Is it just me or do developers or movie directors think that when a movie is coming out, it needs to be accompanied by a game to help with its release? Practically every movie released these days has a game chucked in to try and produce some sort of wow factor about the movie. I don't mind when movie-game tie-ins work when the developers put a lot of effort into a game, but when it becomes blatant that the sole purpose of the game is to try and get more money out of the consumers, it's rather annoying and frustrating. G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra is a perfect example of such a title that may fall into this category.
From the outset you can see that there hasn't been a lot of effort put into the game. Either that or a few weeks before the movie's release they - being the movie peeps - forgot to conjure up a game to accompany the movie. EA were called in by what looks like short notice.
If you have watched the movie then the storyline unsurprisingly follows a similar plot. You represent the Joes and you have to destroy the Cobras, eventually defeating the Cobra Commander. With no other option than to start some missions you fire straight into the action. In this third person based shooter, you and one other Joe take on each and every, may I mention very repetitive, mission. Throughout the game you can unlock more Joes, and once you have more than 3 Joes in your roster you can select which 2 Joes you want to utilise for each mission, as each Joe has different skills. Some are heavy weapon specialists, some Joes are combat soldiers and some are commando's who love to get up close and personal with the enemies. You can play as every Joe found in the movie, which includes Duke, Ripcord and Scarlet.
When a game doesn’t really have much replayability, the best thing to include is a point scoring system where you can replay that mission to obtain a higher score. Well this is where GI Joe shines. Each mission is points based, in which you can gain a higher score by killing and destroying all enemies that cross your path. You can also pick up and/or shoot points boxes that are scattered around the missions; these add to the total value of points. The bad side of the missions however is that each mission seems almost identical. Move around, shoot bad guys, destroy some structures and then progress to the next mission to do the exact same again. The game is also too easy, even though there are 3 difficulty levels. This doesn't help the repetition process as you fire through the mission. After around 3 or 4 missions at any given time it becomes so 'meh' you will want to play another game.
Throughout the game you are flown to many different locations. Take your Joes through Artic, Desert and Jungle missions as you battle against the Cobra. However, you soon realise that these new locations are basically re-skinned differently. Each mission is split into different checkpoints, however none of which can be used as save points. Die throughout any mission while playing on the harder game difficulties will result in you having to repeat the whole mission again from the start. Although the checkpoints allow you to see your highscore in full, I didn't see the point in the checkpoints when it doesn't provide a save point? The whole feel of the game just doesn't help with the repetitive nature of each mission either.
The basics of the gameplay are simple and very easy to pick up and play, which is great for any novice. To kill an enemy you just hold down 'RT' which fires a constant flow of unlimited ammunition to your nearest opponent or destructible building. To avoid the enemy onslaught you just move around the particular area using the left stick. If you are close to an enemy you can use the 'X' button to use the limited melee attacks. Once you have killed enough enemies or gained enough points you can unlock the Joe's special Accelerator Suit by simply pressing ‘Y’. This suit temporarily boosts a Joe's speed and combat skills, as well as providing your Joe with invincibility. The Joes also get excited and yell, YO JOE, and a cheesy background music begins to play every time you use the suit. This only adds to the arcade feel of the game, and to be honest, it's a bit like a 3D human version of Geometry Wars. You would think that wouldn't make it a bad thing, but when you attach an RRP price of £34.99 to it, it becomes a very bad thing.
Cheesy single player aside, the only other alternative is to jump in with another offline friend and play the same missions with the exact same problems. This is poor as nowadays every game, especially one with an offline co-op feature, should have Xbox LIVE access. Anyway, both players team-up to complete the missions, but at the same time try to outdo your friend's score. This makes it a little bit more fun, however there always seem to be something negative with every good aspect of the game - the co-op camera is terrible. I mean, it’s terrible in single player as you can’t manually change the camera view, however when two players are playing, it becomes invisible wall central which is a big no no.
Unfortunately that's all there is to it. As I have mentioned, everything about the game is arcade-esque. But with the way the quality of arcade games has risen on the marketplace, it eludes me as to why EA didn't have the brains or ambition to release this game as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. I would quite happily pay 1200MS Points for this human version of Geo Wars. The graphics are nothing special, if not below that found in arcade titles like Battlefield 1943, so that wouldn't have been a problem. They could have shortened the number of missions, which may have avoided the game feeling very repetitive, and if it was a success, released some more as downloadable content. However they didn't do any of the above, so instead, we are left with a game that is disappointing. I would strongly advise that if you are wanting to play some G.I. Joe, because you liked the movie, just rent it. It’s a fraction of the price and you get what you pay for this way.
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