G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra Review: YO JOE!
Oh, “G.I. Joe,” what am I going to do with you? When I originally heard that there was going to be a live-action movie based off of a beloved cartoon of my youth, I was a little concerned that they weren’t going to be able to pull it off. I have yet to see the movie, but I’ve heard good things. However, when I heard that there was going to be a game based off of that same movie I was a little more skeptical. I retained high hopes that, even though the game was based on a summer blockbuster that it might manage to still be good, even though the industry’s track record tends to fall a little short in that area. I even crossed my fingers for some kind of throwbacks to the original cartoons. EA managed to cover at least half of my hopes.
The general goal of “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” is pretty simple; shoot anything that moves, and stop Cobra. It accomplishes both of those goals pretty well, however, the way it goes about both of those things could drive some gamers a little mad. Depending on where your expectations are for the game, the entire package may come up a little bit short.
The development team at EA created a third-person perspective, co-op shooter (think 3D “Contra”) around the movie characters mission to piece together who Cobra is, as they try to take them down. Each player selects the character they want to be from the line-up of 12 unlockable Joes, and four additional members of Cobra. Each character fits into one of three classes; Combat Soldier, Commando, or Heavy Gunner, and each has their own unique abilities. Overall, it has a very “LEGO Star Wars” feel to it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it fosters a fun co-op experience. And, if that’s all that you need to be happy, the “Rise of Cobra” might be the perfect game for you. Unfortunately, some of the game’s design and mechanics really hinder the overall experience for anyone that might be looking for something a little more than a mindless run-and-gun shooter.
Again, it’s a very simple concept; shoot or be killed, and that’s really all the gameplay boils down to. As you shoot the Cobra troops, tanks, and gunships you get points for each kill, which are tallied at the end of each mission, and, in turn, help you unlock more characters. However, if you’re playing the game by yourself, you lose the sense of competition that comes along with the co-op aspect of the game, and the experience turns into you being shot at, with a bit of AI controlled support fire. It’s undeniable that the base concept of blowing things up is a lot of fun through the first few levels, but that fun wears down after a while, and the game tends to become redundant. They do mix up the gameplay once every few levels by including an overhead laser shooting satellite mini-game, but it only comes up once every few hours of play.
Beyond the gameplay, the single most frustrating part of “G.I. Joe” is the camera, which is locked behind the players at all times. Sure, it definitely makes the game feel a lot like the “G.I. Joe” arcade game from 1992, but that game was made in 1992. Back then they didn’t have the option to provide a 3D camera in a fully rendered environment. There were points in “Rise of Cobra” where neither I, nor the enemy that I was firing at were on screen leaving me completely lost, confused, and pretty much hung out to dry. A fix for the camera could have created an entirely different game.
While a lot of gamers will have some problems with the gameplay, there are a few redeeming factors for the game. Even with the movie tie-in, there is an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, especially when playing with the original outfits for Duke and Scarlett (but where were the rest), or watching the unlockable P.S.A.s. Preying on nostalgia is always a great way to please the fans that have been with you the longest. However, outside of those rose colored glasses, “Rise of Cobra” plays at a pretty good pace, and it doesn’t get too draggy at any points. Also, it reminds me a lot of “Earth Defense Force 2017”; a cathartic shooter, where you don’t have to think a whole lot, just, ya know, without the giant acid spitting ants. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to blow stuff up without thinking twice about it, at least as long as it’s a video game.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a game, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” might not be for you. If you’re just looking for an arcadey feeling, co-op, game that allows you to shoot a whole lot of things without a whole lot of thought then you might want to give this game a go. However, if you aren’t able to resign yourself to the fact that the dev team didn’t include any kind of camera control, and that the game feels a little rushed out the door to correspond with the release movie, then you might want to look for Cobra somewhere else.
“G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” was developed and published by Electronic Arts for release on August 4th, 2009, for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, PSP, Playstation 2, and DS. This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.