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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra pack shot
Genre:Third Person Arcade Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.gijoe.ea.com/
Release Date:August 7th, 2009 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
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Oh joy, another shameless cash-in to another big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, but unlike the last tie-in I reviewed - Xmen Origins: Wolverine - this is a return to the standard format for all film tie-in atrocities; it's cheap, repetitive, overpriced and utterly, utterly pointless.

When I was a child the GI Joe TV show had come and gone, and all I remember is that it was American in origin and that the action figures spawned by the series were almost completely poseable and well-suited as pilots for the host of outlandish military vehicles I was producing with my Knex.

Now it seems some oddball director has decided to turn the venerable TV show into a movie, bringing with it all the hammy quotes and characters which made the TV show what it was.

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And so, in a shameless attempt to cash in on Joe-mania, we come to GI Joe: The Rise of COBRA. A thoroughly uninspiring third-person shooter which is poor in just about every aspect of modern gaming.

First off, the plot. While the title of the game is 'The Rise of Cobra' it seems to me that the heavily-armed and organised troops of the terrorist organisation have already 'risen'. Despite this the game manages to spin a rubbish story running alongside the events of the film and stretching shortly afterwards.

The gameplay is your standard isometric third person shooter, and features online or offline co-op mode (though finding someone who is actually online is impossible, as no one seems to have bought it- no surprise there.) The two Joes on screen have to run around, taking cover and blasting at a never-ending stream of Cobra troops, vehicles and huge bosses with unlimited ammo, power-ups such as grenades and bombs and a set of rubbish martial arts moves.

The team are also wearing an 'accelerator suit'- body armour which activates once you have blasted enough stupid Cobra soldiers and gives you the ability to run faster, punch harder, and fire from special weapons for a short time.

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The 'Joes' available as playable characters match those in the movie, TV show and assorted merchandising, stretching from assault 'Joes' such as Duke, to stealthy Scarlett and heavy weapons man 'Heavy Duty'.

The various support staff of the Joe team also make an appearance, along with the random ninja who seem to accompany the group.

Lots of other 'Joes' can be unlocked by completing mission objectives or bonus missions, and players can switch between the Joes on the fly using teleportation booths, ideal as some doors can only be opened by a certain Joe.

Also available are a variety of different vehicles, which are oddly-proportioned when compared with the Joes themselves.

Graphically the game screams 'arcade download', and that is what this game should be. If it was a simple arcade game to be bought of Xbox Live Arcade I would perhaps be a little more forgiving, but as the developers want you to pay full price for the game, no such kindness will be forthcoming.

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The graphics are poor, flat and featureless. The Joes themselves are dull sprites, facing off against wave after wave of faceless, dull Cobra soldiers, some who come with energy shields and other special weapons which require almost no thought to destroy.

The game is also full of graphical bugs, including dodgy textures, poor mapping and a horrendous camera which flat-out refuses to present the action from a clear perspective, often leaving me shooting at an enemy off-screen, a problem further exasperated by the aiming system, which uses the right analogue stick to switch between targets and often chooses the wrong one no matter how many times you drag the reticule back on target.

The sound design is also terrible. The voice actors are hammy and sound like they were phoned-in, the script is poor and completely lacking in any kind of serious tone, and the enemy soldiers continually repeat the same catchphrases when being shot at, such as "Here come the Joes", an annoying trait only eclipsed by "Aieeeee" when they die- printed to hilarious effect across the bottom of the screen in subtitles.

The weapons sound tinny and weak and have an interesting bug of occasionally being completely silent for minutes on end- Heavy Duty's vulcan cannon is particularity poor- a massive gatling gun should sound like the devil incarnate, but in reality is a bit of a wet squib.

The constant GI Joe catchphrases are also a source of irritation- "Yo Joe" every two minutes, "Go Joe" every ten seconds and "Yoooooooooo JOE!" whenever the accelerator suits are activated- it's just a shame the suits are bought online using the same button as you use to climb into vehicles or operate wall panels, resulting in a waste of one of the more interesting aspects of the game.


Overall GI Joe is a terrible piece of game design. If it was released as a Live Arcade game it might have been acceptable, but such shoddy workmanship should not be allowed as a full-price game. This is one for huge fans of the TV show only, as its large range of GI Joe characters is sure to please the GI Joe purist. All others should avoid this or risk insanity. Well now you know- and knowing is half the battle.

The bottom line
2.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Very easy
  • Large variety of authentic GI Joe characters
  • Easy pick-up-and-play blasting

Not so good stuff

  • Very easy
  • Should be an arcade game- overpriced
  • Dodgy graphics, plot and gameplay
  • "Yoooooooo JOE!"

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