The Expendables 2: The Game

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6 Overall Score

Reasonable price

Washed out environments | Characters are indistiguishable | Difficult to move around in world

Written by on August 29, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

Ubisoft is exploding onto your gaming screen with an action shoot ‘em up based on the action movie The Expendables 2.  This downloadable game sells on XBLA and PSN for roughly fifteen dollars American.  Will this game ride the movie hype train all the way to the bank or will it get derailed and dive right over the cliff into obscurity?  The game plays it smart right up front by not charging a full game price for a quick thrill ride.  A few other features of the game feed into delivering the action without attempting to make it anything more than it is.

The ‘plot’ is set up as a prequel to the movie so the characters are not burdened by the need to thread scenes from the movie into the game.  The basic game is that our heroes have been paid to follow hordes of bad guys through four areas of the world to retrieve a hostage.  Honestly the plot is extremely thin and almost unnecessary to follow.  The game quickly brushes past all constraints of a plot to get to the meat of the matter.  There are four locations and four chapters to the game.  Each chapter has five missions including challenge areas where players can compete on leaderboards to get through the challenge faster than their buddies.  The game allows players to set up private, public or offline campaigns and challenge area games by creating their own game, joining a quick match, or using the matchmaking system.  The game plays right into the extreme summer action thrill ride by presenting a game that is a traditional isometric shooter that allows the player and up to three friends play as one of four characters from the movie.  That’s right, for a movie jam packed with action superstars there are only four available to play in this game which is sure to cause rage in some.

There is Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) the leader and all-around fighter, Yin Yang (Jet Li) the melee combat master, Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) the explosives guru, and Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) as the sniper.  Only Crews and Lundgren voiced their own character but, again, this is game is not about dialog.  The players basically wade through almost endless hordes of minions using their skill set to the greatest advantage.  Each character starts with two basic weapons, a grenade type, and a “Signature Kill” move.  The character builds up a “Combat Charge” in three segments as they fight enemies.  The player can chose to spend one segment to throw a grenade or wait and spend all three segments to perform the character’s “Signature Kill” in slow motion and graphic detail.  The players can earn bonus experience by using the character’s skills to take out their enemies or take out enemies that have similar skills.  I played as Gunner most often so I tried to take out as many snipers as possible to get the most bonus experience.

The game does have small portion of on rails shooting chaos from vehicles like a chopper or boat to break up the monotony but most of the game is all about mowing down as many minions as possible on foot.  I honestly have no problem with a game that has a simple basic play style.  One of my favorite genres is the hack and slash dungeon crawler.  The problem I found with this game is that other aspects of the game really accentuated the monotony and added a level of frustration to the gameplay.

The Graphics for the game are bright.   I mean extremely bright.  It is ironic that I find far too many games far too dark and now I complain about brightness but the environment in this game is extremely washed out making navigating the terrain very frustrating at times.  I had trouble trying to get out from behind obstacles I could not see as minions do their best to knock me down.  I also had trouble seeing where the players needed to go next during the game.  My AI companion gave me no aid.  They, instead, waited for me to guide them, ugh.

Speaking of the AI companions, if you choose to play single player the other character will join you as AI characters.  Their interaction can be a help but all too often they seem determined to hinder me.  They swarm around my character and made it extremely difficult to move around.  One great benefit to the AI was that they are there to help pick you up if you fall, sometimes.  There is no death for our mighty heroes.  When they fall down in battle they can’t move but they can defend themselves with their pistol until another character can come over and revive them using an injection of something better left unknown.  The alternative to waiting for a revive is to jump to one of the other characters and fight or revive your first character.  This really helps keep the game rolling which is nice.  If all four characters die then they are transported to the nearest checkpoint instantly to charge ahead once again.  The checkpoints occur pretty frequently so the action does not stop for long.  The AI also provides opportunities along the way to use the other character’s specialties to proceed to the next area.  At times the player needs to switch to Caesar (if they are not already playing him) to blow open a gate, for example.

The characters can pick up a plethora of guns as they drop from fallen enemies but I found most of the guns extremely underpowered and inaccurate.  The only exception was the rocket launchers that were needed to take down large enemy tanks and choppers.  Players can also find glowing health boosts littered around the world to restore their health bars.  This is a nice idea but with so many enemies and the terrain so hard to move around in the health boosts were often hard to get to.  I usually chose to use the minimal “cover” element of the game to regenerate health in relative safety.

One biggest problems in the game was keeping track of the rest of my team.  They use a light gray circle on the ground, sometimes, to highlight each member but with so many enemies all around this technique is a bit tough to see.  It does not help that three of the characters look almost identical as teeny tiny fighters.  Three characters wearing identical colors, dark hair, and similar facial hair.  Only Gunner , the blonde, stands out.  This was another reason I typically play as Gunner.  The enemies were also wearing neutral colors that did nothing to distinguish them from my buddies.  The one saving grace was that the enemies typically wore red headgear.  It is wonderful to try and use realistic coloring and the characters do look a lot like the real life actors but I would have preferred some way to distinguish one from the other.  With bullets flying and explosions all around the only time I could absolutely find my buddies was after they had fallen.  Once a hero has fallen there is a colored circle around a skull icon on the ground to distinguish the player.  It would have been nice to have that color on all the time.

Throughout the missions the player will earn experience points.  They can then use these points to buy upgrades for the different characters.  There are weapons, health, movement speed, and attack upgrades available.  If the player finds waiting to play through enough missions to earn all these upgrades is far too difficult they can buy full upgrade unlocks for each individual character for just under a dollar USD.  They can also choose to buy all the upgrades for all the characters for just under three dollars USD.  It’s a fairly reasonable price for a bit of a timesaver.

This, like the film it’s based on, is about as subtle as a shotgun blast to the face.  It is an old school shoot-‘em-up with huge waves of enemies to mow down as the player moves through each mission.  There are no nuances, and there is no time to rest.  Yes the missions seem to blend together and the action can seem repetitive to most, because it is.  This is a no-brainer shoot-first and-keep-shooting game.  This is the type of game I play after a tough day on the job to let off some steam and unwind.  I don’t have to think, I don’t have to analyze, I just mow down big baddies by the thousands and feel good about myself.  Unfortunately the overly washed out environments, extremely hampered movement through the terrain, and indistinguishable characters make the repetition more unbearable.  I still had a nice time playing through the game but it will not hold my interest for long.  For me, it is time to pack up my guns and ride into the sunset.

A copy of The Expendables 2 was provided to the Married Gamers for the purposes of the review.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

One Comment on "The Expendables 2: The Game"

  1. Loren Nikkel September 2, 2012 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I played the demo and felt like that was enough for me. I don’t envy you. ;)

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