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Operation Darkness on Game and Player

Operation Darkness

Ed Kirchgessner  //  July 4, 2008

Werewolves and zombies and Nazis. Oh my.


urn-based strategy is a genre that never quite captured the imaginations of Western audiences — while games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Ogre Battle have dedicated fan bases, these are still relatively small when compared to those of real-time games such as Starcraft or Command and Conquer. Companies like Square-Enix and Atlus regularly release new turn-based games for the last-gen platforms (PSP, PS2, etc.). Meanwhile, the genre is all but absent on the current generation of consoles. Operation Darkness is one of the first traditional turn-based strategy titles to be released on the Xbox 360. While one might commend Atlus for bringing an underrepresented game type to a new audience, less-than-stellar production and a number of technical gaffes are bound to drive away more players than the title will attract.

Go ahead and ignore those numbers.
Operation Darkness takes place along an alternate World War Two timeline in which both the Allies and Nazi Germany have brought supernatural powers onto the battlefield. Two player-controlled werewolf characters face off against an at-times endless stream of SS zombies and their vampire overlords. While such a fantastical take on the events of the war may seem silly to some, the game can also amaze with its attention to detail — players will be treated to a decent history lesson along with some schlocky gothic horror, learning about some of the more obscure military experiments of Hitler's entourage. While the voice acting and script aren't the greatest, Operation Darkness' story is entertaining enough and probably forms the highpoint of the game's experience.

Sadly, Operation Darkness falters in all the areas which matter the most in turn-based strategy. While players are able to control a rather sizable party of up to ten combatants, little (if anything) makes these characters unique. For instance, a character's skills determine their role far less than the equipment they're carrying. As such, you're best off giving all your characters sniper rifles and bazookas. Most magic abilities and skills are open to every character in the platoon, which results in a "sameness" that completely defeats the purpose of the game's already weak customization options. Close-quarters combat is an act of last resort rather than a harsh reality of the battlefield.

Further muddying the experience is a camera that makes setting up ranged attacks an exercise in frustration. Full 3D camera control is great and all, but not when it takes on a life of its own. I constantly found myself fighting to position the camera where I needed it. To make matters worse, the game's levels are only overlaid with a grid for the movement phase, not targeting. As a result, one basically has to guess where to place characters in order to get off a clean shot. Since there's no undo, you'll constantly find yourself moving into the perfect position only to find that your line of sight is obstructed by a miniscule piece of scenery.

Seeing as how Operation Darkness' gameplay is essentially broken, one could only hope that it succeeded graphically, but even here it fails. This title looks more like a PS2 launch game than an Xbox 360 exclusive. While games of this ilk don't need to be pretty, it certainly helps, particularly when a lack of interface tools forces the player to rely on environmental cues for movement and targeting. Are there worse games to play on the Xbox 360? Most definitely, but that still doesn't make Operation Darkness worthy of your time or money. Simple gameplay, rudimentary graphics, a broken camera and a complete lack of innovation make this rarity pretty easy to pass by. Sorry, Atlus: better luck next time.

Operation Darkness






NA Release

June 24, 2008


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Story impresses at times


  • Ugly graphics
  • Broken camera
  • Simplistic gameplay

G&P Rating

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