by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
The Expendables was a great idea. Forget the two-hour borefests that pass for action movies these days, replete with heavy monologues, sappy love interests and only one serious fight scene. Sly Stallone gathered the best action stars around for a smorgasbord of gunfire, fistfights and explosions. I can’t wait to see the sequel; the addition of Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and the expansion of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original cameo roles practically guarantee a great time for action fans.
That being said, I don’t remember the plot of the first movie at all. It doesn’t matter; I’m going to see The Expendables 2 for the spectacle, not to challenge my brain with a convoluted plot. Unfortunately, while the film can get away with being all flash and no substance, the related game cannot. The Expendables 2 video game has some of the feel of watching the movie, but for a series based around heavily muscled characters the gameplay is just too weak to match up.
Playing with pop cap guns
Gameplay takes the form of a top-down shooter with four players, online or off. You have the choice of Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews or Jet Li’s character. Each has different weapons but your choice does not really matter as all of the weapons feel underpowered and the melee is even worse. Li’s character, Yin Yang, is a knife specialist and subsequently useless. Why he would bring a knife to a gunfight is beyond me, but I was shanghaied into playing as him in my first multiplayer game. While the other players were racking up body counts in the low hundreds, I struggled to get past 13.
You move with the left joystick, aim with the right, and fire with the right trigger. This is standard for many shooters, and would not be a problem, except for the fact that there is practically no feedback. Your bullets don’t move fast enough and are not bright enough to leave a trail through the air, so you can’t see where you previously aimed. This means that gameplay devolves into aiming in the general direction of the enemy and holding down the fire button. When combined with slow movement and stilted animation, levels become a slog rather than the fast-paced killing spree they were meant to be.
The character models vaguely look like their respective actors, but the camera is pulled too far away to actually tell. The environments seem like they could have been pulled straight from the movie, with plenty of explosions to go around, but ultimately fall flat because of muted colors. The voice acting is similarly almost there, but not quite. Stallone and Crews spout the occasional one-liner but there are a few double entendre’s about ‘the bush’ too many.
The Expendables 2 feels similar to last summer’s PSN PLAY release Renegade Ops. But where Ops was fast-paced and thrilling, all the more fun with more players, The Expendables 2 is slow and boring, no matter whether you’re accompanied by humans or AI. With a bit more polish the game could have been a blast to play, but the constraint of getting it out in time for the movie must have been too much to overcome. All the pieces are in place, but they have not come together in an enjoyable whole. As it is, the game is much more fun to watch than it is to play so try out the demo if you must, but keep your money for the movie ticket rather than the download code.
The levels feel like sets from the movie
Graphics are technically nice but visually drab, combat is dull and repetitive, Yin Yang sucks.