Having grown up with the original G.I. Joe cartoons being my way of shrugging off homework, with the action figures and vehicles another way to prolong the procrastination, you might say I'm familiar with the stories and characters in Hasbro's G.I. Joe Universe. I've followed the news of the G.I. Joe movie more out of curiosity than anything -- I fully realize that the upcoming film isn't meant for me. The new G.I. Joe movie is for kids, and I'm okay with that. It stands to reason that the new game would be kid-centric, too, and EA doesn't disappoint in that respect.

The character names in both the movie and the game are the same, but aside from Snake Eyes, Baroness, and a few familiar vehicles, that's where the similarities end. The game supposedly picks up where the movie left off, but, like the movie, this game isn't really about the story. G.I. Joe is about guns, swords, ninjas, missiles, bombs, hot chicks in tight clothes, and ninjas. Do you really need any more than that for a kid's game? No, and dads might even...ahem, enjoy the occasional Baroness and Scarlett close-up. This third person shooter that makes me think of what would happen if Raiden and Contra mated. Just keep shooting, find as many power-ups as you can, and keep moving. The weapons you fire get more powerful, special attacks are more spectacular, and firing rates become more rapid the more you kick Cobra butt.

I found the game a fun little diversion, but my two boys, ages 11 and 13, well, let me just quote a few things I heard them mutter while playing:

"Whoa, that was cool." "Hey did you see that?" "This is fun." "Oooh we get Heavy Duty!" "These vehicles are cool!" "Whooooa, he has a chaingun!" "Should we buy Backblast?" "Oh, cool. Who's that guy?"

And on and on it goes. It's about blowing stuff up and getting achievements and unlocking new characters that help you blow stuff up in more sensational fashion. What more does a kid need? Older kids will be happy with the achievements, and all kids will enjoy the game's Casual mode, which allows them to jump right in and get shooting without having to worry about aiming. You'll get a lot of advice from Dial Tone (who is now female), Breaker, and Ripcord along the way, including a doctor who was forced to work for Cobra and knows all their secrets. General Hawk pipes up whenever Duke gets a little mouthy, which is nice because Duke is a whiny little girl most of the time. Play by yourself, or play co-op with another player locally or online via Xbox LIVE.

Aside from running around and shooting stuff, you can call in the occasional air strike from Wild Bill or orbital laser satellites (thanks Ronald Reagan!), and read file cards similar to those that come with the action figures that you pick up throughout the game. There's plenty of content to keep kids busy while you make dinner or run on the treadmill.

G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra is rated 'T' for Teens, due to Fantasy Violence. You won't see blood, dismemberment or disembowelment, and these G-rated Joes and Cobras won't be heard exclaiming anything but, "Aw man!" "Yo Joe," "Cobraaaa!" and "You don't stand a chance." So let your boys be boys and blow up some digitized Cobra troopers, they'll grow up as happy and healthy as me! ;D

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