As a kid, I loved G.I. Joe, and I watched it a lot. Decades later, I still tell people that knowing is half the battle. After reaching the end of G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout, was my verdict more “Yoooooo, Joe!” or “Oh, no!”?
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout allows you to fight as the real American heroes or the evil forces of Cobra in seventeen story missions. The writers were able to capture the Saturday morning cartoon show’s essence. It’s not too deep, big on action, and the good guys win at the end. What more do you need?
I enjoyed playing both sides in the game, and you can usually pick from at least two characters for each mission. The characters are decent too. For the Joes, you can play characters such as Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, Lady Jaye, and Snake Eyes. Cobra puts you into the boots of Destro, The Baroness, Zartan, Storm Shadow, and Cobra Commander. Other characters have cameos, but the playable character roster is great.
Although there are different costumes and weapon skins, selecting your character is more than just looks. Each of them has a unique primary weapon and a secondary weapon that can be switched at marker areas in the environment. Beyond the unique gun, each character has an ultimate move that can be used after filling a meter and a unique evade move. Some give you a boost of speed or throw down a shield. All characters also have stats such as rechargeable shield strength, a weapon firepower rating, speed, and rate of fire. At the extremes, these are differences you will feel in-game.
The missions are where the game starts to break down. After a cutscene, your two-person team will fight your way through a level. Some missions make you play through the same level twice, going in reverse through the same area only as the other side.
The enemies are fine, but there’s no real variety. They are all robot soldiers with little eyeball mechs and hovering flyers rounding out the mix. You won’t see much new after the beginning, just more of them.
Combat is bland and repetitive, and I grew to hate my AI-controlled teammate. During some missions, they helped kill or at least distracted the enemy. Most of the time, they ran around the level not firing a shot and getting in the way of my bullets. One character has a grenade launcher that they repeatedly blocked, causing splash damage to me.
The third-person shooting is inoffensive but generic. The robotic enemies are varying degrees of bullet sponginess, and you’ll mow through wave after wave. Those are broken up by a few boring driving levels that let you shoot enemies and gun placements or firing an anti-aircraft gun on a ship.
The level visuals are good with an almost cell-shaded look. They are bright and colorful and range from jungles, caves, industrial bases, and frosty arctic levels. The explosions are nice, and the familiar vehicles were great to see. The motion comic cutscenes look good too. Lady Jaye’s face is a nightmare, but the rest were alright.
The sound was more of a mixed bag. Nothing is terrible (except the sound of the falling boulders at the end), but the sound isn’t great. I know the guns were varied on purpose, but none of them made the old pew-pew sound from the show. It’s a missed opportunity. The general shooting sounds are OK but underwhelming. The voice acting is generally good too. Since the show isn’t new, the voices aren’t going to sound perfect, but most of them nailed the spirit of the character and voice.
The music is fine too, but you’ll notice a glaring absence. I mentioned not hearing the gun audio from the old show, but I don’t remember hearing the iconic theme either. It feels like another missed opportunity to deliver the warm and fuzzies. I thought I heard something close once, but it sounded like someone playing a version that avoids a copyright strike on YouTube.
The game does allow for local two-player co-op and local four-player PVP. It’s a lot more fun and removes my problems with the AI partner. Co-op is split horizontally, and you can play a single mission or the whole game. This is where you should focus your playtime.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout was obviously made by people who love the universe. The story and character selection are good, but the combat, missions, and AI partners will deflate your enthusiasm. Helping the Joes save the world is still satisfying, but only if you play with someone else. If you are only looking to relive some nostalgia, this will work in a pinch, but I would keep looking.
G.I Joe: Operation Blackout PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/10
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout has a great character roster with good visuals and voice acting and a story that shows an understanding of the cartoon I loved. The third-person combat is generic and bland, and you’ll probably want to help your enemies kill your A.I. teammate in the singleplayer gameplay. Local co-op gameplay is much better, but that and my nostalgia for the series is not enough to overcome its other issues.
- Great playable characters
- The story feels like an episode of the show
- Good presentation
- Bland combat
- Repetitive levels
- A.I. teammate is horrible
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 PS4 Pro.