There’s a resurgence of games based on 80’s toys going on at the moment. In the past few weeks we’ve had Zoids, Transformers, and now GI Joe has joined the party in Operation Blackout. The game finds Cobra attacking the Joe’s across the globe, leaving the world under the jack boot of Cobra Commander and our heroes either locked up or scattered across the planet. The few remaining Joe’s must team up, save their pals, and stop Cobra from unleashing the Free Will Nullifier, a large bell made from the core of a meteorite which has been melted down and moulded using ancient tablets.
The game is a third person shooter with split screen local co-op built in, each mission giving you a choice of a couple of characters who each come with their own weapons and special moves. GI Joe was one of the first toy lines to make the ladies as bad ass as the men so you get a nice mix of characters and, like the old Transformers War for Cybertron game, you get to play both sides of the story, controlling either the Joes or Cobra.
Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, Destro, Baroness, Snake Eyes, Duke, Scarlett, Lady Jaye are all playable, as are some of the more minor characters such as Mainframe. Sadly my favourite, Snow Job, is locked up and you can’t play him and giggle at his name.
The best thing about the game is the story which is told through voice acting that is delightfully over the top, and animated comic style panels between missions. It’s proper Saturday morning kids cartoon fun with ridiculous missions that make no sense (Cobra already rule the world, why do they need a Free Will Nullifier?) and plenty of double crosses and surprises. While you’re running about other characters keep in touch via comms to progress the story and there’s some nice banter, although Snake Eyes remains stoically silent which leads to some amusing situations where team mates just assume he said something.
Sadly the actual game is rather lacking. It’s a cover shooter, with plenty of barriers and things to hide behind, but no actual cover mechanic so you just have to run about and hide. Not that you need to do that much as the enemy AI is very basic, they either run straight at you or just jiggle around in a small area moving from side to side making them annoyingly hard to hit, especially with grenades.
The weapons you get to wield are equally hit and miss, some are quite effective, others barely dent the enemies and take ages to reload. Thankfully you can find other weapons in each level and swap them out. Special moves fall into the same category; some of them are very useful and launch drones which take down enemies for you, others barely seem to have any effect whatsoever.
Each character also has a melee move but they lack weight, and it’s difficult to tell when you have hit the enemy. It’s also disappointing that ninjas Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are lumbered with using guns rather than running about and hacking and slashing.
Boss battles are peppered throughout the game and are really quite tiresome as the bosses take a huge number of hits before they go down. Just like the grunts they either run straight at you and circle around, or do the exact opposite and continue to run away from you as you chase them. There are also a couple of driving sections in which you career down paths avoiding mines and rocket towers while taking out other tanks and flying enemies. It’s fun the first time but gets repeated twice more, as do many of the locations in the game.
As usual you can find bonus items to unlock including comics and skins and there’s also a stab at multiplayer. Unfortunately it’s local only but supports up to four players via split screen and has death match and capture the flag modes. It’s a nice addition but without online play it’s severely limited.