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Yo Joe? More like: Oh no, G.I. Joe game impressions


EA is talking up its first G.I. Joe game, a movie spin-off, as "cross-generational." It's so easy to control that even "mom" can play. Which means, moms -- if you're reading -- not only will you be subjected to chaperoning a mission to the local theater to suffer through the G.I. Joe film adaptation this summer, you also may be expected to idle away your weekends with the game. Let's hope it's a short one.

G.I. Joe: The Game plays as any generic third-person shooter, with the bonus of the aforementioned base layer Mom Controls®. Literally, all that is needed to proceed is the left thumb steering the on-screen character and the right index finger, locked down on the designated shooting button -- just keep on holding it and the game will automatically target a new enemy once the current one has absorbed too many laser blasts and disappears into the well known in-game ether. Of course, "hardcore" gamers will find melee and character-exclusive secondary attacks, along with a rolling dodge and cover mechanic mapped to their controllers.

EA is throwing out some big-name inspirations for its game: Contra, Ikari Warriors and Ikaruga. We suppose you could consider G.I. Joe as a like-designed title in so far as it is built as an "arcade" throwback, with high scores being the ultimate reward. Actually, the ultimate reward is unlocking all twelve playable characters -- unlocking characters requires score points, though. Scoring is linked directly to difficulty setting and one's play. Dying, for example, decreases one's overall score, but, on the lowest difficulty setting, will not produce further setbacks. Think of this as a "no fail" setting -- you know, the one mom can play.

G.I. Joe is much the brainless, hangover game you may plod through with a buddy on a late-rising Sunday afternoon. That buddy needs to be present -- like, next-to-you-on-the-couch present -- since EA hasn't confirmed online co-op (and seemed somewhat doubtful that it would include that feature in the final version). The entire game is played as a duo of Joes, with opportunities to swap characters from time to time. As a single player, one is able to switch, on the fly, between the two on-screen Joes. There's even a "Yo Joe!" co-op super move, which transforms our heroes into dudes (or gals) with one rocket launcher arm and one Gatling gun arm -- no, seriously. This newfound "ability" is a product of the movie-inspired "Accelerator Suit" (see teaser below: Joes jumping through bus).

The draw -- or perhaps, the gamble -- is the lure of fan service. EA is including elements from the cartoon and the Hasbro action figures, which may elicit an occasional, emotional spark. Like: "Hey, I remember that guy!" But, it's hard not to criticize G.I. Joe: The Game as anything other than a quickly assembled production (eighteen months, we're told -- for five versions of the same game, plus a separate DS take), designed specifically to capitalize on the blockbuster movie. This is Old EA, picking up New EA's slack.

G.I. Joe: The Game is scheduled for release this summer on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2 and PSP, and is being developed by Double Helix, a division of Foundation 9. A DS version is also in development by Foundation 9 sibling Backbone Entertainment. The game is currently in "pre-alpha" and, on Xbox 360, is looking like a PS2-era shooter with more current anti-aliasing applied. We'd show you, but media assets have yet to be released.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie teaser:

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