You know, I was kind of excited for The Expendables 2: The Video Game when I first saw the trailer a few months ago. I liked the first film alright, and I am looking forward to the sequel, so I thought, “What could be better than playing as your favorite washed-up action star?” Well, sometimes, that is not enough to deliver fun, and maybe I should stop being excited for movie games. I was tricked, you see, I didn’t think The Expendables 2 would suffer the same fate of all movie-games, but it did, and I feel silly.
Developed by Zootfly, and published by Ubisoft, The Expendables 2: The Video Game sounds like a pretty solid game, even intriguing, on paper. It’s a top-down shooter that presents an isometric point of view for the player. You, or with up to three friends, can run through a level playing as either Barney (Stallone), Caeser (Crews), Gunnar (Lundgren), and Ying Yang (Li). Of those four, only two are voiced by their appropriate voice actors (Crews and Lundgren), which means that Barney sounds horrific/comical, and Ying Yang comes off as a bad Asian stereotype. You run around with the left stick, you aim with the right stick, and you fire with R2 (in my PS3 case). You shoot guys, things explode, and every once and awhile you are put in a turret sequence (YEP!). The problem with the game is not its concept, it’s the execution and the clunky controls that ruin it.
In most top down shooters of this generation, there is normally a line of fire present so you know where you are shooting (Dead Nation, Zombie Apocalypse). The Expendables 2 does not have any indication as to what you are firing at besides pointing yourself in a general direction. The only character who has a laser for their rifle is Gunnar, with his sniper rifle. You are constantly getting swarmed by enemies, and it makes it hard to see where your character is, much less where you are firing. The game seems to want to make everything BIG by having huge explosions and a copious amount of generic looking dudes on screen. You have to hold the firing trigger to keep the enemies at bay, but it never seems to do much to their numbers.
Another annoying thing about the shooting mechanic is that you seem to be reloading more than shooting, and reloading takes up a good chunk of time. This doesn’t help the game’s vendetta against the player as it constantly kills you, forcing you to wait until you’re healed, or switch to another character so you can heal the fallen character. You die A LOT, and being given a cover option really doesn’t help when there are dudes coming at you from every angle. Also, there is no vibration when you fire your weapon, so it’s hard to tell when you are firing and when you are reloading. I know, that sounds crazy, but because of the camera, and the amount of things on screen, it’s very hard to tell what your character is doing.
With all that against the game, there are a FEW positives. The graphics, while a bit bland, are not that ugly or broken looking. The ability to upgrade the four characters with experience points earned from killing entire countries of people is a good hook too, but upgrades require lots of EXP. Creating your own game both locally and online is easy, even if no one else is playing the game right now. There is also something to be said for playing as an extreme action hero, too bad you can’t feel like one.
Zootfly really dropped the ball with this one. They already had a strike against them with the Prison Break game, but they should’ve learned from their mistakes. Ubisoft could’ve picked a better company to have developed this game; they do, in fact, produce quality games on the regular. I think their only goal was to ride some of the movie-money and to do it as inexpensive as possible. I can’t fault them on a business side, but c’mon, guys, think of the gamers and do right by us. Hire those guys who did other duel joystick shooters! It’s not that hard! Hell, even if the game was mediocre, I would be able to fault it for much, but that is not the case here.
As of right now, this is only available on PSN as part of the PLAY program; in a few weeks it will be out on Xbox Live and PC. Please, for the love of all that is fun and video gamey, don’t bother with this title. Movie games are usually bad, but this is particularly horrible. I also am a bit miffed that this is the first title to be part of Sony’s PLAY program; this is the time for quality downloadable games and not rushed movie games.
Overall – 1/5
The Expendables 2: The Video Game is a boring, mechanically broken game that looks to ride the coattails of the franchise and not contribute anything significant to a gamer’s library. Avoid at all costs, and put your money towards something else thing summer, like, I don’t know, a movie ticket or a better game.
Is this what you expected from a movie-game?