|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Success||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 24, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It seems like there's a laundry list of issues, but much of it is overshadowed by the strategy engine underneath everything. Blowing up a tank with a bazooka is super satisfying, and when you win an hour-long battle there is a true sense of accomplishment.
As you see your characters level, getting new skills (like healing, special attacks, etc.), acquiring powerful weapons, and tapping into their supernatural talents, you just want to keep going one more level forward. If you get stuck, you can always replay non-story missions to build experience.
The inclusion of Xbox LIVE support is a surprising feature. You can play co-op with up to four people online on a small selection of maps. The nice thing is someone who has level 10 characters can play with someone who has characters at level 60. It would have been nice if the developer put in the ability to do player-versus-player matches or play the entire single-player campaign in co-op, but what's included is welcome.
The easiest way to knock Operation Darkness is to pan the graphics. Sure, the in-game models look a generation behind (almost like an early Xbox game), but the 2D art on display in the story sequences is stylized and detailed. From an audio standpoint, the voice work is well done and most of the backing tracks complement the dramatic tone of the game.
There's a solid strategy game underneath the absurd story exterior of Operation Darkness; it's just a question of whether the average gamer will have the patience to tough it out through the difficult beginning to get there. Strategy-RPG fans will ignore the game's shortcomings and find much to praise, but this isn't a game that's going to rope in those who aren't already fans of the particular genre.
CCC Freelance Writer