G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review
After seeing the G.I. Joe movie a few weeks ago, I was super excited to play the games based on the stupid, yet extremely exciting and fun film. Before I made it to the Nintendo DS version, I reviewed this game's big brother, also called G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, for the Xbox 360 and PS3. At first, the game felt a lot like a semi-3D throwback to older shooters like Contra and I was all about it. After only a little bit, I came to see the game for what it was - a very ugly and very, very lazy movie-to-game cash-in that just plain sucked. You can check out that review here.
I'm happy to report that the Nintendo DS version is an entirely different experience from the ground up, and it is a much better game for it. And while it is the only decent game with the words "The Rise of Cobra" on the box, one major flaw keeps it from being all it could have been.
In case you didn't take the time to read my review of the other versions of this game, I'll bring you up to speed. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra acts as a sort of sequel to the film of the same name, detailing G.I. Joe's fight against the emerging Cobra force. The story isn't expanded much beyond what I've told you, and there are some puzzling inconsistencies between the film and the game (I won't ruin it, but if you see the movie and play the game, you'll know exactly what I'm referring to), but it really shouldn't matter too much if you enjoy the gameplay… it's too bad you won't.
All the other versions of G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, as I mentioned, were third person shooters with a simple, old school flair that wore thin quickly. The DS version, too, embraces a tried and true style of gaming's yesteryear – that of a top down shooter. I was instantly reminded of SNES games like Contra III: The Alien Wars (only the top down levels, though) and Smash TV when I began this adventure, and I can't say that was a bad thing. What is bad, though, is that those two 15+-year-old games are probably more graphically advanced than this one. G.I. Joe is, like its console big brothers, almost impossible to look at. Static character portraits tell the "story" with bland speech bubbles, enemies look almost identical to one another, environments are bland and even the Joes themselves look too similar ("That one must be Heavy Duty because he's black. I think."). Just like I said, this wouldn't have been an issue if the gameplay were any good.
And so we come to the gameplay. Like the game's console big brother, it seems great at first. The tragedy of the DS version, though, is that the gameplay REMAINS good throughout, but for one thing – you are CONSTANTLY interrupted by text on the DS' bottom screen from fellow Joes - text that pauses the action on the top screen. It basically plays out like this: You shoot a few bad guys, get into the groove and – SCREECH – the game pauses and you must scroll through boring text (coupled with a hideous character portrait) to get back to the action. This happens over and over throughout the game, and it begins to feel like you are only really "playing" in 20-30 second spurts. For all the complaining I do about random encounters in RPGs, this constant breaking off of the action is similar, but worse because random encounters encourage at least a little input from the player; this is more like having a defective and out of control pause button with a mind of its own. What hopes I had for this game were dashed when this constant interruption put it's foot in the experience's back and kicked it down the quality stairs. A vivid, violent image to be sure, but a very accurate way to describe this game's rise and fall from grace.
If, for some reason, you NEED a game based on the G.I. Joe film, this is the one to get. Don't take that as a ringing endorsement; this game is almost as ugly and unpolished as it's console counterparts. It just happens to be the lesser of the five or six evils. Beware: The constant pausing and ensuing frustration may turn your DS system from a great handheld to an unintentional boomerang. You've been warned.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 41%.