Plain and simple, if you liked The Expendables movie, you will like this game; however, a high price tag and design shortfalls should make you think twice about ponying up for this movie tie-in.
- Fantastic online offerings
- Good old fashioned stupid fun
- Copious amounts of death
- Repetitive levels and gameplay
- Laughably bad voice acting
- Splitscreen capabilities are lacking
The Expendables 2 Review:
I went to see the original Expendables film on a Sunday afternoon with my brother and father. The theater was completely empty and upon leaving we agreed that not only was the movie terrible, but we all were excited for a sequel. The Expendables was a bad movie and -- spoiler alert -- The Expendables 2 is going to be a bad movie as well. Keeping with tradition, The Expendables 2 Video Game is a bad game. However, just like the movies, I enjoyed it all the same.
So why did I like an admittedly bad game? Maybe I have bad taste. Maybe it’s because I can totally get behind testosterone and machismo-fueled movies and video games. But most likely it’s because sometimes I like to turn off my brain, kick my feet up and let my jaw go slack as I slog through a really stupid game. Luckily The Expendables 2 let me do just that.
Dumber than a zombie
The Expendables 2 seems to take most of its cues from the well-received zombie shoot-em-up Dead Nation. It plays as a typical top-down co-op shooter with all players sharing a screen. However, unlike Dead Nation which features either a flashlight or laser to show where your character is facing, The Expendables 2 is far more confusing and disorienting. During certain firefights I felt that I would have been better off playing with my eyes closed. Indeed, I could tell which way generally I should be facing by where I was pointing the thumbstick, but that was about it.
For this reason alone, I chose the character with the most splash damage—the one with the grenade launcher and shotgun. The other classes offer a sniper with a powerful slow-firing rifle, a knife thrower, and Stallone rocking the twin pistols; however, these classes all take more practice to master than I was willing to put in. In fact, for the first hour or two I absolutely hated the game.
But, a few levels in I had gotten the hang of the sometimes awkward combat and I was doing relatively well. The characters are bullet/damage sponges and my guy took a point blank blast from an RPG without even stopping to brush off the dust. You can revive your teammates when they are down and if more people help, the teammate will be revived faster. The AI also happens to be dumber than even the zombies in Dead Nation (who are literally brain dead). Beyond that, it’s a matter of taking your infinite ammo-laden guns and slaughtering entire villages of people across a variety of maps.
Most of the levels are extremely similar with small tweaks: day vs. night, occasional objectives (like setting explosives), rigging a motorcycle to fly into a helicopter and explode. Overall they are unimaginative, but frankly, so is most of the game. There are a few on-rails missions that, while fairly standard, offer the unique take of making your players basically invulnerable. Essentially they are an opportunity to grind for upgrades.
Taking the stupidity online
Oh yes, The Expendables 2 features upgrades. However, they are so expensive that you can rarely buy them and it’s very clear the game’s designers intended you to beat the game a handful of times to earn them all. This is understandable, if not a bit frustrating for impulse buyers like me. But if you spend enough time online, purchasing all of the upgrades wouldn’t take more than a week. However, if you’re playing the game in splitscreen mode, due to the inability to sign in multiple accounts on the PlayStation 3, none of your partner’s money or upgrades will remain after you quit the game. While this may seem minor, after plugging in five to six hours, only to have your upgrades disappear is fairly frustrating for anyone who plans to play the game splitscreen. However, the Xbox 360 version of the game has no such issues, and all of my buddy’s upgrades remained with on his profile.
Online play is probably the game’s strongest feature. After beating the game offline, my friend and I ventured online to test our mettle. After choosing our characters the game automatically threw us in the middle of a game with two other people using the other two classes. Matchmaking was impossibly seamless, and after our companions left, a new player would drop in almost immediately. It was also refreshing to play a game online wherein not playing like an asshole is rewarded. Strangers would regularly go out of their way to revive me or cover me while I planted explosives.
This is normally where I would talk about the story in the game. But I’m not going to because for the life of me I could not figure out what the hell the story was about. All I could distinguish is that Stallone and his posse are roaming around the world killing people in third world countries. It’s not hard to imagine in each level the players walking into a peaceful town and brutally slaughtering every inhabitant for no dammed reason. I really struggled to get past the horrifyingly bad Stallone stand-in who read his lines like a morning DJ doing a bad impression. This is made worse by the abysmal cutscenes after every level. While the rest of the game looks great, I knew that at the end of every level I was in for a treat of bad voice acting and laughable animations.
A bargain bin special
The Expendables 2 is a short, stupid, bite-sized treat. Like a bag of Funyuns, it’s good for a while, but you can only take so much. The game’s biggest shortfall is the fact that it rings up at a whopping $15, which is probably about $10 more than I would be willing to pay for the quality it delivers. However, if you are going to buy it I would definitely recommend the 360 version. For a short and sub-par title with great online play, The Expendables 2 should definitely remain on your on-sale radar. . .but that’s about it.