The Expendables 2 (PSN) Review
Posted by Mark Salmela on 08.11.2012
Sometimes you just want to blow stuff up.
Title: The Expendables 2
Genre: Twin-Stick Shooter
Players: 1 - 4
Rated: M for Mature
Another movie, another movie tie-in video game. Is it just me or are more and more of these movie licensed video games going straight to download now days? If this were 10 years ago you better believe this would have been a full priced retail game. It also probably would have been a third or first person shooter, but thatís beside the point.
The Expendables 2 is a top-down twin-sticks shooter, similar to games like Dead Nation and Commando 3. There are 2 key features that help differentiate Expendables from other games in the twin-stick shooter genre. The first feature is the use of cover. Iíll get into it more in-depth later on but Expendables actually has a cover system youíll be forced to take advantage of if you want to survive. The second feature is the ability to have 4 player co-op both locally and online, compared to the normal 2 player co-op.
The Expendables 2 nails the source material, although quite honestly it wasnít very hard to do. The Expendables 2 features the likenesses of Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Dolph Lundgren as they go through various jungles and industrial environments blowing the holy hell out of everything that moves. The game doesnít try and hide it either, as most of the time your objective is to simply ďeliminate every hostileĒ which is fancy talk for shoot the things that breathe.
The Expendables is at its best when youíre running along with 3 other friends causing as much chaos as possible. Thereís a sense of satisfaction when everything on-screen is blowing up that is quite enjoyable. In fact the game is at its worst when thereís nothing blowing up on-screen. At certain moments youíll have to sit through a bunch of dialogue or to switch to a particular player like Crews to plant some C4 and itís during these downtimes that all of the flaws of the Expendables start to become more apparent.
There are 2 major issues with the Expendables. First off thereís a serious problem with aiming. For almost every gun in the game thereís no laser sight or any way to tell where your gun will shoot until you actually start shooting. This becomes problematic when youíre trying to shoot long range and basically makes the sniper rifle useless. Itís also a huge issue when enemies are on a different plane then your character. Getting your character to shoot upwards and actually hit your target is way more difficult than it should be. It can become downright infuriating when youíre stuck in a level because the action wonít progress until every enemy is dead but you canít hit the one jerk left 30 feet above everyone else.
The other major issue with the Expendables is the hit detection. This is somewhat related to the first issue with the lack of ability to tell where youíre aiming but the hit detection is simply screwed up. There are numerous times where I was standing 5 feet away from 3 or 4 enemies and I couldnít hit a single one. Iíve gone into packs of enemies blasting a shot-gun that did nothing but temporarily stagger a few of them. Thereís a bit of a problem when a shotgun isnít doing damage to a large group of enemies 5 feet away from you. Shotguns are called crowd control for a reason.
The actual missions in the Expendables break down to running along a linear path, killing everything on-screen until the game decides youíve killed enough enemies to advance. There is the occasional on-rails shooter level inside of a helicopter to help break up the action, but even the on-rails sections donít feel quite right. As I already mentioned thereís a cover system in place, which becomes a necessity on the hardest difficulty. You can stand over downed players to revive them, but youíll need to hide behind cover if you want to stay alive for more than a few seconds in tense situations. Having a cover system in a twin-stick arcade shooter just doesnít work. The whole point of the Expendables is that theyíre ass kickers. They donít hide behind cover and occasionally lean out to shoot their guns, they run in guns-a-blazing ready to kick total ass. The Expendables was meant to be a twin-stick shooter, but thereís no place in the source material or the genre for a cover system.
The Expendables technically has a story set right before the 2nd movie, but if youíre expecting anything more than ďthere are bad guys, shoot themĒ youíre only fooling yourself. The game is fully voiced, although itís rather obvious these are stand in voice actors who clearly phoned it in. Whoever tried to imitate Sylvester Stallone stands out as one of the worst performances, and at times doesnít even remotely sound like Stallone.
Besides the half-assed voiceovers the graphics are nothing to write home about, with the character models sticking out like a sore thumb. Whoever had the bright idea to have the character models stand out front-and-center on the character selection screen with only a few frames of actual animation deserves to be fired. Considering who you want to play as breaks down to what weapon do you want to use (Stallone gets pistol, Li gets SMG, Crew gets shotgun, and Lundgren gets sniper rifle) they should have just used static pictures of the characters or just said what weapon do you want to start with. You can change to any character at any time mid-game, so thereís no point to selecting an initial character unless youíre playing with other people.
The whole user interface in general is rather bland, along with one of the most uninteresting progression systems ever. While playing you earn XP which can be spent on upgrades such as improved weapons and more health, which is a nice benefit but the whole upgrade system could not look more bland or uninspired. The upgrades themselves may be useful, but thereís nothing more uninspiring then unlocking ďmore healthĒ for ď3000 XPĒ.
- The explosions are large.
- 4 player co-op online and locally is a lot of fun.
- When the action is tense and explosions are everywhere this game shines bright.
- The game is well balanced, and the revival system is a necessity.
- Anytime things arenít constantly exploding.
- Cover systems just donít work in twin-stick arcade shooters.
- The voice acting is bad.
- The levels are uninspired, the graphics are mediocre, and the animation is terrible.
- The upgrade system is barebones.
I may or may not like on-rails shooters. I also may or may not like games with the words Terror and Target in them.
The Expendables 2 ranks on the lower tier for the top-down twin-stick shooter genre. If you have 3 buddies who love twin-stick shooters, by all means pick this game up. When everything around you is exploding and there are 50 guys on screen trying to kill you the Expendables is a lot of fun to play. Unfortunately for every one thing this game does right, it does 2 things completely wrong. Only serious fans of the source material and the genre need apply. For everyone else, skip the Expendables 2 video game.
The character modes and animations are terrible. The explosions do look pretty though.
The Expendables is a competent twin-stick shooter, but it doesnít even come close to any of the good twin-stick shooters.
The voice acting is laughable, and the sound effects are just plain loud. I didnít expect to turn down the volume but eventually it just became too much.
The Expendables 2 is actually quite long, although you could have figured that out when you realized all of the upgrades are ridiculously expensive.
If you have friends of the genre to play this with, it can be a good time. For everyone else, thereís nothing here for you.