Once in blue moon, a game based on a major Hollywood film franchise can impress and even astound cynics of the movie tie-in movement. Does the Expendables 2 Videogame fall into this honored category? Nope. Not even close. And here’s why…
The Expendables films lavishly flaunt their cast as a ‘who’s who’ of action films. They have Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham and even the mighty Chuck Norris. Let’s face it, if you’re not in an Expendables film, it’s hard to call yourself a credible action hero.
For me, the lack of character selection in the Expendables 2 Videogame is its first major failing as players are able to choose between a measly four cast members. These are: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Jet Li. Granted, they are all great actors to have on board, but nowhere near the full compliment.
The game is a basic run and gun, twin-stick type shooter, with movement mapped to the left stick and weapon aiming for the right. Rather simple in principle, except that the targeting system at play follows no real cohesive logic, seemingly targeting enemies at random. Though this doesn’t present a great deal of issue when surrounded by foes, on numerous instances I was caught firing at an enemy who was safely tucked behind a nearby truck, whilst his companions stood right in front of me continued to pummel me with shots. This quickly became a real issue, resulting in many deaths which could have easily been avoided with some simple programming.
Each character comes equipped with a unique weapon set, with characters like Lundgren and Stallone operating better at long range, while Jet Li and Crews are designed as the close quarters members of the squad. These guys work really well as a team, but if you find yourself in a situation where your three team-mates are out of action, you soon start to feel like a blunt cog in a rather rusty machine. Useless. Perhaps this is some deep comment on the individuals in the Expendables, you know, without each other they are nothing, stuff like that. However, I get the feeling that it’s more to do with poor balance and even poorer AI. Of course, I could be mistaken…
The Campaign consists of four chapters, each with five missions, taking you to war-torn locations around the world like the Balkans and Somalia. These missions can either be played out with three friends in four player co-op or you can choose to go it alone. Your best bet is to rely on human intelligence (rather than the shoddy excuse for AI on offer here), as friends are far less likely to all try to revive you at once, resulting in all three of them being gunned down in the process.
The game also employs a very basic cover system but in all honesty, this too seemed like a game of chance, as not many objects allow you to take shelter behind. With the lack of a consistent system, I found myself more inclined to rush headlong into battles that I had no chance of surviving, but at least I looked manly for trying.
The missions in the Campaign mostly follow the same formula of kill everyone in your linear path, until you reach your objective and (probably) blow it up. After the first two, these can start to feel somewhat stale. Surely life as a mercenary isn’t this cold and dull. I was also tired quite early on of the relentless button bashing as I gunned down waves of faceless enemies in my quest for more explosions.
There is, however, the occasional on-rails shooting section and these were by far the most engaging parts of the game. The helicopter sequence in the first chapter was particularly good, as you chase down a rogue munitions train before de-railing it. I would even go as far as to say that this mission was “some fun” but unfortunately these are too few to add much spice to the general gameplay.
The Sum Up
Some cretinous voice acting at times, coupled with a narrative that lacks any real beef (something about rescuing a kidnapped billionaire), this is arcade gaming at its most abhorrent. The game also suffers from some issues with its camera angles, enemies that can walk (and shoot) through walls and AI allies that are only really useful for absorbing enemy fire.
Some of the clunkiest controls and shooting/reloading mechanics that I’ve endured. Its one redeeming quality is probably the hours that you can sink into it but in truth, even your three best friends and a boat-load of beer couldn’t make this game much fun. A tedious slog with an inevitable ending. Plus, no Chuck Norris. Boo!
The Expendables 2 Videogame is available now for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.