourself.
Once activating your first mission, you're thrown into a tutorial level that takes place on the U.S.S. Flagg where you take on the role of Duke as he and the fellow members of Team Joe are busy training a brand new round of recruitments to join in the fight to take on Cobra. In this tutorial you learn all the basics, such as left stick to move your character, right stick to move cursor aim, L2 to aim, R2 to shoot. It's all very basic, even down to L1 throwing your grenades and R1 using the same re-load mechanics as games like Gears Of War, which has you time your quick reloads by pressing X when the movement mark reaches a green area on your bar, but.. its kind of useless since getting timing right doesn't give you any sort of reward or anything.
At the start of each mission, you're given a choice to pick between members of each faction, this means you will either get to pick between members of Team Joe or members of Team Cobra at the start of a mission, but this all depends on if its a cobra related mission only or a team joe related mission. For instance in the mission called capture the flagg, you're able to choose between two cobra characters such as Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow and in other missions you're able to pick between members of Team Joe,such as Roadblock and Lady Faye. As you move forward through each mission, you will unlock a variety of other characters as well, up to 12 unique characters are able to be used and unlocked and each individual character not only has their own set of stats, but their own unique abilities as well.
Now that you have the basic idea of what is going down, you're able to get into the actual campaign mode and show team joe or team cobra whos boss around these parts. I stated earlier I was not able to go in depth about the team battle mode due to the fact that I'm a loner and have zero friends to play with, and yes that is true...no I'm not crying, you're crying!...ahem... excuse me, as I was saying. Even though I can't go in depth, I can still give you a bit of an idea of what you could expect in that mode due to the campaign mode actually utilizing all the team battle elements inside its own story. In Team Battle mode, you have modes such as Assault, which acts like an attack and defend mode in which you must take control of an enemy command post, then defend it to rack up points. This element is used in the very first mission as you, member of Cobra, have to take over the U.S.S. Flagg to gain control of it. In this mission you are required to run through the ship and take down all enemies that get in the way of your world domination as you learn new ways to move about, such as using circle to dodge roll away from enemy gun fire. But this can only be used once every two seconds and can not be used constantly, so no spamming it like you're being a freak playing Ocarina Of Time.
Besides the basic movements learned during this first mission, you also learn about Ultimate abilities that each individual character can use once their meter fills up. For instance a character like Cobra Commander will unleash large pocket of poison that infects everyone who happens to step into it and characters like Duke on Team Joe gain the ability to throw a pulse grenade that pulsates and shoots out waves for a limited amount of time. With a total of 12 characters that are usable throughout the game, you will be able to see the variety of move sets and abilities this game has to offer you, but once again, its still a complete shame with the lack of online, as I feel this could be a very competitive game, if it was given the chance to prove itself. Each character in the game has varied stats that range from Fire Power,Fire Rate,Speed,Shield, no characters stats are the same as the other. For example a character like Cobra Commander is a more balanced character with all his stats having 3 out of 5 bars leveled out, whereas characters like Storm Shadow has a high speed and firing rate, but very low rate on shield and fire power. This holds true for every character, regardless if you are Team Joe or Team Cobra, pick and choose which you like better and stick to it!
Everything in the 8 hour campaign covers all the game modes that you would encounter should you play Team Battle mode, so even if you can't play it with friends, you'll at least gets somewhat of the same experience, so, at least that's SOMETHING.
After you've completed the main campaign mode, the fun doesn't stop there as you still have a few things left to do, which involves unlocking collectibles in the Comics section or video section. In total there is around 29 different comics to collect and they're all hidden in the main games campaign mode and spread around each one of the 17 stages. Do NOT just rush through the campaign, take your time and find them all because they're actually really cool, especially for long time fans and REAL American Heroes. When it comes to videos, you have to work a little harder for those because in order to unlock them all, you must first complete every mission in the game, as well as find all collectibles. Doing both these tasks will give you at least several more hours of enjoyment before you run out of things to do.
When its all said and done, G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is both a success, as well as an underachiever. What it gets right in its endeavor is catering to the crowd of nostalgia and staying true to what actually makes the G.I. Joe franchise not only fun, but keeping it completely authentic to what fans of the franchise have grown to love over the many years. Sure the game play might be rather basic and a little bit repetitive with its typical third person shooter style, but if you couple in the fact, its amazing voice acting thats just as cheesy and corny as you remembered from the 80s, its great use of cell shading for its graphics, that fits the comic theme of the series and the decent character selection, its easy to see how this game could please people.
But on the flip side, you have a game that hinders itself with the lack of online mode, in a team based game. TEAM BASED GAME. You rarely hear of this nowadays and this is why my verdict has me extremely conflicted on which way to go. On one hand you have a game that at its core isn't that bad and does have some good things to offer players, but at the same time for people that do not have access to friends for local co op, I can not in good conscience say its ok to pay $40 for it. So this is going to be my first ever DOUBLE VERDICT. There's no other way around it. To be as far as possible I feel it has to be done this way out of respect for the players themselves and the devs too.
If you have friends or family to play this with locally, then you have access to 8 hours of campaign mode and collectibles, as well as a team battle mode which houses 4-5 different game play modes with dozens of characters to choose from. This in itself would make me say BUY NOW as my verdict as I feel $40 is actually a good price for what this game has to offer new or older fans.
However if you are like me and do not have access to friends and are relegated to just the campaign mode, then I can not recommend this title at its full $40 price tag. As Rick from Pawn Stars would say, ''Look. Best I can give you is $20''. And just like Rick, thats the only price I could justify in this scenario as well.
So whatever your situation is, the game does have at least something to offer you. So check it out when you have the chance!
For people with friends
For people without friends
G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is out now on PS4/XB1/NSW/Windows