Operation Warcade: review

 

Of all the experiences that have been attempted (usually unsuccessfully) in VR, an old-fashioned shooting gallery is one that doesn’t come up as often as you might think. Operation Warcade has no interest in pretending to be anything other than what it is. Billed as a spiritual successor to Operation Wolf, it asks little more of the player than to shoot down swarms of military vehicles and faceless soldiers. This, in effect, is why it’s such brilliant fun to play.

Rather than a traditional title screen, you navigate the menus by sitting in front of an Operation Warcade machine in a virtual arcade. Your bum is firmly glued to the seat, sadly; you can’t wander round to explore your surroundings, much less try out any of the other games you can see (which is a shame, as some of them are enticing). With your level chosen by shooting the screen (don’t try this at home, kids), the action begins.

Don’t worry about your view being restricted to an annoyingly small virtual screen in front of you. Once you start a level, the action switches to a screen so huge, you have to really make an effort to see the edges. The effect, as the toy-esque environment slowly trundles past you, is akin to sitting on top of a truck. Which, as it happens, you’ll sometimes actually be doing.

Keep shooting those bad guys up, and you’ll draw a (freaky looking) crowd.

Find and shoot a yellow-coloured icon, and you’ll be sucked even further into the world, temporarily shrunk down to the point where things look like a standard FPS. You might be raining death upon your enemies from afar with a rocket launcher, up close and personal with a shotgun, riding in a helicopter while spraying your foes with bullets from a gatling gun, and more.

Whether slaughtering toy-sized soldiers or picking on somebody your own size, it captures the sheer dumb joy of a literal arcade shooter in the way no home game has for years. It’s not a very pretty game, but who cares? For one thing, gun handling has been implemented excellently (anything else would’ve killed the experience). Far too often, handling some sort of weapon in VR doesn’t feel quite right, and/or can mess up suddenly without warning. We never experienced any of that here.

A significant feather in this game’s proverbial cap is the variety of control options. You can use a DualShock, which works surprisingly well. R2 right hand (usually shoot), L2 left hand (usually grenade), motion controls to aim. Twin Move controllers work even better; one hand wields a gun (Uzi by default, as with the DualShock), the other handles grenades. Using this control option also opens up the opportunity to act out certain movements, such as drawing back and releasing an arrow from a bow, or steering a truck with one hand while shooting with the other. These tend to be the weak points of the game, though; the game would often lose track of our steering hand, and damned if we could ever work out the controls of the jet using this method, which we would consistently crash within seconds without even leaving the ground. Still, these sections are optional teleports, and never last long enough to ruin things completely.

Look, getting good screenshots in the middle of a firefight is difficult, okay??

If you have an aim controller, then we can tell you now, that’s where Operation Warcade truly shines. Surely the best game released so far compatible with the peripheral, you never for a second miss having two hands to command individually. Swapping your Uzi for an assault rifle, having a toy gun in your hands rather than a joypad (or two multipurpose plastic lollipops) makes a surprising amount of difference. As with the other options, handling is spot on and accuracy pin-sharp. You’ll smile with glee as you swing your gun this way and that, mowing down baddies.

The experience is a great big slice of delicious cheese, from the purposefully poorly sampled announcer’s voice to the gleeful simplicity of ‘shoot anything that moves’ (apart from the occasional civilian, if you can help it). The stars system gives things a welcome twist. Each mission has three optional objectives; get a certain number of headshots, rescue a certain number of prisoners, achieve a certain multikill with a specific weapon, that sort of thing. The first time you meet each of these objectives you’ll earn a star. Stars unlock new missions, as well as optional modifiers (such as a laser sight, or an extension of the timer for the game’s gravity gun pickup).

Despite a few bumps in the road if using dual Move controllers, this is a pleasingly shallow shooter that we heartily recommend whatever control options are available to you. If you miss the fun of arcade cabinet shooters – or you never had the chance to try them out – this is the game for you.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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