Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Yo, Joe! After what was ultimately a disjointed and subpar movie, it was clear that a subpar and disjointed game had to follow. I am usually quite lenient when it comes to movie tie-in video games, as the past few I have tried out weren’t too terrible of experiences, and I will be the first to admit that a good movie video game comes as a complete shock to me. Sadly, when I popped in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, I shook my head, though I knew I shouldn’t have been disappointed. That’s just the way life is. It’s rather unfortunate that I can’t recommend a game that encourages becoming a Real American Hero, but it’s also the truth.

In its simplest form, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a Joe-skinned wannabe Contra, stripped of any personality the movie might have mustered up with its moments of ridiculous, unbelievable acting and over-the-top action, augmented with the embarrassing throwbacks to the cartoon series and toy line and sprinkled with dashes of terrible game design and some truly useless co-op action. To be fair, the fact that this game features generic Joes is not entirely the fault of the designers. They were absolutely trying to do their best to live up to the movie, which awarded all of the SUPER COOL heroes featured in the movie with identical uniforms, weapons, and personalities, making them seem more like a faction of Joes rather than separate entities. In all fairness it’s possible that EA did all that they could with such a disaster of a movie, so this could be one time that the developers aren’t entirely at fault.
Note that I did say entirely, as there is plenty to find wrong with this game. If the fact that booting it up and getting into it reminds you of playing a value Xbox Live Arcade title doesn’t bother you, then perhaps your standards have slowly dropped over the years. I am usually complacent when it comes to most games and will give them all fair chances. For a game that wants to be as epic as the movie wanted to be, there just isn’t much here to convince me that the Joes are even the side I want to be on. At the very least the premise is quite simple. After choosing a difficulty, you’ll be tasked with navigating several extremely linear levels in quite close quarters. You’ll be doing this with one of many interchangable AI-controlled characters across completely forgettable environments that you’ve seen many times over such as frozen tundras, deserts, sweltering jungles, and other nondescript locations that you could name off in your sleep if you’ve ever played a video game.
gijoe2Of course while you’re making your way through all these places, there’ll inevitably be Cobra drones to impede your progress. To get past them it’s always as simple as mashing a button as quickly as you can just to clear your screen of the nameless and faceless cronies. It’s kind of sad, really. I’m sure they all had families. When you’ve racked up enough points and an impressive body count, then your Joes will power up via the Accelerator Suits popularized by the movie. Both characters are instantly transformed into (you guessed it) souped up, cookie-cutter drone versions of themselves, along with surprisingly masculine voices, even for the occasional female character. While it’s nice to receive a short boost of power for a short time, this does nothing to up the game’s fun factor.
Two characters are presented for a reason – you can switch between the two at will, though most of the time I saw no real reason to unless I got sick of playing as the same guy in every level. You’re also strangely rewarded for using cover, where health will regenerate quicker, but out in the open where you’re a target you’ll note that your health regeneration will slow to a crawl. For a title that seems to encourage running and gunning, this was a very peculiar design decision.
You’ll pick up different weaponry of course, and occasionally have to solve what could be classified as a puzzle now and then, but for a good 99% of the game you’ll scout an area with your partner, eliminate all enemies by mashing a button, jumping, meleeing the tougher guys, or flipping a switch. Hop into a vehicle that controls rather clumsily. Destroy an opponent’s tank or machine. Take down a boss. Lather, rinse, and repeat, and trust me, you’ll be shampooing for quite some time, as this is no walk in the park length for a game. You’ll need to spend at least a good six to eight hours completing similar objectives over and over again before you’re finally finished with the campaign.
As if banal gameplay weren’t enough, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra employs quite the frustrating caveat – checkpoints mean nothing. If you happen to die after passing one, then guess what you’re about to do? That’s right – you get to start the level over from the beginning. Congratulations.  In my book, this is almost as bad as forcing you to manually save each and every single time you want to save your progress. It works in RPGs and all, but in this day and age when you need to quit, you need to quit, and reaching certain measurements of progress within a game should equate to the saving of all you’ve accomplished thus far. Perhaps leaving you without a true checkpoint is a test to see if you’re ready to become a REAL member of the Joes.
The game does offer co-op play, but only offline. That’s a smooth move, as multiplayer would draw in more buyers and potential players for those who can’t conveniently invite over all their friends into the same room, and seems a very backward decision. Who wants to be forced into playing a game with only the friends that you have met in your immediate vicinity.


When it’s all said and done, you’ll be wishing you had chosen another game to invest your time and attention into. Heck, even picking up one of the Harry Potter movie tie-in games would be a better idea than this half-baked diversion. Had it been debuted on Xbox Live at a more affordable price and spruced up with a bit more personality and less austere gameplay demands, I may have been able to recommend it. Unfortunately, if you purchase this game you’ll most definitey be wasting your money. Now you know. Avoiding this game is only half the battle.

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