G.I. Joe is the latest 80’s Saturday morning cartoon to take the jump into the world of motion picture films, and without surprise, a movie-game adaptation has followed. Building off the new “film” version of G.I. Joe we are just glad someone “finally” put the developmental wheels in motion. How many years has it been since we’ve had a G.I. Joe videogame, you might ask... well the answer is simple, too long! Expectations might not be high, but here’s hoping. Yo Joe! Here is our review of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Developed by Double Helix, G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra is intended to capture the feel of the film into a fun action game that can be enjoyed by all age groups, and in this respect Double Helix has done their job. Like another Hasbro line turned into a movie, then into a game, Transformers fans should know what to expect. Sadly, G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra isn't going to appeal to the hardcore gamer, or Joe fan boys who have waited over 15+ years to have another shot at G.I. gaming. All the questions you might ask about Electronic Arts latest will likely be answered with a no, unless you ask the most important question. Is G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra fun? The answer to this one is oddly yes, in a simplistic no-brain needed, shoot em' up way.
Jumping into The Rise of Cobra I was a little hyped up because the PR department for both the film and the game has done a good job at putting out media. This turned my mildly interested smirk into a a half interested face of excitement. Even though you know the movie and tie-in game could be cheese, how can any kid who grew up the 1980s not be excited for a G.I. Joe game?! They have Duke, check... They have Cobra Commander, check. They are still called Cobra and G.I. Joe, check. So we are all good. Really, what else do you need to make an exciting G.I. Joe story?
Practically writing itself, the plotlines that continues the struggle between the American Special Forces military team the Joe’s and the evil terrorist organization known as Cobra. G.I. Joe has been around since 1964 and was re-popularized in the 80s as a new action figure line launched along with the popular cartoon. In the game, like the cartoon and other off shoot media like comic books and animated features the plot remains the same. Cobra has some mad plot for world domination and the Joe’s step into to foil their plans. In the early 2000’s we see the two factions fall back into place in their familiar war, the twist here... well Cobra has nano-technology, they have captured some Joe's, and you have to save the world. ooh the evilness.
Keeping with the excitement of having a virtual play set of G.I. Joe’s, I was surprised to see that G.I. Joe took the approach of an top down action shooter, with a few new twists. Strangely enough G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra reminded me of the old school shooter Commando, Capcom's old coin-op from way back in 1985. It might not be the same in a direct comparison, but there are probably more similarities then Double Helix would like to admit.
The first thing they did was pull the camera back to give G.I. Joe a fresh perspective; however this choice might not have been the best one to go with. With the camera being in a fixed position without the ability to rotate there are a lot of visibility problems. This leaves you high and dry while you are running around shooting at enemies you can't see... and sometimes it’s your own characters you can’t even see. To fix this you have to move around as much as possible until the camera fixes itself. This problem was bound to come up because it often does in modern games of this style, however it’s a little too frequent in The Rise of the Cobra which can lead to some frustrating situations.
For other problems G.I. Joe also has some issues with its targeting system. As your two selected Joe’s go into battle you can quickly change the enemy you are targeting with the flick of the analog stick. This works... but it’s not the most intuitive system which often jumps around to get stuck on a non-enemy target. When things get hectic you really have to pay attention to exactly what your shooting at because one moment you’ll be blasting away at the Cobra foot soldiers and the next a star-filled points cube. A contributing factor the confusing battlefield is the small and hard to see marker. I’m not sure why Double Helix didn’t highlight the enemy or make some type of highlighting indicator to make it easier to see what you are targeting. It’s the small things that could have been easily avoided with a little bit of extra code.
Looking past the camera and targeting issues, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is perfect excuse to get in a little mindless action... and yes, it's still fun with the above issues included. There is a list of Joes you can play through the missions as, and since you can select them in the beginning of a mission and even change them up thanks to teleporting devices in the battlefield. Each Joe is put into a class system including Heavy Weapons, Soldiers, and Commandos. On top of that each Joe also has a unique ability like throwing grandees, or placing a little attack drone on the battlefield. This keeps things as fresh as possible when jumping from character to character. The Joe's in the game are Backblast, Beachhead, Duke, Gung-Ho, Flash, Heavy Duty, Ripcord, Scarlett, Kamakura, Shipwreck and the one-and-only Snake- Eyes. If you are a Joe fan then these names will instantly sound familiar, and for those who don’t know the Joes, this line-up is mainly made up of the core Joes with exception of Kamakura.
Fighting Cobra in the G.I. Joe game is the same as every single scenario in this universe. Like always Cobra’s main asset is its numbers and its ruthless use of weapon technology. Although in a radical turn the Joe's also have their own tech-weapon to their advantaged and this is the new accelerator suits. Armed with unlimited ammunition the ability the activate their new accelerator suits once the meter is filled, the Joes have a short boost of invulnerability and heavy firepower.
Besides fighting on foot there are a few times you’ll get to jump behind the wheel of a vehicle and unleash the big guns. Taking control of a heavily armoured and juiced up vehicle might sounds like totally awesome, but really it doesn’t feel that way because of the bad camera angles and clunky vehicle controls. Really its cool to see the old play sets in the game, but in some instances, like the vehicles, you might be sticking to the old standby, the run and shoot.
Rise of the Cobra also has another gameplay variation that is a top down shooter where you take control of the Joe’s satellite laser and blast the enemies from space! These unfrequented sections are placed during selected missions and offer up a few seconds of different gameplay. Even though it kind of feels like a tacked on afterthought, it is still fun. Lasers from space, common! Unfortunately that is about it in the gameplay department in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. The game is very straightforward in a good was simplistic. I would have liked to see a multiplayer option even if it was simply multiplayer co-op support.
Unlockables worth Unlocking
Even without multiplayer, Rise of Cobra gives the player enough incentive to replay selected levels to achieve a higher score, unlock cool classic G.I. Joe videos, search out unfound hidden objects, all while hunting down the list of Achievements/ Trophies. The unlockables is where Double Helix gives the long time Joe fans some fan service, and if you're not familiar with the Joes it will give some incite into their background. The public service announcements are almost worth it on their own to unlock. For all those who want their old Joe's back in action, this is where you'll find them. Sure they could have done more, considering the hundreds of hours of footage from the old show, or even its later interpretations, but if this is all we get, then I'll take it.
With all the gameplay problems in The Rise of Cobra and its oddly missing online co-op play, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra falls into the rental category rather than a full out purchase. Until the price drops, I’d hold up for a movie ticket, or a few good hours of watching old Joe cartoons. Although keep in mind that younger gamers who are not as sentimental as us old sticklers might be more accepting of this straightforward action game. After all, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is easy to get into and a lot of simplistic shooting fun. No matter how you look at it, curiosity will surely win any Joe fan over, so just make sure you hit up Blockbuster before Gamespot. Oh no Joe, better luck next time.
Gameplay:6.0, Graphics:6.0, Sound:6.5, Innovation:5.5, Mojo:7.0 Final: 6.2 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 08.04.09