G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review

By Russ Fischer - Posted Aug 04, 2009

If the DS version of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra quickly generates that old "quickie licensed movie game" feeling, trust your gut. If you have that feeling in the game's first few minutes, you'll have it at the end, too.

The Pros
  • Has more old-school Joe flavor than expected
  • Good character roster
  • Snake Eyes is (predictably) a superior warrior
The Cons
  • Feels rough and unfinished
  • Lackluster controls
  • Simplistic gameplay

GI Joe: The Rise of CobraIf the DS version of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra quickly generates that old “quickie licensed movie game” feeling, trust your gut. If you have that feeling in the game’s first few minutes, you'll have it at the end, too. Jumping off from the end of the blockbuster film storyline, Rise of Cobra has the Joes going after rogue elements of the high-tech M.A.R.S. weapons company. The action is pure top-down arcade, with a lot of button-mashing shooting and swordplay. Despite boasts that it was built from the ground up for the DS, however, it all feels more like a web Flash game than a serious portable effort.

You'll have a choice between a few different Joe characters like Duke, Scarlett and Snake Eyes, among others. (Cobra characters are also playable for the multiplayer game.) When Snake Eyes is an option, however, it's difficult to imagine why you'd choose anyone else. Fast swords are a great replacement for guns, especially when the blades carried by the silent ninja are strong enough to chop up buildings (No joke).

Gauntlet, Hasbro Style

Think of The Rise of Cobra as a single-player version of Gauntlet, re-skinned with appropriate costumes. There are twisty corridors to explore and enemy monster closets to blow up. But Gauntlet never interrupted the action so often with inane bursts of dialogue from General Hawk and Breaker. Just as you're about to crown another M.A.R.S. goon with a hollow point, Hawk breaks in, again, pausing the game.

Maybe he's doing you a favor by trying to break the action. Even with quite a few characters and sizable maps, the game feels more like a pitch than a finished project. You'll get hung up on bits of the environment all the time, for one. And the screen feels too small for the action; as enemy forces get thick you'll often be attacked from off-screen. Not that the AI is ever very impressive. Most of the time you'll just have to worry about being shot down when there are more than three enemies nearby. On their own these M.A.R.S. agents are fluff.

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Doesn’t the DS Have a Touch Screen?

GI Joe: The Rise of CobraOccasionally you'll be able to jump into a vehicle, but don't expect a big control improvement. Tanks, for example handle just like, well, tanks. GI Joe also fails to really leverage the abilities of the DS. Aside from offering co-op play, you won't see the game taking advantage of the hardware's unique features. The touch screen, for example, is either a map readout or a communications center, but neither function is touch-based.

Yo, Joe!

The primary upside here is likely that the script and characters feel more like the old TV animation and comics than the new movie. Yes, some modern Accelerator Suits are hidden here and there, and the character designs are all movie-based, but the dialogue is full of classic “yo Joe!” stylings and references. Does that make it any more worthwhile in the long run? Not at all.