Operation Warcade takes me back to the days of going to an actual arcade to play the latest games. Through the magic of the PSVR, it puts you in front of a screen to blast away different enemies or you can enter the world of the game itself. The idea is absolutely brilliant and really appeals to my nostalgia. Unfortunately, the repeatedly poor execution keeps the game from ever reaching its true potential.
The game starts with you in an arcade in front of one of those shooting games that uses a gun for a controller. After picking up the gun, the screen fills your view, and there are six different areas. The locations vary from the jungle, the desert, a city, and even an aircraft carrier.
As you start the level, you will begin slowly scrolling to the left. The screen is filled with a couple different soldier types at first, but it quickly becomes far more complicated. There are jets, helicopters, and drones in the air. Later levels throw increase the number and aggression of your enemies, and you will need to be looking left, right, up, and down to dodge fire and give as good as you get.
The distinguishing feature of Operation Warcade is the immersion points. By shooting icons scattered throughout the level, you can enter the game world. It puts you in a jet, firing out the side of a helicopter, driving a truck, or shooting and throwing knives at enemies.
I wanted to like these sections more, but I was often fighting the controls. Even with practice, vehicles were mostly frustrating. The truck is the worst in this regard, and I generally hated driving it.
The other problem with these sections was the inconsistent aim. The most obvious example is throwing knives. Even if I aimed directly at someone, the knife would veer away from them. After I corrected my aim, it would bounce the other way. Your enemies continue to fire and run at you, and this can make failure seem unfair.
Each level has three objectives that will earn you a star. The objectives are usually based on killing a target number of soldiers, using a certain weapon or vehicle, or not dying. Earning stars is the only way to unlock other levels and locations, so you need to meet that specific goal.
What’s needed to earn a star is really the only distinguishing feature of a level. Each one is the same visual loop and plays mostly the same with only minor changes at best. This translates to six levels that are each repeated six times. It can become a real slog to battle through the same location for the thirtieth time just to reach the single point in that level in which you can gain a dearly-needed star to open a new level.
Gaining stars will also earn rewards that can be turned on and off. They range from ways to make your grenades more powerful, give you a better aim for your laser sight, and give you permanent double uzis. Most of these upgrades are genuinely useful and can help you to get that star you missed.
The controls are fairly simple. Typically, one hand holds a gun, and the other holds your grenades. You can use a DualShock 4 controller, the PS Move controllers, or the PS Aim controller. I don’t recommend the DualShock 4 controller. I found it to be confusing and unintuitive for the bow. The PS Move controllers were far more natural for point of aim and using the bow, and it was far less frustrating. For this reason, I didn’t bother using the PS AIM controller. It also seemed like some tasks were easier with one way or another, but no one controller would work well for everything.
Your orientation relative to the camera can also be a problem. The PS Camera recognizes you, and the game seems to orient itself to where you are. Since you have a lot of movement from left to right, the game will move the screen without you realizing it. Sometimes, my hands wouldn’t even be usable when I started a level. Sometimes, this moved me to a location inside the arcade where I could not pick a new level or see the screen. There is a teleportation function, but I had to close the game multiple times for it to reset.
The visuals work, but they aren’t great. When you are not in the game, you can see a crowd has gathered behind you to cheer you to victory. The clapping animation the models make doesn’t actually allow the hands to touch, and the blank faces are very creepy. You can hit or push them, and they make a very unnatural roll, before getting back up and continuing the act of almost clapping.
Inside the game, the visuals are bland at best. There was some pop in and some enemies in the distance are very difficult to see. There are barrels that can explode, glass windows to shoot out, and towers to topple for variety, but it doesn’t save an otherwise visually flat experience in VR. A little more variety in levels would have helped.
That’s not to say that everything is horrible. There is fun to be had in Operation Warcade. When it works, it’s a nice little shooting gallery that can keep you on your toes, but for too much of the time it’s overly repetitive and frustrating.
With both a physical and digital release, PSVR completionists and nostalgic gamers might buy this one when it drops in price for some quick and cheap fun. For everyone else, I don’t recommend joining the operation.
Operation Warcade PSVR Review
Operation Warcade tries to replicate the shooting games in so many arcades from my youth. It's a cool concept. When it works, it does a decent job. When it doesn’t, you are fighting the controls and inconsistent aim and playing through the same level becomes a grind for progress. Unfortunately, I experienced a little too much of the latter.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.