G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra PS3, Xbox 360 Review

A modern G.I. Joe video game has eluded fans of Hasbro’s Real American Hero property for as long as a feature film. It took Paramount’s new G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie to warrant a game’s development on PS3, Xbox 360 and other platforms for marketing tie-in purposes, but there is actually more to this simplistic shooter than meets the eye.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra follows an original story that picks up shortly after where the film leaves off. The Joes, having met their new adversaries in battle and captured The Baroness, are pursuing the newly formed mysterious Cobra organization around the globe from their mobile command base. Chapters are broken into specific plots derived from the film’s large action sequences, the 1980s cartoon (M.A.S.S. Device) and the comic book run. The design cleverly offers a taste of nostalgia for most anyone whom has crossed the G.I. Joe brand at some point in their life while marketing the new film and character incarnations complete with corny and rigid dialogue.

Combating Cobra has always been a team effort and the developers have wisely made sure to keep this idea intact in the game. There are always two personally selected Joe characters fighting cooperatively, either both controlled by human players or the second player by a CPU companion. New Joes are unlocked as the campaign unfolds which expands the team and offers a greater selection of playable Joes with unique traits – or unlockable Cobra characters – to select from.

Fighting Cobra requires a straightforward run-and-gun approach with sporadic ducking behind cover when health becomes a concern. See Cobra soldier, shoot Cobra soldier then move on to next area. When Cobra breaks out the big cannons, robotic guns and boss characters and vehicles, each Joe has a limited duration secondary weapon – such as Duke’s grenades – and the ability to charge up and use the Accelerator Suit as seen the film while the old school G.I. Joe anthem blares. Joe fans will appreciate the classic nod, kids will love the sped-up Accelerator suit, and everyone will catch on to the casual control scheme and auto-targeting in a pre-controlled camera environment regardless of their gaming skills coming in.

Stripping down Rise of Cobra’s difficulty to reach a broad audience – much like the film sticks to the basics for mass appeal — makes for an especially short gaming experience for even lightly seasoned players, especially if playing with a friend. There are collectibles to find that unlock file cards and artwork, but locating them is not off the beaten path enough to dramatically extend the game. That honor goes to the seemingly infinite number of load screens frequent enough to be commercial interruptions.

Regardless of one’s gaming prowess, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra will appeal most to fans of the brand and deep lore. You can download countless games off Xbox Live Marketplace or the Playstation Network to shoot waves upon waves of bad guys and not have to worry about controlling the camera or critique cutting edge graphics. But what you cannot do there is wonder what recognizable or “fanboy” moment lurks around the next corner, such as a helicopter dropping a drivable “Snowcat” vehicle at your feet. To non-fans it is just a part of the game. To those who know the history, this iconic vehicle in playable form is a dream come true that ignites a fire to see what other Easter Eggs are abound.

After all, knowing is half the battle.

– Dan Bradley

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