G.I. Joe, nearly every boy and man knows these toys and grew up with them. Fond memories of these small action figures and their TV show counter parts. As is the norm these days, Movies based on toys are being turned into movies, and those movies are being turned into video games. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, published by EA and developed by Double Helix Games, is one of those games.
The game uses much of the same setting and same characters as the movie, but takes place after the movie ends. Characters from the movie, as well as many who aren’t in it, are featured both as playable and non-playable characters. The game itself mirrors the movie in more than one respect, most notably that it’s just silly fun but not a great product. Rise of Cobra has elements which could be developed into making a great game, but ultimately fall short to create a game that feels like it was developed for an arcade in the 90s.
The game features three classes, Soldier, Heavy Weapons, and Commando. Heavy Weapons have a strong ranged attack, but have a weak melee. Commandos are strong melee characters, but weak at range. Soldiers are the jack of all trades. In theory this could be used really well, but much of the game boils down to holding down the right trigger and strafing around the enemy. Melee rarely comes into play, which leaves the Commando class largely useless, only taken out for unlocking extras.
The combat itself is pretty simplistic, as stated before. Hold right trigger and strafe around the enemy with the occasional rolling dodge tends to be the best strategy for every situation. There is a cover system in the game, but it tends to be more of a hassle than a benefit. Your cover is often destroyed before it can be useful and sitting in one place while trying to shoot some Cobras just makes you twice as easy to kill.
The game employs a two player party system, which on single player amounts to little more than variety in characters or an extra life on the hard difficulty. Swapping from one character to another while your original restores his or her health is simple and easy, but seeing some sort of X-men Legends or Marvel Ultimate Alliance combo move would have been a very welcomed addition to the gameplay to give this party system more life.
There are even still more problems with the game. The game’s camera is stuck on a rail which you can’t control, which often accounts for shooting offscreen and hoping for the best. Targeting is hit and miss, sometimes targeting the right person or just having you shoot off into dead space. The Vehicles in the game control poorly but do add a rather impressive firepower to your arsenal. The story has some pretty big plot holes from the movie, which is probably due to the movie’s plot in favor of a more cartoon-centric story.
That’s not to say this game is entirely bad, it’s just not particularly great. It does have it’s good moments, most of which are cosmetic, but these good elements actually make the game a more enjoyable experience than the movie did.
The game doesn’t take itself as seriously. The accelerator suits, which make you invulnerable and super strong for several dozen seconds every so often, activate the classic G.I. Joe anthem which you just can’t help but smile at every time you hear it. The characters don’t have a sense of humor that isn’t so dry it leaves you wanting to kill for some lip balm. Instead the tone is more light hearted, much like the old cartoon show. The strained “knowing is half the battle” line in the movie isn’t so much an annoyance in the game as it is a tribute to what made Joe so special.
The graphics, for the most part, are well polished. The slew of characters in the game look like G.I. Joe action figures, with exception of Duke and Ripcord who were designed to look like their movie counterparts, but fall short. The vehicles and buildings look good and fit the locals and theme of the game perfectly.
The voice acting is surprisingly good. Duke sounds like Duke, and every other Joe sounds like you would expect them too. This largely in part due to the casting of many great Video game voice actors like Steve Blum and Robin Atkin Downes.
The game itself is challenging, permitting you’re playing on something beyond the casual difficulty. Hardcore itself is down right brutal, giving you only one life for each character, then forcing you to start the entire level over again if you die with both. It might get frustrating, but a good challenge is never a bad thing.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, is a game with it’s heart in the right place, but not it’s brain. The poor camera, lack of overall variety, dull party system, and poor controls make for a game that would be better suited for a cheaper title. The game’s playful and nostalgic attitude along with it’s good graphics and good voice acting give it a good style, but doesn’t quite make up for the average gameplay.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and enjoyed the movie it’s worth a rent. The game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS (which different is a game in and of itself).