G I Joe Rise of the Cobra review

If you saved up enough dollars to get to the cinema this summer you may have been lucky enough to catch the sexed-up big screen adaptation of classic cartoon G.I. Jo. If you enjoyed the movie then you might be tempted to flirt with G. I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra for Wii. The game continues on from the story of the movie, this is a plus point as most movie tie-ins simply attempt to relive the story of the film while shoe-horning in “Collect the Bugs” missions.

As the adventures spill out onto the Wii, you will take control of sixteen characters from the franchise (12 Joes and 4 Cobras) as you deal with the aftermath of the film’s story. You will travel the world, including Egypt, a rainforest and the North Pole, in the pursuit of justice and really big explosions.

I think we all know by now that graphics have never been the Wii’s strength, and normally that’s not a problem. But the most striking thing that leaps out of Rise of the Cobra is the rather amateur look to the game. The words ‘PS1 era’ leap up the throat and promise to make a full assault on the teeth. That might seem a bit harsh as some of the environments look pretty in a basic kind of way, but the whole style comes across as fairly old school. It’s a run ‘n’ gun shooter in a 3D environment, like a modern Ikari Warriors or Commando or something. It’s not all 20th Century though – like in Halo, you can hop into tanks and punish your enemies, and like Gears of War, you can take cover and roll around like you’re some kind of bloody hedgehog. Of course, neither of these elements are incorporated or used as creatively as they are in the games the ideas originally come from.

While G. I. Joe makes some attempts to be interesting, the action stays at a consistent flatline through the hours of warfare available. The camera, which thinks that it’s being helpful by flying around like a Zelda fairy, can trip you up at times, making the vehicles troublesome to drive and setting you up for attacks from Cobra soldiers.

I could criticise G. I. Joe for a lack of originality, but there are so many war games piling up these days, all of them treading on each other’s toes and pick-pocketing ideas, that picking this one out is unfair. The problem here is not a lack of new ideas; what did you expect from a movie tie-in? It’s the poor implementation of the ideas that it has. I wouldn’t have cared if Double Helix Games had given us a cartoony clone of Gears of War if only they had managed to code the ‘cover’ element properly. The same applies to Halo, or CoD, or anything else that they looked at for inspiration. As it is, the controls are unwell and inconsistent, and even something as simple as the auto-aiming system is buggy and doesn’t help you out in the blur of battle. Very little works, and when it does, the outcome is average.

The story, if such things interest you, plods along via passable voice acting. I can’t see anyone really being “into” G. I. Joe (or Action Force, for that matter) enough to buy this game based on a story that serves as little more than an excuse for a string of missions and has no bearing on the events of the movie or the franchise in general. The character sprites are small and poor, and the action might hold the interest of a young teenager, if he was actually into the film and knew the characters’ names off by heart. A lowly 4 out of 10 for this one.

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