G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Double Helix
4 MB to Save Game
To coincide with the release of the big screen movie, Electronic Arts releases G.I. Joe: The The Rise of Cobra for the Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, DS and PSP. I was lucky enough, or unlucky depending on how you look at it, to review the Xbox 360 version of the game. G.I. Joe has come a long way since I was a kid; yet, I am surprised it has taken this long (45-years) for the franchise to hit the big screen. In any event, with every summer block buster we generally get a game to go along with it. Having spent the last 3-days playing the game I must say The Rise of Cobra does have many enjoyable moments. That being said, G.I. Joe: The The Rise of Cobra is also plagued with numerous issues and lacks big time in the depth department.
Overall, the visuals in The Rise of Cobra are a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand some of the games environments, including the many destructible objects, are decent looking while the explosions and weapon effects are also well done. The game runs fairly smoothly and you do get some good variety with regards to the games enemies (COBRA). On the other hand the G.I. Joe characters lack detail and are not nearly as polished as they should be. Granted your favourite Joes are easily recognizable, but the facial features appear generic and the even look horrendous at times. I also noted that the outfits do not appear as sharp as they could be.
Another major issue is that the game’s cut scenes appear muddy, soft, and blurred. It is almost as if the developers wanted to use the same cut scene for all major consoles and in doing so they had to scale back the visuals for the lowest common denominator. In many cases the cut scenes simply appear very last generation. Additionally, the overall presentation of the game is lacklustre and some of the clipping issues really hamper the experience. Whether it be watching your character walk right through a boulder or watching the in-between mission's tech talk, I could not help but think the game could have been much better in terms of the visuals and presentation. At the end the day the visuals in Rise of Cobra are disappointing and come across as rushed and unpolished.
As with the games visuals, the audio also left me a little disappointed. That being said, Rise of Cobra is not a bad sounding game it is just that it could have been better. On a positive note, the game's soundtrack is adequate as the music really gives you the feeling that you are immersed in the big screen movie. As we typically see with games in this genre, the music amps-up as the action becomes more intense and settles down after you have sliced up all the enemies in sight. In some instances the music did seem ill-timed; however for the most part it fits quite well with the game.
The voice work is not the best we have seen in recent years but it adequately does the job. We do not get the voices from the movie, but they do sound very similar to their on-screen counterparts. Most notably, Dennis Quaid's character does sound remarkably similar to the real actor and he does a nice job; albeit Quaid seems slightly miscast for the role in my view. Bottomline, many of the voice actors are good enough, but most are forgettable, cheesy and seem like they are just going through the motions.
The in-game sound effects sound as good as they should but they are nothing spectacular. As an example, Heavy Duty's Machine Gun packed some punch but it just didn't wow me as some other games with weapons have in the past. On the whole I had no concerns with the sound effects and battle noises; I just didn't find myself awestruck.
Picking up where the big screen movie left off, Rise of Cobra is played in the third person and allows players to re-create and relive some of the movies most memorable moments. For the most part the story is irrelevenat and takes a back seat to the in-game action. Following the game’s storyline has no bearing on the gameplay whatsoever, and to be perfectrly honest the story bored me to death as I just thought it provided annoying banter. All you really need to know is the game is a classic case of good versus evil (Joes vs. Cobras).
There is no online multiplayer to speak of so my review will focus on the single player experience alone. There is an offline cooperative mode. The single player mode is played across four environments and there are about 3-5 areas to explore in each environment. There are three difficulty settings: Casual, Advanced and Hardcore. Depending on the level of difficulty the single player experience is rather short and should take you anywhere from 5-8 hours to complete. In my case it was much closer to 5 hours. Considering the game has no multiplayer component and lacks in the depth department, the single player experience is far too short for a game worth over 60 bucks.
The Rise of Cobra does allow you choose from up to 16 playable characters, four of which are unlockable COBRA characters. The characters are not available to you at the start but rather become unlocked as you progress in the game, provided of course you find where the character cards are located throughout the game’s levels. The characters are classified into one of three units. Theyare as follows:
1. Commandos: do well at close range;
2. Heavys: possess extraordinary shooting skills;
3. Combat Soldiers: a balance between the two.
I spent most of my time using Heavys as the game essentially consisted of holding down the trigger and spraying everything in sight. There really isn't much skill involved when playing the game and some of the characters simply lacked the firepower necessary to help clear the Cobra infected areas.
The controls are very basic, and as I just mentioned there really isn't much skill involved when playing the game. You could virtually run around holding down the trigger and get through the majority of the missions. Everyone once in awhile you can activiate your invincibility suit where you can go absolute gang-busters on everything in sight for about 30 seconds. This can be enjoyable but getting the invincible suit powered up takes far too long. There is a melee attack button and dodge button as well, but it is not critical you have a command of these controls in order to proceed in the game.
The game features an auto save system which is pretty good. I liked the fact I did not have to worry about saving the game at certain points. Also, when you die you lose some points and pick up right where you left off and the action does not stop. The screen turns a slight red and everything goes into slo-mo while your character crouches and recovers after only a few seconds. It is great system and great for two player coop as you never have to skip a beat.
The single most frustrating issue I had with the game is the lack of camera control. When playing the game cooperatively with a buddy the lack of camera control is not much of an issue, but when playing solo it really hampers the gameplay experience. Far too often I would be unable to see my surroundings and in a game where exploration is an integral part of play the lack of camera control really sucks. Not to mention it makes for a very linear experience as the camera essentially directs you in certain directions. It is disappointing to say the least.
Another annoyance is the mechanics involved when operating a vehicle. Operating the vehicles is troublesome as you are constantly struggling with the controls. The experience feels very unnatural and unlike any current next generation game out on the market. For instance, if your vehicle is facing south on the screen, you would think you would just need to press the right analog stick up to move the vehicle north. Unfortunately pressing up just moves the vehicle on the screen forward regardless of what direction you are facing. To its credit, the vehicles do a tremendous amount of damage and it’s truly satisfying shredding everything in sight. Nevertheless, controlling the vehicles felt awful. It really makes me wonder if EA had anyone playtest the game as surely the focus groups would have been highly critical of the driving mechanics.
The cooperative gameplay is a plus and it is enjoyable playing the game with your kids or a buddy. It is simple enough so that any 5 or 6 year old will be able to pick up and play. Playing the game alongside someone is truly how the game was meant to be played. The cooperative mode also includes pick up and play ability so that if I am playing the single player experience, someone else can sit down beside me and jump right into the game at any point. The co-op mode is certainly one of the few redeeming qualities of the game.
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