If you’re a child of the 80s, chances are you’re familiar with G.I. Joe.
Perhaps you had G.I. Joe action figures, or maybe you watched the cartoon on TV. The franchise was huge, and it’s still fairly popular today. Which is probably why developers IguanaBee and Fair Play Labs have decided to unleash G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout on the world.
The marketing blurb for G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout describes it as “a classic team-based third-person shooter where you play as your favourite characters from Team G.I. Joe and Team Cobra.” I guess it’s somewhat true, but perhaps also a little misleading. You see, what it fails to mention is that it doesn’t have online multiplayer, so the only hope you have of playing it with other people (up to three) is actually getting them together on the couch with you. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s not ideal.
If you do manage to get some friends together for a multiplayer session, you’ll find that there are four adversarial modes in which to compete for glory: Deathmatch, Assault, Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill. There’s a decent-ish selection of maps, too, and 12 playable characters from both Team G.I. Joe and Team Cobra. Ultimately, you can have some fun with it, if you’re able to ignore the awkward aiming.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout‘s woeful aiming is perhaps the thing that drags it down the most, whether you’re playing in multiplayer, or tacking the game’s story campaign, which can also be played in co-op. Even after tinkering with the sensitivity settings, it just never feels quite right. Thank God it has a snap-to enemy feature when you aim down the sights, although even then you’ll still find the actual act of combat painful at times.
Enemy A.I. is a pain in the backside, basically. A third-person shooter G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout may be, but it’s no Gears of War. Its enemies are basically braindead; perhaps that’s the “classic” part of the game’s description. They don’t use cover, they either just move around erratically, or fearlessly charge at you. The result is that G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout feels like a third-person run ‘n’ gun shooter, but with all of the fun sucked out of it.
Mission design is also uninspiring. It may be a story campaign, but each mission feels like a glorified horde map. It’s always go here, fight off multiple waves of enemies, go there, then fight off more while a hack is completed. The only thing that breathes life into them is the occasional boss fight, which mixes things up a little. Well, unless they just charge at you with all-guns-blazing like generic enemies do. It’s the case more often than not.
The best thing about G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout? That’s got to be the few missions where you get to take control of a tank and just shoot stuff – the aiming isn’t anywhere half as bad in these as it is elsewhere. There are some other good things as well – it successfully captures the spirit of the franchise for one, and… well, I guess it has a budget price?
The basic version of G.I. Joe Operation Blackout is priced at £34.99/$39.99, which is still too much for what you’re getting in my opinion – its story campaign can be completed in just a handful of hours, after all. There’s also a Digital Deluxe version for £44.99/$49.99 which includes a digital art book and soundtrack, as well additional character and weapon skins. If you’re a massive G.I. Joe fan who’s dead-set on buying the game, it might be worth splashing out the extra for these niceties.
Ultimately, G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout is a team-based third-person shooter with poor aiming, atrocious enemy A.I., and no online multiplayer options. That should tell you all you need to know, basically. It’s not the worst game you can buy right now, so if you’re a huge G.I. Joe fan and pick it up on a whim you might have some fun with it. Anyone with more self-control, however, should either wait for it to be deeply discounted, or simply forget it exists. You won’t be missing out on anything worthwhile if you never play it.