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G.I. Joe: War on Cobra

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
G.I. Joe: War on Cobra App Poster Image
Classic cartoon goes mobile in new action-packed battles.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The game's relatively easy to pick up and play, as most of your units' basic attacks are done automatically. Units can be easily directed to specific targets as well. On the defense side, players simply build their defenses at their home base and hope for the best.

Violence

Players send soldiers, vehicles, heroes, and more to the frontlines of the battle, blasting the opposition with gunfire, explosives, and other hi-tech weapons. Despite the destruction, there's no blood shown onscreen and defeated units simply vanish from play to be replenished in the next battle.

Sex
Language

There's an online chat component that could potentially open up players to some offensive language, but the channels can be switched to avoid most confrontations. 

Consumerism

The game's based on the fan favorite, long standing G.I. Joe franchise, which has had numerous toys, animated series, comic book, movies, and other media and collectibles. It's also a free-to-play game which, while it can be played without spending money on in-app purchases, constantly pressures players to buy special packs of resources, currency, and other items to build up more quickly and with more powerful units.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that G.I. Joe: War on Cobra is a free-to-play mobile strategy game available for download on iOS and Android devices. The game's based on Hasbro's long-running and popular G.I. Joe franchise, featuring characters that have appeared in toys, cartoons, comics, etc. Players build bases to gather resources and set up defenses, while simultaneously recruiting and training units to attack other bases. Combat is constant, though it consists mainly of flashy effects and explosions, with no blood shown onscreen. There's a heavy push for players to purchase in-game items and currency in the shop, though these purchases aren't necessary to play the game.

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What's it about?

The fight for freedom continues in G.I. JOE: WAR FOR COBRA, a free-to-play strategy game pitting the heroes of the G.I. Joe military force against the terrorist machinations of the Cobra organization and its quest for world domination. Players will choose a faction, build up their base, and take the fight to the enemy in real-time combat. You can recruit iconic heroes and villains from the G.I. Joe and Cobra rosters, including Roadblock, Scarlett, Destro, and The Baroness, and have them lead the charge as you take out other players' bases, collecting resources and spreading your influence around the globe. Defend the world or conquer it -- the choice is yours.

Is it any good?

It's been nearly four decades since the highly trained special mission force codenamed "G.I. Joe" defended freedom against Cobra, the ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world. Now that fight for freedom continues on mobile devices in G.I. Joe: War on Cobra. Players build bases to defend resources from other players' attacks, while also recruiting and training units to send into battle in their own attacks on others. Rather than mixing Joe and Cobra forces or locking players into one side or the other, War on Cobra lets players switch factions on the fly, maintaining the progression of each while keeping them separate from one another. Being able to shift between the two sides acts almost like playing two different accounts, with separate rewards, events, etc. earned for each.

Gameplay in War on Cobra is a simple experience, though it's a bit of a grind. Once units are deployed, they essentially operate on autopilot. They attack the nearest structures unless directed to another target, and activating special abilities is just a matter of pointing and clicking when available. On the defense side of things, there's even less direct interaction. Players simply collect resources and use them to place/upgrade base defenses. Bases and structures don't actually take damage from attacks; instead, players just lose some resources. It's quick, fun action that's faithful to the franchise's fanbase, but the grind to earn more powerful characters and the wait to generate resources can be frustrating. While in-game ads constantly promote special purchases to jumpstart players' progress, it's important to know they're not a requirement to enjoy the game. And as any Joe will tell you, "Knowing is half the battle."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about commercialism in entertainment. What are some ways that TV, movies, games, and other media are used as promotions for products? How can these entertainment outlets be used as extended commercials for kids' toys and similar items?

  • What are some of the ways that "free" games still compel players to spend money? How can limiting gameplay options behind a paywall hurt a game's entertainment value? How invasive are in-game ads in these "free" games?

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