G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is one of this year’s blockbuster summer movie releases, and so it comes as no surprise to find a multitude of videogame adaptations arriving alongside. With the home console versions having received some quite scathing coverage in the online specialist media, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that the videogames aren’t worth the plastic they’ve been printed to. However, all of the criticism that had been levelled at the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra over the past few months has been delivered without many of the press agencies involved actually having played the game.
The Nintendo DS release is markedly different from the home console versions. Acting as a top-down Shooter in the vein of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, or perhaps a modernised Smash TV, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra unfortunately fails to live-up to the grandeur of either. The plot is delivered through short text introductions prior to beginning each level, and incredibly disruptive interruptions during each. As a device for assigning new objectives, the principle functions at it’s most basic and could easily have been implemented better to avoid occurrences of returning to play only to receive an otherwise avoidable barrage of enemy fire.
The player is allowed to choose their favourite character for the majority of the levels, and each is distinctive in their attacks. However, with the limitation of not being able to move while shooting in place, it won’t take long for players to realise that two characters – Snake-Eyes and Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara – are considerably better than the rest of the team. With the majority of the game’s objectives based around navigating the length and breadth of the map presented on the Touch Screen and destroying designated points of interest whilst being attacked by endlessly respawning enemies, being unable to avoid incoming fire while on the assault is a ridiculous design decision. A cover system does exist, but is so irregular and poorly implemented that most players will simply ignore it.
The controls system is predictable and awkward in its execution, with no Touch Screen alternative for movement. Objects on the map often extend far beyond their visual representation, so navigating beyond simple fallen trees or computer monitors can be excessively difficult, and shooting in diagonal directions is not an easy task with the Nintendo DS’s diminutive D-Pad.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’s visual quality is a mixed bag. While the digitised cast are fairly well presented, there is a marked difference between their appearance and that of those which have been drawn specifically for the game, creating a rather disjointed appearance when both appear on-screen side-by-side. The in-game animation is perhaps the most commendable aspect of the entirety of the game, but with each character model represented by just a handful of pixels, this isn’t exactly a redeeming feature.
With the common expectation that videogame adaptations of big budget motion-picture releases will be inferior products, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra isn’t going to be changing public opinion. The fact that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has proved to be a disappointment may well have suggested that the pre-release press was correct, however, that doesn’t necessarily make judging the title before having played it any more palatable. It’s a sad fact that a game devised to appeal to a very large demographic – both children and late 20-somethings fans of the original action figure series – has clearly been given far less attention than it deserves.