Oh man, looking at the absolute shit-kicking that the PS3/Xbox 360 versions are getting across the internet left me with a feeling of absolute dread when I clasped my hands on the NDS box. I had really low expectations for this game after all that doom and gloom. Luckily the NDS edition JUST exceeds my expectations – just!
As COBRA unleashes its deadliest plot yet, the G.I. JOE Team is counting on you and your hand-picked team of heroes to lead the counterattack. Every mission is critical and so is every G.I. JOE character. Picking up where the Paramount Pictures live action film leaves off, G.I. JOE The Rise of Cobra is an accessible third person action-arcade shooter that allows players to recreate and relive the greatestmoments from the film, cartoon series and action toy line. Unique top-down arcade shooter, built from the ground up specifically for the Nintendo DS. Choose from six G.I. JOE characters and five COBRA characters. More than 20 missions across four environments, plus playable vehicles. Create your own G.I. JOE vs. COBRA battles with up to 4 players (via wireless play).
Now, if like me, you knew very little about G.I. Joe then this wont exactly fill in the blanks for you. For instance I thought G.I. Joe was actually a person… Yeah I know… whatever laugh it up!
Graphically this game is Fugly! Even by the limited NDS standards this game is a dog (WOOF!). We are talking at least an 8 pinter before you would… I think you get my point! The game tries to employ a top down 3D environment to represent the environments you play in. The issue really is that the textures are stretched like mad, the characters are very, very blocky and the whole thing just looks so messy. I admire the effort or trying to make thegame in this format but it just does not look good. Think Killzone : Liberation on the PSP but just cut the screen in half, smear it with even amounts of lard and grit and the drop the resolution by about 120% – Oh and then stand 12Ft away from it. The Cut Scenesalso poorly constructed, taking the option of using backdrops rendered in the ingame 3D engine and then laying speech bubbles and poorly digitised versions of the film cast over the top. Oh and if someone was not in the movie they use a hand drawn image instead – WTF?
OK, so I have laid pretty damn hard in to the games graphics and with good reason I feel. So let us move on to the Sound. Sound wise the game just manages to make the cut. The in game squeals and shouts as you take down the enemy are fairly pitiful and grate easily. The saving grace is the great soundtrack, lifted in part form the movie and the really over the top sounds of the weapons and explosions. The simplest of machine guns sounds like it could cause some serious damage to the rear-end of a tank! Unleashing the grenades and the special attacks also furnishes you with a cacophony of mayhemic sounds. All together exactly what you would want from a shooter of this nature.
So graphics = piss poor, sound = just about OK, but how does the game play. Is it worth my £25. Man that is a toughie. Is it worth £25.. we will address that at the end I think. Is it fun to play? Sure, in a sorta busted way. You take control of your choosen character there are 4 to choose from at the start but you unlock another 2 after 6 missions. As you choose your character you are then presented with a short mission overview by the heads of the Joe and then sent on your merry way to clear the Deserts, Snow drifts and jungles of the world of COBRA scum. The game plays like a modern day love child of Ikari warriors and Gauntlet. As you run and gun from the top down perspective your fallen enemies from small Joe shields. Also, as you rack up kills you add to your total kill count. As this hits certain levels your character levels-up. In real terms this means they get an improvement to the main stat groups Shiled, Weapon, Speed etc. Another neat touch is that all characters have their own secondary weapon like grenades, ninja swords etc that can be unleashed at regular internvals as the bar fills up. Add to this another bar that fills as you wade through the enemy. This bar allows you to use the soldiers unique ability, things like relenteless and destructive fire etc. These are great little tricks that can really get you out of a jam.
An unfortunate issue with the whole game play, as you make your way from point A to point B, is that the action is constantly interrupted with dialogue popping up on the lower screen. Almost every time this pops up the game pauses and you have to wait for the text to dribble across the speech boxes and then thump A. More often than not these boxes pop up right in the middle of a huge firefight. It makes thedreary story even less worthwhile. To be honest after about level 8 I just kept thumping SELECT to skip the text as it was just ruining the game. Another issue with these text boxes is that, on the odd occasion it does not stop gameplay, obscure the minimap on the bottom touch screen (the ONLY use for he touch screen I might add!). This means you are getting updates to go and do A in location Z but you have no way of knowing where Z is as the bloody thing is obscured for several moments whilst the speech clears out so frustrating.
Add to those frustrations the fact that the shitty graphics have been coupled with wonky collision detection that can leave you stopped still whilst walking around a sand bank or fence when there is clearly loads of room to get by.
The game does feature a multi-player component. You and upto 3 others can take part in 3 game modes, Team Battle, Warhead and Defend The Base. Warhead is a basic capture the flag title and works well. Defend the Base pits 2 against 2 as one tries to destroy objectives and the others try and defend them. The wireless worked well and the game suffered less from the issues that drag down the single player game ie no damn pop-ups! Longevity wise the main campaign stretches out for a fair amount of time coming in at around 5 or 6 hours of play. Add to that the ability to take on each level using 1 of 6 characters and you can stretch things out for sure.
OK so I have griefed on G.I. Joe a whole lot, but the score still places it as an OK game why? Well when all is said and done, and the game is working at its best it is great fun. Shooting the living daylights out of horde after horde of COBRA grunts is great. Most of the boss fights are engaging and fun to do. The top down nature works well and each level is a fairlly bite sized affair leaving this a great little title if you want to just blast stuff for 10 minutes whilst waiting for a bus or sitting on your throne. Also, I am not the target demographic for this title. Kids around the movies target age will lap it up – god knows they need something after the drudge of the PS3 / Xbox 360 versions. I am sure if your nuts about the franchise and loved the movie you will get enjoyment out of this title – just be prepared to get frustrated with the niggles and lament how much better it could have been if they had sorted the graphics and collision issues.