The first-person turret shooter Operation Blockade is "set in a fictitious World War II environment." Scheduled as the first in a series of budget shooters, it's a bit out of the ordinary given the recent tilt toward RTS and RPG games. Older gamers will be reminded of standing in the arcade playing House of the Dead or any other light gun game -- it's simple but oddly addictive.
The Saruvian Empire has plans to take over the world. You're a lone soldier defending a United Sovereign Territories' island who must destroy enemy supply lines to allow the UST to retake lost ground. Biplanes, bombers, soldiers, and all types of ships will be employed against you, and all you have is a three-gun arsenal to fend them off.
Your light gun takes out infantry, a medium gun shoots down small aircraft like biplanes and sinks small boats, and the large gun is used against big targets like aircraft carriers. The latter weapon has a weak targeting sight so getting at the big boats can be challenging. Every so often you acquire grenades for lobbing at the infantry, but using the medium gun is more effective and fun. You can also call for an air strike, bombing run, or torpedoes, but ultimately you'll stick with the main guns for convenience, especially when you receive upgrades.
Gameplay is very reminiscent of older arcade shooters with waves and waves of enemies that come flooding at you while you blast away. You're totally locked into your bunker and the action comes from spinning around to scan the ocean, skies and ground looking for something to shoot. It's a real no-brainer that requires no skill or planning, just a desire to shoot anything that moves. Most missions differ only in the type of attacker and the number of enemies, though occasionally you'll have an objective. The lack of movement might be tedious for some gamers, and even enemies look similar to one another with only slight variations.
Inevitably, with no dodging ability, you'll always take damage no matter how quick you are on the trigger finger (mouse or space bar). Repairs and ammo are earned by blowing up cargo ships and junkers that drop ammo and medical supplies, which are magically given to you. In the later levels, it's possible to actually run out of ammunition, creating a Catch-22 -- you need ammo to blow up the boats to get more. If you don't have enough grenades, air support or torpedoes left to finish the mission, you can either quit the game and restart, or simply wait to die.
Gameplay in multiplayer is a bit of a mystery since the instructions only state that you can host a game or join one in progress and explain how to set it up. Other options allow you to change the effects but not the control configuration, though it's not really needed. Considering the game is a budget title, the graphics and sound are surprisingly decent. Despite the fictitious antagonists, enemies look similar to Nazi troops and the biplanes appear to be vintage WWII German aircraft.
Operation Blockade's single challenge is dealing with the hordes of enemies thrown at you, and gameplay becomes a mouse mashing, key crushing marathon. The harder difficulty settings simply make enemies tougher to kill, and with no skill required, gamers are left with the enjoyable task of blowing up everything in sight, which, considering the recent propensity for complex first-person shooters, can be a nice break and a bit of fun.
Graphics: For a budget title, graphics look reasonably good. The sky goes through daylight changes, which alter the look of the ocean (with waves) and land. Explosions are nicely done.
Sound: Enemy soldiers scream in various voices, biplanes have an echoing affect as they zip past, and your character yells the occasional phrase.
Enjoyment: Despite its easy nature, the game is quite enjoyable. Simply spin around and shoot anything that moves. The occasional shouts of "Booya!" and the like will make you laugh out loud.
Replay Value: If you like a simplistic shooter with no real plot or depth, you'll play repeatedly. If not, once will be enough.
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Marine Heavy Gunner: Vietnam, Pacific Warriors: Air Combat Action, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Pariah, Operation Flashpoint: GotY Edition, Nitro Family, Mob Enforcer, Line of Sight: Vietnam
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