The Expendables 2 Videogame, Reviewed
I’m a sucker for a good action movie, even more so when it’s filled with my favorite stars. That’s why I enjoyed the first Expendables film more than I probably should have. I let it off easy with “well, it’s supposed to be over the top”, as if that somehow excuses it from needing substance. Despite all that, I still pass it off as something that I enjoy. I will do no such thing with The Expendables 2 game for PlayStation 3.
It’s not that there’s anything terribly wrong with the game’s core mechanics; it is just filled with small things that build up into a spiraling tornado of annoyances that ruin the experience of play. It’s got so much going for it, too; a brilliant movie tie-in for the ultimate action film, a four-player online drop-in drop-out dual-joystick shooter that pits you as your favorite action stars fending off hundreds of enemies. That sounds like a great idea, but things go horribly wrong in the first few missions and never improve.
As you navigate your elite group of commandos on a seemingly easy “in-and-out” job, you’ll quickly learn which of the four characters you’ll be sticking with for the rest of the game. I found myself sticking with Terry Crew’s character, though Jet Li’s was also a favorite, as they had weapons that fit all situations. In contrast, the Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone characters carry weapons which felt out of place and totally useless in most scenarios.
It isn’t too big of an issue when playing solo because you can quickly switch between players if you think one might be more useful than the other, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stuck as Lundgren’s character for the entire game. He uses primarily a sniper rifle, despite most of the combat taking place in close range, making it nearly impossible to aim the already difficult controls.
Of course, perhaps the most “Expendables” part of The Expendables 2 is the up-close signature moves that you can perform after filling a bonus bar. When activated, the camera pulls in close on the character and shows them pulling an execution move on an enemy. These are extremely cool and show just what the Expendables is about: over the top violence that’s ridiculous rather than repetitive.
In terms of action, The Expendables 2 is as action-packed as any dual-joystick downloadable title, but with a few dozen more explosions. Guns sound as they should, though you’ll hardly ever hear them over the screams and explosions ringing out every second. Unfortunately, you’ll find yourself experiencing the same action time and time again, as The Expendables 2 is one of the most repetitive games I’ve ever played. Sure, I get that it’s a straightforward shooter and it's hard to improve on that formula very much, but even the otherwise silly on-rails sequences were a nice break from the constant, repetitive waves of oncoming soldiers.
When your character takes too much damage, they’ll be downed and need to be revived by one of the other characters. This isn’t too much of an issue when you’re playing by yourself and can switch between characters easily, but when you’ve got a full party, it can take a while for someone to get free to come help you up. When they do, they’re exposed to gunfire and will often go down as well, resulting in a delicate balance of shooting and reviving that doesn’t play out as it should.
Even with the cutscenes scattered throughout each of the four episodes, I found the whole things a bit hard to follow. It didn’t really fit the gameplay either. I know that evil warlords have private armies, but it was just discussed that the place is a small town, yet thousands of soldiers went unnoticed? The plot of The Expendables 2 just isn’t very well thought out.
There aren’t many people that I’d recommend The Expendables 2 to, and even then, it’d be a faint recommendation. This game isn't terrible, but there’s plenty of better options available that you should spend your money on first. I only hope that this game doesn't end up souring the movie experience for players, considering that the film has the chance to be the best action film in years.