The Expendables 2 Videogame had the potential to be a decent twin-stick shooter. It didn't meet that potential.
A week ago, The Expendables 2 released in North America, gracing silver screens and feeding the insatiable appetite some people have of watching a hodgepodge of action stars blow stuff up for an hour and a half. A bit before that, we got our hands on The Expendables 2 Videogame from Zootfly and Ubisoft. Unfortunately, playing through the videogame version of the popcorn franchise took more than an hour and a half. Over the course of three nights, Chris and I bore the chore of mindlessly marching through this shining example of mediocrity.
The Expendables 2 Videogame (subsequently referred to as EX2) takes place in a time between the two movies. There’s some semblance of a storyline that takes place over the course of four chapters. I know it involves a hostage, but that’s about all I gleaned from the game. You’re either rescuing, ransoming, or doing some other unspeakable acts to this hostage. The story, as I perceived it, is actually, “blow stuff up, kill people, repeat until fed up or finished.” The four chapters span the globe from the Balkans to Somalia, Kowloon, and finally Burma. The slight distinguishable features of each area boil down to being a different color or showcasing a different biome. Sand blots out the screen in Somolia, trees populate Burma, etc. Now that I think of it, I’m actually surprised there isn’t an ice level included. There are 5 missions in each area, one of which switches the gameplay to a first-person on-rails shooter.
EX2 is an isometric twin-stick shooter. You choose one of four Expendables: Barney Ross, Gunner Jensen, Hale Caesar, and Yin Yang. Each character has his own set of two weapons, a character-specific grenade, and a character-specific “signature move.” There is a meter that fills up over time. When it’s full, you can press Square to execute a hand-to-hand move. The camera zooms in on you as you perform sometimes gruesome acts (Yin Yang slashes pelvises), then you’re given a weapon boost for a short time. There’s a cover system in place, and you can hold the square button over downed allies to revive them. Every once in a while, EX2 transforms into an on-rails shooter (think any arcade shooter you’ve ever played; I prefer Deadstorm Pirates). You ride in a boat, on a jeep, or in a helicopter, gunning down massive amounts of people and things. These sections were a welcome breath of fresh air. As a matter of fact, Deadstorm Pirates is an appropriate reference here, as both games feature terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dialogue that winds up being humorous.
Though all four of the action heroes’ likenesses are graphically represented in the game, only two lent their voices to EX2. Imagine my surprise when I discovered during the opening cutscene that some guy doing a Sylvester Stallone impersonation is talking. The surprise turned into laughs every time Fauxllone and Jet Ri (voiced by someone doing an almost offensive Asian accent) spoke. Some gems include, “This guy drives like my mom!”, “Does a snowman have a cold pair?”, and “This water looks harrrrrd!” The rest of the dialogue is compiled of quips that try (and fail at) being witty. It’s actually a good thing that they speak often throughout the game, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to make it to the end.
The gameplay is slightly better than Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime and Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone, a compliment in the very slightest. I can say that the game worked for the most part, even though it was sometimes populated with enemies who glitched across or moonwalked around the screen. At the end of each level, you have the ability to spend points you’ve earned to upgrade each character’s weapons and skills. Some upgrades seem to be a bit pricey, but the system as a whole works well enough.
There are two difficulty settings, Casual and Hardcore. We played through the game on Casual and were hit by spontaneous difficulty spikes. During these nightmarish sections, three out of four people were constantly down. It’s a good thing the AI in the game puts reviving teammates on the top of its priority list, otherwise there would have been many more reasons to turn off the game for good. It took three nights to finish EX2, which is more content than I expected. The game plays fine most of the time, it just gets boring doing the same thing for an extended period of time. The Expendables 2 Videogame had the potential to be a decent twin-stick shooter. It didn’t meet that potential. The in-game description of the first mission in Burma explains it all: “Dense forest, picturesque villages and lots and lots of hostile guns. Same shit, different country.”
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
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