G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout is a perfectly average game – it’s honestly not particularly exciting but it is serviceable. It’s as plain as plain can be, a third-person shooter with a cookie cutter campaign and middling multiplayer suite. It’s somewhat hard to recommend to most people as there are much better alternatives, however there are highlights, especially for fans of the franchise. The story is entertaining, the voice acting is surprisingly great, and there’s a wide variety of characters that you are able to play as. There is obvious passion from the developers for the subject matter and you can really feel that this is clearly for fans.
The main focus of Operation Blackout seems to be the single player campaign. It’s a decent length, around six hours, and it starts off really strong but then peters out quickly. It’s novel at the beginning, being able to embody some of G.I. Joe’s greatest characters. Every level gives you a choice of two characters, usually either from Cobra or the Joes; this gives some much needed variety as each character has a specific weapon and special ability unique to them.
You will use those guns and abilities quite a lot too as the campaign is a massive shooting gallery, and while there are, on rare occasions, gameplay diversions, these don’t happen very often at all. Almost every mission devolves into a wave-based defense, where endless amounts of robots come and try to eliminate you. As you would expect to hear, this gets incredibly tiring and the initial excitement that came from playing as these iconic characters soon wears off. Being Snake Eyes is cool, but what’s the point if I’m just defending some random computer from the same enemies I’ve been fighting for the last three hours?
It also does not help that the enemy variety is so simple: there are only a few enemies that you fight throughout the entire game, no matter if you’re Cobra or the Joes. They are all basic enemy types – the regular grunts, the big tough ones, flying ones, etc. It’s a shame as being set in such a bombastic world, there are so many possibilities for a variety of options to fight. Operation Blackout tries to remedy this somewhat with boss battles, but these are also pretty lackluster. Most just feel like bullet sponges that run at you.
However there are saving graces for the campaign, and you can add to that the fact that the comic book cutscenes are cool and exciting. The plot, while not groundbreaking, is a fun romp that feels like watching a feature length animated G.I. Joe movie. This is also supported by the wonderful voice work for all the characters, which you will hear a lot of.
In addition, the basic gameplay is pretty solid. All of the guns feel reasonably good to use and there is a decent enough weapon variety to keep things staying fresh. The abilities are unique for each character and are satisfying to use too – a particular favorite is Sci-Fi’s ability which sends out a cute flying drone that shocks nearby enemies.
The multiplayer, by comparison, is not very exciting. Again it’s technically serviceable, but there are only a couple of maps on offer with only four game modes across all of them – pretty basic stuff like deathmatch, king of the hill, control points and capture the flag. The real deal breaker however is that it’s only local four player, and there is no online component. This can be some good fun for a little while but it runs dry pretty quickly, there is no real progression to speak of, and some of the skins can be unlocked in the campaign. After a few games it’s easy to get bored.
That’s a major issue because there is very little replay value in G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout; just some varying degrees of difficulties and collectibles. But that is about it – after you beat the campaign, it’s hard to justify going back.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout on Xbox One has an audience, but I can’t imagine it’s a very big one. The title is perfectly serviceable but there are so many options that are of higher quality and more worthy of your time that it’s tricky to want to get involved here. However if you are a fan of this franchise, it will be a fun romp through the world of G.I. Joe; something which is perhaps all it was ever trying to be in the first place. Remember, knowing the score is only half the battle.