Statistics show that video game movie tie-ins work about two percent of the time. Aside from King Kong, Spider-Man 2, and Goldeneye, (strictly back in its day,) few, if any, of these games work out well. Tons of factors weigh into this, and as sad a fact as it is, we’re not here to discuss the industry and its downfalls. Movies like The Expendables were practically built like video games, and yet they still don’t pan out as imagined. So is the case with The Expendables 2: The Video Game, as the adaptation falls short in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to recommend.
Twin-stick shooters aren’t usually known for their originality or depth, but at least games like Dead Nation and Alien Breed are serviceable good times. Unlike the braindead adrenaline rush film that the game is based on, it’s impossible to enjoy the cheesy one-liners. Or the huge cast of action stars. Or the explosive action that makes up for any of the flaws. The Expendables 2: The Video Game is what happens when you take the fun out of a series that depends on just that.
The first mistake is the lacking cast. Rather than surrounding players with every action hero to grace the screen in recent memory, the game presents us with four. Choosing between Sly, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Dolph Lundgren isn’t that hard, as all have their own distinct weapon, and only about half of them are effective. Only two members of the cast do their respective voice overs (Crews and Lundgren), and the other two replacements are downright hilarious. Not because of clever writing or anything, just because Stallone sounds like he’s possessed by the ghost of Marlon Brando.
Although this game adaptation is meant to bridge the two films, the story doesn’t get past one sentence: rescue nameless hostage from captors. The films aren’t exactly paragons of narrative, but come on, they at least broke a paragraph. Fans expecting some fantastic moments and explosive action that helps make the upcoming sequel make sense will be sorely disappointed to find the game lacking both.
The graphics on display, while serviceable, are unimpressive and dull. Most of the environments are repeated, and none of them stand out. The ho-hum audio consists of guns firing, enemies screaming, and a ton of explosions. Like, a TON of explosions. Sadly, no amount of fun-splosions can make up for the gameplay, which is what ultimately keeps The Expendables 2 from succeeding.
Similar to the typical top-down shooter, players control a character who looks a bit too far away and shoot everything that moves. Eschewing pickups for weapons, you won’t find much variety in what’s lying on the ground. Sometimes it’s a machine gun, other times it’s a shotgun or a rocket launcher. Other than that, there are a few pieces of flair laying around that help charge up a meter that unleashes a signature attack on an enemy. Seeing as how you’re constantly being bombarded by fodder, this power seems like more of a way to show off each character. Honestly, though, they do look pretty good. They’re just hardly worth the effort.
The upgrade system isn’t anything special, as you can choose to run faster, hit harder, or have more health. Each gun has a few tiers of upgrades, but nothing extensive either. If you really care, you can throw $3 at some DLC and start the game with every character fully upgraded. However, after spending $15 on the game itself, you won’t be jonseing to spend anymore.
If you like your explosions and gun fights to be bland and repetitive, then you will absolutely love The Expendables 2. The camera is pulled back so far that it’s almost impossible to see yourself or your teammates once the action heats up, and trying to shoot your way out is a pain. Guns don’t have laser sights, and this oversight is one of the biggest mistakes in the game. Bullets are fired ineffectively into trees, into cars, into walls, into literally anything but enemies unless they’re standing a foot in front of you. Why this happened is never clear, and it does nothing to help the already “meh” gameplay.
So what we’re left with is an unpolished mess that isn’t as fun as the property it’s based off of. Not even those looking for a small time killer should invest in this, as there are many better twin-stick titles that cost either the same or less and are high quality releases. By taking everything fun out of The Expendables franchise, The Expendables 2: The Video Game fails on every level. Any fans looking for a fun little romp to distract them until the film comes out should give this a pass, as this resembles the film about as much as Sly Stallone resembles a good actor.
This article is based on a copy of the game that we received for review purposes.
The Expendables 2: The Video Game, as an adaptation, falls short in so many ways that it's nearly impossible to recommend.