The Expendables 2 Video Game Review
The Expendables 2 Video Game
PSN / XBLA
Zootfly / Ubisoft
Shooter / Action
The Expendables 2, at first glance, looks like it could be a decently fun couch co-op game. And it can be, but probably not for the reasons one would hope. When I first began playing the game, I immediately took notice of how unfinished everything looked- from the main menu to the cut scenes to the ending credits. The thoughts of a “tight budget” and “limited timeline” crossed my mind as an abrupt transition to a cut scene allowed me to see my character’s head going through another character’s body. The game is flawed in just about every way you can imagine, but I still managed to wrangle a decent time out of it under the right conditions.
One major flaw with the game is that it is not really sure what it wants to be. I can only describe it as an isometric, twin-stick cover shooter. To me, twin-stick shooter and cover shooter are complete opposites. One is frantic, non-stop action that requires a steady stream of bullets. The other is slower-paced, requiring you to stop movement to heal, reload, or take cover – Defending with constant movement versus defending by hiding behind a crate. The two ideas couldn’t contradict each other more, so I was baffled to find that my twin-stick shooter was saddled with a cover system. The way the shooting mechanics work- small clip size, long reload times, low power, etc., almost require you to make use of the cover system, when all I wanted to do was run through the hordes of enemies, spraying as I went. Enemies do not react to being hit the way you’d want them to, and often take multiple hits even with the grenade launcher before they go down. I wanted Dead Nation with more explosions and offensively cheesy dialogue, but I got a top-down Gears of War with an unfair number of enemies compared to the power of my weapons.
Compounding the slow pace from reloading and healing was the gunplay itself. Other than the sniper’s laser site and the streak following the throwing knife, it is fairly difficult to tell where your bullets are headed. To help with this, the game has aim-assist, only this caused more problems than not. See that guy with the RPG up on the bridge that keeps downing you? Well if you want to hit him, you have to kill all of the enemies between you and him first because the game will lock you onto the closest enemy to your character in the direction that you are pointing. This caused a lot of frustration for me at times, when the screen was filled with dozens of enemies that I couldn’t take down, because the sniper way far away kept pegging me. I rarely reached a game over screen because of this, but it did cause the game to drag on as I healed and was healed by my teammates dozens of times per stage. The guy with the RPG had a curious habit of waiting for us to stand up from being healed to take his shot, repeating the cycle. Of course, if you want to avoid all of this, even on hardcore, you can simply roll-dodge through most of the levels without firing a shot until you reach an invisible barrier.
About halfway through the game, I stopped and could not keep myself from pointing out every little flaw with the game and why I wasn’t enjoying playing it at all. So I called my brother to come play with me, hoping to get through it a bit quicker. It did go faster, but more importantly, I actually started to have fun. The Expendables movies exist to honor the cheesy, over-the-top action flicks of yesteryear- you know, those movies that are so horrifically macho that they are hilarious. Why shouldn’t the game provide the same kind of experience? Instead of letting the flaws of the game keep me from having fun, I let them contribute to it. Sylvester Stallone’s lifeless eyes became funny, the cheap deaths enjoyable. Something about playing with another “bro” made the game more enjoyable. This game is definitely at its best when played with two or more players, especially if they are in the same room. I would never go see the movie without a couple friends to laugh with, and I now feel the same way about the game.
Bottom line, The Expendables 2 is not good. But if you’re the kinda guy or gal that likes to go rent an awful horror flick to laugh at with friends, this could potentially be worth your while. Like I said, it is enjoyable under the right conditions.