Developer: Ivanovich Games
Publisher: Ivanovich Games, Perp Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

I’ve been eagerly awaiting PlayStation VR’s first real ‘lightgun adventure’ game for a while, with classic titles like Time Crisis and House of the Dead at the very top of the list of games I want to see revived on the headset. I mean, sure, we’ve had games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood that scratch the itch a little, but I want a proper old-school lightgun title.

Well, we have an arcade shooting revival of sorts on the headset with Operation Warcade, but it wasn’t the kind I was expecting. It’ll certainly bring back arcade memories for gamers, but rather of side-scrolling shooters like Operation Wolf and Terminator 2: Arcade. You know what, though? It works really well and makes for a really fun old-school experience.

Operation Warcade

So Operation Warcade is a side-scrolling shooter that plays in a similar vein to classics such as Operation Wolf, meaning you don’t have to worry about moving through levels manually, but instead just focus on shooting all of the enemies, vehicles, and incoming projectiles that come your way whilst the screen scrolls automatically.

There are a decent variety of weapons to find and use in the game (the Gravity Gun adds a refreshing modern take on the formula), as well as a mixture of grenades that can inflict different damaging effects on your foes – you’re not just limited to explosions, but will instead be able to do the like of freezing enemies or slowing down time too.

It’s all very old school, but a whole lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a difficult game (though you do have to avoid the occasional incoming projectile) nor is it all that varied, but it never stops being fun spraying bullets upon your enemies.

Operation Warcade

Whilst most of the game takes place from a fixed camera angle where you’re essentially shooting down upon your foes, you’ll also come across specific Immersion Points that put you right into the action. It might be a case of controlling a vehicle and shooting at enemies, protecting yourself from an onslaught of enemies up close, or simply unleashing hell with a more powerful weapon. These moments add a neat twist to gameplay and show that Operation Warcade isn’t afraid to take a modern approach, whilst the switch to a more up-close first-person view sees the game playing more like a typical FPS too. Whilst the side-scrolling approach is undoubtedly fun, it could be guilty of feeling a little bit like a shooting gallery – these Immersion Points help spice the formula up.

Across all of the game’s missions are objectives for you to complete, with each one awarding the player with a star. These objectives are normally straight forward enough, with things like getting a specific amount of kills, headshots, kills with specific weapons, or just rescuing hostages making up the majority of them. It’s pretty difficult to clear all of the objectives in a level the first time around, so it adds an extra sense of replayability to each one – they also push you to play in a certain way too, which adds to the Operation Warcade’s challenge.

Earning stars will see you progress through the game, with certain levels only unlocking once you’ve earned a specific amount. It isn’t too hard going on the player and you’ll rarely have to force your way through levels again in order to progress, though some of the later stages can be a bit more demanding in how many stars you need to unlock them. It will take a fair bit of effort if you want to earn all of the stars in the game (there’re over one hundred in total), so you can expect to put in a good few hours if you want to see everything.

Operation Warcade

Those who prefer a more ‘old school’ experience can actually play the game in Classic mode, where objectives no longer count, you have limited ammo, and you simply work through six levels. Interestingly, Classic mode looks like you’re actually playing on an arcade machine too – you’ll stand there with the plastic gun in front of you as you manually aim and shoot at the screen. It’s certainly unique and added a really nostalgic touch to Operation Warcade, which is something I can always appreciate.

There are varied options in place as far as controllers are concerned in Operation Warcade, with players able to use either the Dual Shock, two Move controllers, or an Aim controller. They all have their pros and cons, though the Dual Shock is the weakest of the three – it lacks the satisfaction of feeling like you’re actually holding a weapon in front of you.

Operation Warcade

The Move controllers let you dual-wield though and use specific weapons, whilst the Aim adds an extra level of immersion and gives you an assault rifle. Be warned though: you can’t play the Classic game mode when using the Aim controller, so you’ll want to give the Move controllers at least one go if you want to see everything that the game has to offer.

Operation Warcade is a lot of fun to play, but on a visual basis it’s… well… ugly. The textures are poor, there’s a lot of pop-in, whilst you can expect to see a lot of jagged edges on most enemy models. This isn’t so bad when playing the game from the Arcade perspective, but as soon as you play in Immersive mode you’ll notice all of the little flaws and just how rough the game actually looks.

Operation Warcade

Somehow though, the lacking visuals don’t really deter from the experience – in fact, given the old-school approach the game takes, it actually feels a little fitting at times. There’s certainly no denying that it’s one of the uglier games to hit PlayStation VR, though.