Manly grunting amidst big explosions.
Okay. I am not going to start ranting about the woes of movie tie-in games. Frankly, I am bored of having my doubts proved correct every time. When a game comes along that is linked to a movie and is actually good, I will celebrate the fact. But when someone tries to cash in on a movie without making that attempt to produce at least a halfway decent gaming experience, I am just going to ignore the fact that it has anything to do with a movie at all. Big movie coming out? Game to launch alongside? History dictates that it won’t be much good. Let’s just leave it at that.
The Expendables 2 videogame from Ubisoft and ZooyFly is a four-player shooter that casts the player into the role of a mercenary and gives them plenty of stuff to blow up. There are four characters available and each of them have start the game with a different weapon set consisting of a primary weapon, secondary and grenades. Once the player has chosen their character, they begin basically scrolling from left to right through a variety of rather unimpressive environments as they take out wave after wave on fairly similar enemy soldiers.
The mechanics work in a twin-stick manner with moving and aiming controlled by the analogue sticks. There is a slight problem in that there is no aiming reticule or laser sight to show exactly where the player is shooting. This is addressed with the inclusion of a soft lock-on which will automatically target the nearest threat, no matter how much you want to shoot the enemy behind them. The lock-on is activated with the left trigger, which also happens to control the cover mechanic where the player can crouch behind certain environmental objects for protection. It is not really an ideal situation, but it works as well as you would expect. Beyond this, there is a button for grenades and a close combat attack.
Occasionally, the action gets mixed up a bit with the player being able to enjoy some on-rails action from the back of a chopper. Whilst enjoyable for a short time, the somewhat simplistic sequences involve only moving a reticule around the screen and holding the trigger button, releasing occasionally to let the gun cool down. It’s not exactly deep.
Bolstering the game is an upgrade system that allows the player to gradually become more powerful by boosting their weapons and attributes, and the ability to swap characters on the fly whilst playing alone. Otherwise, it is a fairly uninteresting trek through the 20 levels and the many hundreds of dead bodies that will lie in your wake. A hardcore mode is included to make things more difficult, but sadly not more interesting.
Perhaps the saving grace of The Expendables 2 videogame is the inclusion of co-op play, both online and off. Surely anything can be fun when enjoyed with friends, right? Well, not anything, but this game is one of the things that can.
Whether you team up with friends across the Internet, or with buddies in the same room, the general chaos and wanton destruction found in The Expendables 2 is enough to get everyone involved whooping in a manly way. It can’t be taken seriously by any means, but if you get four players of a certain age that remember the types of movies that this game is based on, you can expect the best, and the worst, action hero impressions and cheesy one-liners all in one place. It is pretty good fun, but will only last until the adrenaline and testosterone wears off.
I said at the very beginning that I would not be mentioning the fact that this game is a movie tie-in, because I am fed up with them nearly always being bad. I think I have done quite well getting this far, but now I have to talk about the voices in the game, which means referencing the movie which spawned this title.
The main selling point of the movie is the fact that, for the first time ever, names such as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham, Willis and even Chuck Norris, can be listed on a movie poster together. Unfortunately, the videogame only features four of the big action hero names from the movie. This is something that could have been forgiven, were it not for the voices.
The voices of Jet Li, Terry Crews and Dolph Lundgren are serviceable, which is quite laughable when you consider that a couple of the voices may have been provided by the actual actors. But the Stallone voice is most definitely a voice actor, and not a very good one. Occasionally, you will get a classic one-liner that could have actually been Stallone. Other times, you are left wondering if there is another person standing just off screen doing the talking. It is quite comical.
The Expendables 2 videogame actually shares a lot in common with a certain actor in the movie. They are both battered, but not broken, and both seem to belong in a different era. They are good for a quick burst of action, but become boring after extended periods, and are more enjoyable when with a group of friends. Much like the movie, the videogame can be enjoyed if you disengage your brain and shout a lot. If you want something thought-provoking, you are barking up the wrong gun tower.