We never expect movie licensed video games to actually deliver, but I’ll admit that I wanted The Expendables 2 to leave me pleasantly surprised. I’m sure that the deadline to finish the game before the motion picture did not help the development cycle, resulting in a flawed and lazy attempt to capture the magic that The Expendables name holds. I understand that it is a long shot to think that the game would live up to the impact of the original movie, but this was the chance to take the excitement from the films and turn it into a great little action game. Sadly, The Expendables 2 video game is a complete waste of time, resources, and an insult to The Expendables name.
The Expendables in a nutshell is a collection of classic action stars that come together to create a symphony of destruction, and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They go in to foreign countries where terrorism runs rampant, blow everything away in their path, and toss out a flurry of one liners along the way. The game could easily mimic Gauntlet or Contra, skinned to fit the leathery visage of the aging actors, throw in a mess of amazing writing and a plethora of crazy personalities. Sounds like a recipe for awesome, right? Instead, you are left with nothing more than a shell of a game that doesn’t capitalize on any of The Expendables qualities.
Luckily I didn’t have to play through the whole thing solo, as the game is designed for pure co-op. The Expendables 2 is a four player co-op shooter that features only four of the characters from the films. Each of the heroes comes with their own weapons and a unique trait that defines their playstyle. Barney Ross (Stallone) gets a bonus to his pistols, Gunner Jensen (Lundgren) is the designated sniper, Yin Yang (Li) is the martial artist, and Hale Caesar (Crews) rounds out the group as the crazy explosives expert. Only Crews and Lundgren voice their own characters, and it is blatantly obvious that Jet Li and Stallone didn't make it into the sound booth. It would have been nice to utilize the expansive cast of the films, but alas another opportunity squandered by time and budget.
Controls hamper the shooting experience and leave the player feeling weak.
If you ignore all of my previous complaints, the real issue I have with the game is the mechanics. For an action shooter that has tons of enemies on screen and exploding barrels at every turn, the shooting simply isn’t fun. Everything soaks up a ton of bullets, causing you to feel powerless and the weapons don’t have that punch to them. Enemy animations are laughable and there is barely hit detection on the bullets, so you are never quite sure when you actually killed somebody other than their disappearing body on the screen.
The controls don’t help either. The basic concept of aiming and pulling the trigger is muddled by some sort of identity crisis where you aim like a twin stick shooter, but shoot using a trigger button. The lack of locking on or accurate aiming causes you to fire at random enemies in hopes that you will eventually kill them all. With the aforementioned weak feeling you are left with an unsatisfying experience that doesn’t ‘feel’ right. When you launch a rocket into a group of enemies, shouldn’t they explode across the screen instead of drop to their knees and keel over?