Just admit it: we all want to go to space. That's what put Neil Armstrong on the moon; it's why the Star Wars universe has captivated audiences for years; it's why you must always remember to set your phasers to stun lest you stir up an intergalactic war... er, sorry, I nerded out there for a second. The point is, space is awesome, and fighting in space is even better. That's what Operation Blackknife, a new top-down sci-fi action game from LoneWolf Productions, is all about: spaceships and space battles. Beam me up, Scotty.
You pilot the experimental ship X-1 Delta, armed to the teeth with weapons, shields, and other goodies to blast away at the ships and base of a corporation that for some reason has gone evil (typically not a good business strategy). The story plops you down in the seat of the ship, just before your base is attacked by an unidentified vessel. Maneuver with the [arrow] keys while you aim and fire with the mouse. The game has a nice, if a bit lengthy, tutorial section, so you won't feel overwhelmed. Enemies will drop credits that you can use to buy even more weapons, expediting the destruction process. A key feature of the game, aside from augmenting your ship, is the ability to use auxiliary powers, which are accessed by holding the [C] button. You can throw on some armor, cloak your ship, or give it that extra boost of speed beyond the afterburners. All three are driven by auxiliary power, and the system is balanced so that they will only give you a slight edge in battle rather than morphing you into some unstoppable Deux Ex Machina.
Everything controls well. Your ship is sluggish and unprepared at first, but a few upgrades later and you'll... well, you still won't feel like you're moving with frightening speed, but it's a noticeable improvement. The variety of weapons isn't as impressive as I thought it would be while there are too many upgrades and modules to keep track of. Still, seeing exactly what your ship can do after adding a second pulsar lance is a lot of fun, and there are sandbox and "Endless Wave" modes to play around with some of the things you might miss in the story mode.
I found Operation Blackknife surprisingly immersive. Rather than an endless stream of baddies and samey levels, the game switches things up from level to level. Sometimes you'll be defending a base, at other times, you'll be guiding a rescue ship through a field of radioactive wreckage. One level launches you into unguided hyperspace where you have to dodge friggin' black holes. Wait, why aren't you playing this game right now? Okay, to be fair, it's kind of short, which could mean that either it doesn't overstay its welcome or never really reaches its full potential. For me, it's the latter. By the end, which came quite abruptly, I wanted to experience more. Maybe we'll have a sequel in the future, but for now, enjoy a spacey romp through space. Space. The Final Frontier. Cue the Star Trek music.