G.I. Joe Preview: The Rise Of Contra

He'll fight for freedom wherever there's trouble, and the E3 show floor is no exception. We went hand-to-hand with EA's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra for the Xbox 360.

What Is It?
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is EA's game adaptation of the film adaptation of the cartoon adaptation of the 80's update to a military doll for boys. It's a scrolling 3D shoot-em up featuring drop-in anytime co-operative multiplayer starring a nicely rounded cast of characters from the film, comics, and toy line.

What We Saw
I played through several levels co-operatively with an EA operative. I played as Duke, while my guide played as red-headed crossbow maven Scarlet.

How Far Along Is It?
The movie is due out on August 7th, and the game needs to be out by then as well, so it's pretty far along.

What Needs Improvement?
Auto-Targeting: You hold down the fire button, and you automatically lock onto the nearest target and fire a constant stream of bullets at them. Once your target is dead, you automatically switch to the next closest enemy or destructible object. You can swap targets, of course, but for the most part you simply dodge the enemy while your magic, never-ending ammo supply takes them out. Some might say it hearkens back to arcade games of old. Others would say it's a boring mechanic that lacks any sort of challenge. I fall into the latter category.

Goofy Animation: The auto-targeting system makes trouble for your character's animation, as they twist about to face whatever you are targeting, even if you've moved past a destructible object you've given up on. It just doesn't feel natural, and it looks completely ridiculous.

Melee Misses: The game features melee attacks, but it really isn't the type of title where they work well. Perhaps it was just the character I was playing, but the clumsy punches I threw mostly failed to land, and when they did they didn't feel as if they were doing much. Holding down the melee button charges an attack that can send enemies flying, but trying that in the middle of a firefight got me killed more than a couple times.

What Should Stay The Same?
Fan Service: It's obvious that the developers have a strong understanding of the history of the franchise, and they're cramming the game chock full of G.I. Joe goodness. It might not be enough to excuse the game play as it stands, but it could at least make the game worthwhile to collectors and enthusiasts.

Final Thoughts
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is essentially a clumsy 3D Contra game with G.I. Joe characters, right down to the destructible objects that drop medals when you shot them. I'd daresay that if you brought someone to the game without telling them what it was, covering up the story references, they'd assume that's exactly what this was. I'm not sure what I would want out of a G.I. Joe video game, but I'm pretty sure this isn't quite it.