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

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If there is one well known fact in the gaming world, it is this:
A movie tie-in does not a great game make.

Yet time and time again publishers and developers succumb (against their better judgement) to that sizeable chunk of money offered up by film makers to create an interactive accompaniment to their latest blockbuster hit. And 9 out of 10 times the end result is a buggy, graphically retarded cross-console bastard of a game. And with a resounding ‘YO JOE!’ G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra crashes head first into the 9 out of 10 majority camp with a glitchy, pixellated mess of what could have been an amusing and (gasp) enjoyable third person shooter.

There are so many problems with this game that it may be easier to start on the positives before moving on to such a gargantuan list of faults. So here we go.

Yo Joe!

There is something enjoyable about this game, inexplicable and confusingly enough it is just…well…fun. I managed to soldier (note: this is a pun) through the game in a couple of days without losing my mind completely. Admittedly I couldn’t play more than a few levels without wanting to find some action figures to dismantle, but for those few levels I didn’t HATE the game.

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Oh yes, it’s a toy tie-in AS WELL as a movie tie-in.

Yo Joe!

Killing enemies is satisfying to a point. Dropping one of the harder creatures or turrets does bring a small sense of achievement, and staying alive long enough to amass a large point score will mean that your efforts are rewarded with tokens to use to purchase new characters. The Rise Of Cobra doesn’t skimp on content, with a myriad of secret characters to unlock and various bits of media and lore to find in each level. If you really want to complete this game fully, aside from being insane you will have to have a lot of spare time (and patience) on your hands.

The co-op feature is fun, if you discount the fact that you cannot move more than five metres in front of your pal before being stopped by an invisible wall. Running forwards to melee enemies and being stopped by such an obstacle is annoying if all your friend is doing is giving you covering fire from a distance. It seems it has to be either dual melee or dual gunfire.

And that’s about all for the positives. Now for the low points!

Yo Joe!

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For a start, the graphics are appalling. Even in HD this game looks like a Wii port at best, a PS2 port at worst. The levels are split up into four stereotypes of action gaming: Forest, snow, desert and…erm…snow again. After a while, even with the addition of interior bases, everything begins to look the bloody same. And everything is SO SMALL! Your characters are tiny on screen, and the enemies are sometimes tiny blips, and at most an inch or two high on your screen.

This problem is augmented with one of the WORST cameras I have ever had the displeasure to have to use. If anyone has ever played Super Mario 64, imagine that, but without the ability to correct the angle from which you view your avatars. There were many times where I wasn’t even able to see my own character on screen, never mind the enemies. It is completely unresponsive to player movement and seems to work on rails, in tandem with the progression of the level. But sometimes it gets confused, and you will often find yourself looking at an unimportant wall whilst being blasted at range by turrets and enemies you can’t even see.

When you do have them in your sights, you are forced to use the dire auto-targeting system (which is almost as useless as the camera is). Even with six or seven enemies on screen it will almost certainly instead focus your aim on a box that does nothing aside from give you a few thousand bonus points. While you CAN switch through targets with a push of the right control stick, the fact it prioritises points over enemies means in a hectic fire fight means you have a very high chance of meeting an unfair doom.

Yo Joe!

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The developers have also tried to weld a Gears Of War style cover and health regeneration system into gameplay. This falls on its face at the first hurdle – the actual mechanics. Your health is wildly unpredictable, hanging on its last portion for ages under sustained fire one minute, and plummeting from 100% to dead after a few hits the next. And when you get behind cover, there is no guarantee that it will regenerate your strength after one second or ten. Oh, and you can still get hit when behind cover. AND your cover can be blown up ridiculously easily, leaving you to roll around the screen like a drunken gymnast in an attempt to avoid enemy fire.

So, how else can you combat the evil forces of Cobra? Why not get into a vehicle, and spend a few minutes aimlessly blowing stuff up whilst struggling against appalling tank/enemy collision detection and movement debilitating glitches? Yes, that sounds like fun!

Yo Joe!

Seriously though, why allow a vehicle physics system this buggy and poor into a completed game? I have driven full pelt into an enemy without them receiving damage, and only after reversing over them at 5mph was I rewarded with their deaths and yet more points. That was only after I spent ten minutes trying in vain to move my military hardware up a perfectly normal slope in order to run them over. Call this advanced technology? Your tank, APC or buggy will struggle over anything more than a molehill, and will sometimes stop moving completely for no reason at all! But never fear, sooner or later the camera will rotate to face the opposite direction so you won’t be able to see where you were going anyway!

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What else is there? Oh so much! The unlockable characters, while numerous, are horribly bland and definitely do not justify the efforts taken to purchase them. Three of the characters (the “Ninja” trio) share the same basic moves with just a simple skin change to differentiate them. The rest of the Commando units are too weak to deal with the harder characters, and even the Combat Soldiers struggle to fight Cobra’s tank and mech army. This leaves about four usable heavy weapons characters, with the rest being pure chaff. Special attacks are a mixed bag, with the heavy characters coming off best yet again.

The dialogue is hateful and contrived; “Yo Joe!” is repeated endlessly, hence my brainwashed inclusion of the phrase in this review. The pew pew guns quickly get annoying, and the enemies seem to have the ability to talk from beyond the grave, with repetitive sound bites being uttered long after their physical forms have met their fate at the hands of your aforementioned weapons.

The mini-boss battles are tedious and the actual bosses themselves all have one routine of attack/hide while you shoot cannon fodder. This is repeated endlessly in a pathetic attempt to add length to an encounter. After they are defeated, the thousands of bullets you planted into them mystically disappear as you drag them off to a kiddy-friendly “bad guy go to jail” ending.

Yo Joe!

Or maybe “No Joe!” as this game carries a hefty 16+ rating, alienating a large portion of a potential audience. It’s hard to imagine who EA is targeting with this game as anyone with half a brain or at least a double-figure age will struggle not to notice the obvious flaws of The Rise Of Cobra. This isn’t to say that even kids would enjoy this game either, as umpteen unfair deaths are enough to frustrate even the most easily-placated preteens.

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Harking back to the start of this review (before I went on a critical rampage), G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is NOT unplayable. It’s just bad. It’s a bad game. It’s lazy and so far away from polished, from unpolished, from acceptable. It’s riddled with bugs and glitches, faults and flaws. It’s almost charmingly awful, and I suppose that’s its only rescuing point. You KNOW its crap but you play it, insulting it as you go. You look past the fact you can shoot through a wall to hit a bonus box yet not shoot the massive robot pounding missiles into your face from three feet away. You look past the fact that your tank just stalled on a tiny rock when you just drove straight through a massive concrete wall. You can ALMOST look past the fact that you can’t see anything on your screen right now aside from a few rocks and a blown up generator.

Oh, the puzzles suck too. There is only one theme, and it consists of blowing something up to get something to unlock. Then repeat, ad nauseum.

Who am I kidding? I’ve tried, but this game is just rubbish. Utter crap. Another steaming pile of movie-based compost to throw on the pile. Avoid this game like your brain depended on it.

2/10