|Movie-Based G.I. Joe Game Coming This Summer
EA to provide first look at multiplatform title next week.
By Steve Watts, 02/11/2009
As part of its lucrative deal with toy manufacturer Hasbro, EA has announced the development of a game for G.I. Joe to release alongside the upcoming The Rise of Cobra. The game doesn't seem strictly based on events from the film, as EA promises players the ability to "re-live the greatest moments from the film, cartoon series and action figure toy line." We're not sure what greatest moments from the action figures they're referring to, but we assume it's when your band of G.I. Joes held your little sister's Barbie for a ransom of candy. The game features 12 playable characters, while the movie highlights five, so they may be pulling others from the toy line. It will allow single-screen co-op for two players, and is being developed for all major platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PS2, PSP, and Nintendo DS. Though EA is tight-lipped about many details so far, we'll reportedly get our first look on February 15 at the New York City Toy Fair. This news isn't surprising, as most big-budget action films get some kind of game release, like the recently announced Transformers 2. With the two games and movies releasing so close to each other, you can resume your epic playground debates with friends of which series is better.
Our first look at the run-and-gun co-op action in G.I. Joe.
By Adam Rosenberg 02/13/2009
In the great pantheon of '80s one-liners, falling somewhere between "Where's the beef?" and "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" we have G.I. Joe's "Knowing is half the battle!" It's no great surprise in our retro-loving culture that the iconic '80s cartoon (and the toy line on which it is based) has been tapped for the summer blockbuster treatment. Or that yesterday brought word of a tie-in video game, which will be released in August to coincide with the film. Electronic Arts will publish G.I. Joe for just about every video game console and game-supporting handheld device currently in production. Yesterday's seasonal EA preview event in New York City brought a pre-Alpha eyes-on glimpse of one of the game's levels. In it, series mainstays Snake Eyes and Heavy Duty picked apart a force of Cobra soldiers stationed at a desert installation.
The action plays out from a third-person perspective, with the camera pulled back considerably further than is standard for this sort of game. That's because there is no manual camera control in G.I. Joe, either in single player games or in same-window local co-op sessions. Sounds like trouble to me. The auto-camera might work just fine when you're on your own, but it's going to be a nightmare for local co-op -- unless all the enemies come from the same direction. Let's not forget Fable II's detestable co-op camera.
The demo handler was very clear in pointing out -- multiple times -- that you could conceivably make it through the entire game using only the left analog stick to move and the right trigger to shoot. The idea being to simplify the controls to the point that a mom could sit down and play along with her kids. Complexity is still there for those who want it, in the form of special "Yo Joe!" super attacks, character-specific weapons, three soldier classes (and class-specific bonus rooms to go with them), mid-level character swap stations, manual target selection, and more. It's just that the difficulty level will be friendly to those who want a mindless run and gun experience.
The primary appeal for more seasoned players lies in the execution of the license. So far, so good on that front. The level of visual detail is perhaps lower than is usual for a modern-day action game, but an abundance of bright colors and garishly attired characters feel like virtual-world echoes of the classic cartoon series. Players will even find old school "knowing is half the battle" PSAs scattered among the game's unlockables.
G.I. Joe is set after the events of the upcoming movie, The Rise of Cobra, though it will draw from the collective mythos put forth by all the films, cartoons, and toys. This frees up the development team to take a more open-ended approach to the narrative. There are roughly 20 core story missions as well as an unspecified number of optional ones, some of which exist for the sole purpose of unlocking one of the game's 12+ playable characters.
Between missions, you visit a mobile version of the G.I. Joe home base (called The Pit) to select the next Cobra-hunting task from a master list. New missions and other bonuses are unlocked by picking up briefcases and Intel collectibles scattered throughout each level. The hub area will also feature a store where players can spend their amassed points on assorted goodies.
Clearly, there's more to come in terms of gameplay details. The team is working on the game's online multiplayer component, which will presumably/hopefully include co-op and competitive elements. Expect plenty of nods to the fans in the unlockables as well; asked if G.I. Joe will feature any classic character skins, the EA rep simply responded with, "No comment, wink wink."
Electronic Arts is clearly hoping that G.I. Joe will appeal to both the core gamer camp as well as to the more casual set. The Lego games toe a similar line, though their tongue-in-cheek adaptations differ from G.I. Joe's more straightforward treatment of the source. The nostalgia factor is high of course, but EA is going to need to supplement it with some polished and varied gameplay if they're going to have any hope of winning over core gamers made cynical by too many movie tie-in rush jobs.