Perhaps I am the wrong person to review this game as I’ve never owned a G.I. Joe (or Action Man as they were known in these parts) in my life. But on the other side of the coin maybe the lack of sentimentality and high expectations instead makes me the perfect man for the job.
G.I Joe started life as an action figure in 1964, as a matter of fact he actually coined the term ‘action figure’, and then became a cartoon which was no doubt designed to sell more action figures. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout the decades culminating in this years feature film and, of course, accompanying game. Again, both designed to sell more action figures – or so the cynic in me would suggest.
I shouldn’t need to tell you about the track record of film/game, game/film crossovers. The shameful history is forever burned into the minds and wallets of gamers worldwide. Unfortunately G.I Joe: The Rise of the Cobra does absolutely nothing to dispel the stereotype.
This third-person action/shooter follows a similar plot to the movie of the same name. Playing as the Joes, you are charged with defeating your arch enemies the Cobras and eventually their commanding boss. You get thrown into the thick of the action from the get-go as you and another Joe go at the enemy head on. As you progress, more Joes are unlocked and once you get more than 3 in your stable you can pick and choose which one you want to accompany you on each mission. Eventually, every Joe from the movie becomes available and each has their own special abilities. One might be a demolitions specialist, another might excel at up-close combat and others might be specialists in various forms of weaponry. It’s up to you to choose the right Joe for the task at hand.
During the game you battle in various generic locations - there are city, Arctic, desert and jungle missions, but because the missions themselves are so bland and repetitive you soon realise that they are akin to meeting someone, then meeting them again half an hour later and they’ve got a different shirt on - they’re still the same person - but look slightly different.
When a game is this generic, there normally wouldn’t be any replay value, firmly placing it in the weekend rental category. But the one thing that might make you want to pick up Rise of the Cobra again is the smart implementation of a point scoring system. You can replay each mission, aiming for a higher score by despatching more enemies and picking up or shooting all the bonus points boxes that boost your total. Again, it doesn’t make the game any more exciting, but it does give you a reason to take a second look.
However to counterbalance that positive attribute is the frustration that arises from the checkpoints that each mission is divided into. In the harder difficulties, the ‘checkpoints’ don’t actually double as ‘save points’ and hence if you die then you are forced to replay the whole mission from the beginning again. This is infuriating and is a feature that should be discouraged from any game. Checkpoints allow you to see your score progress, but when they don’t actually save the game itself then they’re about as useful as the proverbial mammaries on a male bovine.
Combat is extremely simplistic. Hold down the RT button and your Joe will fire a steady stream of unlimited ammo into the closest enemy or destructible object. Hitting X will perform some limited melee attacks and Y will activate your Accelerator Suit (which is earned by killing enough enemies and scoring enough points). While your Accelerator Suit is active, you get a speed and skills boost and are invincible for the duration of its power.
One more fatal flaw, as if there weren’t enough already, is the inability to manually shift the camera view. Having manual camera control is a necessity in games such as this and the limitations are even more painfully evident in co-op mode where hitting and getting stuck on invisible walls is a common occurrence. There’s nothing more annoying than getting punched in the head by an enemy you can’t see because the camera won’t swing around to show them.
So is there anything worth buying G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra for? The single-player is mundane and the game is riddled with elementary problems, but the co-op mode can be enjoyable if you compete with each other to get higher mission scores.
All in all, G.I Joe: The Rise of the Cobra is a movie cash-in that feels like a last minute rush job as so many of them do. A definite rental, if you can be bothered playing it at all.