Forget everything you know about budget-priced turret shooters, such as Beachhead 2002 and Beachhead 2000 before it. Of course, by "budget-priced turret shooter," we're referring to $20 games in which you control a stationary gun turret and rotate 360 degrees to shoot at oncoming enemies. Forget that they look bad, sound terrible, and are mind-numbing wastes of time. Wait, remember that last part, because you'll want to consider it before you play Operation Blockade, Infogrames' budget-priced turret shooter--and also (unfortunately) the first of a new series of budget-priced turret shooters.
For what it's worth, Operation Blockade actually looks quite good. The game takes place in a fictitious World War II-era conflict in which you play as a lone soldier in a gun turret who must shoot down enemy planes, ships, and infantry. You'll have to shoot down WWII biplane dogfighters, bombers, battleships, transport ships, and infantry soldiers who will dig in and launch mortars at you, and just about all of these enemies are modeled surprisingly well and look authentic in spite of the game's fictitious setting. You'll blow them up with the game's miserly four-weapon arsenal, but ships and planes actually blow up with some pretty spectacular 3D explosions, complete with debris and smoke effects. The game's environments also look nice--Operation Blockade's missions can take place at dawn, in the afternoon, dusk, and at night, and in each case, the sky will be lit by either sunlight or moonlight that reflects off the game's good-looking animated oceans and clouds. Operation Blockade also has some very good sound effects and even makes use of 3D sound to produce a Doppler effect as enemy planes strafe past you, off into the distance. The game's explosions are loud and clear, and the enemy infantry you mow down with your weapons will each scream individually with a few different voice samples, so they don't all sound like the same guy dying repeatedly. Unfortunately, a few different voice samples are all your character has, and none are very good. Despite the fact that you're all alone sitting in a turret in the middle of nowhere, your nameless, faceless character will always gleefully yell out one of the same three or four lame taunts when he shoots down an enemy. He'll spew out expressions such as "Like shootin' fish in a barrel," "There's more where that came from," and the timeless World War II battle-cry of freedom, "Booya!"--which will quickly begin to wear away at your sanity. Then again, if you were to buy, install, and actually enjoy Operation Blockade, you'd need to be at least partially insane. That's because when you look past its good graphics and sound--and you will--Operation Blockade's arcade-style gameplay is relentlessly repetitive, often frustrating, and never really fun. The game gives you three regular weapons: a light machine gun for use against infantry, a medium machine gun for use against small boats and aircraft, and a cannon for use against larger boats. However, the medium gun is an all-purpose weapon that you'll rely on the most, especially since the cannon doesn't really have a useful gun sight that you can use to accurately target your enemies. You'll also sometimes have access to a fourth weapon, grenades, which you can toss a short distance toward your enemies, as well as a few different kinds of "bomb" attacks, like air strikes, but you'll generally end up using your three primary weapons. Then you sit in your turret, rotate around, and shoot at whatever moves--there's little skill involved in the game other than basic point-and-shoot aiming, since you're in a stationary turret that can't dodge (and always gets hit). You can hit larger targets, such as cruisers and aircraft carriers, to "salvage ammo and medical supplies," which instantly heals damage you've taken and replenishes your ammunition in true arcade-game fashion. And that's it. To make the game "challenging," the later missions in the game throw even more enemies at you, and you can also scale up the difficulty settings to make enemies tougher (and to require more shots to destroy them). Both of these things end up making it easier to be in the preposterous position of completely running out of ammo--a problem that happens much more often than it should to a soldier whose sole purpose in life is to fire a turret. When this happens, you're a sitting duck, and you can either restart the game or sit there and watch your enemies gradually wear you down until you die. Operation Blockade actually has a lot of different missions to play through, but they're basically all just more of the same. And anyway, you're better off not playing Operation Blockade at all. Though the game has some good-looking graphics and some pretty good sound, they were wasted on an unenjoyable, repetitive action game that should itself be blockaded from your hard drive.
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