Developer: Double Helix (PS3, PS2, 360, Wii, PSP; “Silent Hill: Homecoming”) and Backbone Entertainment (DS; “Death, Jr.: Root Of Evil”)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, DS
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
“G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra” has more problems than it knows what to do with, but still manages to be kind of fun…in a rather low-rent kind of way.
Set up as a sequel to the movie, this third-person shooter lets you (or you and a co-operative friend) play as a pair of Joes who basically run around and shoot things, stopping occasionally to punch them or grab a power-up.
Not surprisingly—given that it’s based as much on the ’80s cartoon as the new movie—the game has a retro feel. In some ways, this plays like that old arcade shooter “Contra,” except you can run up and down, not just left to right. There’s a fixed camera set way above the action, and your primary guns never run out of ammo or need to be reloaded, so you can just hold down the trigger button and let the spray of bullets do all the work.
The problem is, instead of feeling old school, the game just feels old. There are some modern touches—you can duck for cover, and said cover is destructible—but these are only minor additions. As a result, the game just feels like a relic from the original PlayStation era, when games first moved from 2D to 3D but people still made them kind of 2D-ish.
That’s not the only problem: The vehicles have such wonky, awkward driving controls that you’d be better off walking. Except you need the vehicles’ added firepower to survive. There are also cubes you can shoot or touch for extra points, but it’s frustrating when you target them during a shootout with a bad guy. Sure, you can easily switch targets, but in a serious gun battle, a few seconds means the difference between life and death.
And would it have killed the voice actors to show some enthusiasm? Sure, the lines are as cheesy as they were in the old cartoon, but that doesn’t excuse the woman voicing Scarlet from sounding like she’s reading off cue cards.
I could go on, but you get the point: this game is sloppy, poorly designed and deeply flawed. Yet I still found myself enjoying it. Granted, I didn’t pay $60 to review the game, and would’ve been angry—with myself, with the developers, with the publisher, and with anyone named Joe—if I had. Therein lies the rub. Had this been a $10 or $15 game you download off Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Store, it would’ve been a fun, mindless shooter. For $60, you can do better.
Bottom line: Knowing this game isn’t very good is half the battle.