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Game Over Online ~ Operation Blockade

GameOver Game Reviews - Operation Blockade (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Operation Blockade (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II 350MHz, 128MB RAM, 300MB HDD, 16MB 3D Accelerator4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 40%
Date Published Wednesday, June 5th, 2002 at 12:06 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Operation Blockade is a simple game trying to recapture the innocence and fun of classic turret shooters like Beachhead. As Incoming and its critically acclaimed sequel have shown, something with as basic a premise as manning a turret can actually turn into a challenging game if done right. The backdrop behind Blockade takes advantage of the recent nostalgia with the WWII era but curiously, the developers have put the entire game in a fictitious setting, pitting an imperialist empire against a conglomerate of united (presumably democratic) states. Apparently, the empire, which comes off as the Nazi antagonist in WWII, is fueling its war only through shipping vital supplies from its homeland. The protagonists, who suffer innumerable setbacks, come up with an ingenious plan to harass the supply lanes of their enemy. Your mission is top secret, like the ones conducted in the movie Pearl Harbor: missions where you get medals only they send them to your folks.

Basically, you're parachuted on to an island that constitutes nothing more than a speck on the map. With three weapons available to you, you must defeat all forms of enemy. You have the slow but powerful artillery gun that can double as a slow flak gun. You also have a nimble but significantly weaker machine gun and for ground troops, you'll have to duke it out with them with an automatic rifle. The developers throw quite a bit at you in the later levels. One of the key things to these types of games is the design. Does the design force you to prioritize enemies, manage ammunition supply (as they almost are always limited) and adequately challenge your expertise with all weapons? Blockade doesn't exactly do that for the first half dozen missions. In fact, it can be quite boring because the entire enemy you will face comprises of an airplane or two which makes it feel like as if the enemy is merely using you as a training target. The fireworks start flowing after the first dozen missions.

Blockade uses a 3D engine of sorts. Soldiers, for example, appear to be sprites but the there's a good variety in types of enemy due to the developers' pillaging of canonical WWII icons. There are games that benefit from 3D engines and there are others that do not do so well. For years, with the exception of Myth, 3D RTS titles have been received in a lukewarm manner. Likewise, we have to question with the limited scope of Blockade whether the game warrants a 3D engine at all. It works, for air units and ships but the terrain is vastly empty. The Stuka dive-bomber, on the other hand, is clearly visible and named. Why the developers don't just simply label the enemy as Nazis is beyond me, considering the time period you participate in is between 1939 and 1945. Aside from that, things are spiced up by the fact that you'll fight under starry nights, as well at dusk or dawn in addition to sunny days. But gameplay is, like many games of this genre, fairly simplistic. While the briefings suggest you'll get friendly reinforcements, barges, or what not, none of it ever appears and the one person versus the world motif gets monotonous after awhile. It would have been nice to be assisted by other aircraft, towed on a ship to down subs or at least do something other than be stuck on that island for the entire duration of the game. That's something Incoming was able to do and variety is the key factor in separating the classics and the forgettable titles.

Unfortunately, Blockade stumbles into the latter category. It manages to salvage itself with a proficient multiplayer outing. You're able to play on the net and on a LAN. The latter, for some strange reason, is IPX only, although you can make do with using the 'internet' (TCP/IP) option for your LAN computers. You're able to choose from co-operative and competitive play. The former is more fun but Blockade features no matching services. You have to know the exact IP address of the host server you want to join. Coupled with the fact that the game is not wildly popular and does not really have a dedicated server option, you'll have to hook up with some people you know really well.

The inability to emancipate the player and place them into vehicles, different scenery or at least let them switch between different turret positions is rather beyond me. Surely, if your lone player was threatening the enemy, they would change tactics or move their base of operations or shipping lanes elsewhere. Perhaps I'm looking for too much from a game like this. The frenetic pace of prioritizing and using scarce resources, so critical to the success of games like Beachhead and Incoming, comes off as a painful exercise in the more difficult levels. You don't know what you're doing it for. In the absence of any variations or glamorous special effects, it's lacking any compelling reason for the player to trudge forward. Incoming's successor, Incoming Forces, did a great spin. In the original, you were the humans or good guys defending against alien attack in a variety of vehicles and fixed emplacements. The successor put you in the shoes of the alien turning the game around completely. Sadly, such sparks of creativity and innovation cannot be found in Blockade.

 

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Rating
40%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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