G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a third-person shooter adventure, designed for two players, based on Paramount Pictures' summer 2009 film of the same name. The game follows its own original storyline, which begins just after the events of the film. Players lead a two-soldier team of their favorite G.I. Joe characters through a series of discrete but successive missions, advancing the story and moving closer to the game's ultimate confrontation with the elite of the enemy terrorist military organization known as Cobra. The action plays out with both active heroes on a single screen, emphasizing the need for teamwork integral to the G.I. Joe stories. To ensure that Joe fans of all ages and gaming skills can work together to battle through the game's levels, the control scheme is based on a scalable design. It is possible to blast through each mission using only two controls -- move and shoot -- yet additional controls, for moves such as strafing, melee fighting, and charged-up attacks, are available to empower more practiced gamers.
In the summer 2009 imagining of the G.I. Joe legend, fans are introduced to the military's secret team of specialists, and witness the origins of the nefarious enemy organization as well. In addition to gun battles, players face hand-to-hand combat and some car-jacked driving challenges, in missions of infiltration, sabotage, and assault. At certain points, when the situation looks desperate, players' characters in the current mission can call in support from other G.I. Joe operatives, making use of their unique abilities to get past a tough fight or obstacle. By playing through the main campaign, gamers unlock additional characters for use in replays and other modes. Although following directly from the story of the movie, the video game draws on 45 years of fiction and lore created through G.I. Joe comics, cartoons, previous games, and multiple toy lines from manufacturer Hasbro, including the revamped line of G.I. Joe toys developed and released alongside the feature film and game.