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The Expendables 2 PS3 Review

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The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2

Image © Ubisoft
Video games based on movies are a notoriously loathsome bunch (recent examples include the disappointing tie-in with Disney/Pixar's "Brave" and Activision's annoying game based on "The Amazing Spider-man" but those are just two of many) and so the launch of a shooter connected to Lionsgate's "The Expendables 2" (opening on August 17, 2012 with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis) should lead to skepticism. However, there have been a few engaging downloadable titles based on Summer movies like "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and so you might hope that a simplified action game based on a Sly project could be just the adrenaline rush you need this time of year. Sadly, all hope dissipates mere minutes into this stale, unfocused, and downright glitchy title.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Low Price, Non-Stop Action
  • Cons: Repetition, Aiming Issues, Difficulty Spikes, Pathetic A.I.

Available exclusively (for now) on the PlayStation Network for $14.99 (cheaper if you're a PlayStation Plus member -- $11.99), "The Expendables 2" focuses on co-op play as you and three online friends take on the roles of Barney Ross (Stallone), Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Crews), and Yin Yang (Li). Each character starts with different weapons and boasts different skill sets but they're largely interchangeable, not unlike the four characters in an old-fashioned action-arcade co-cop like "Gauntlet." They have different skills but they're really just there to destroy the enemy as quickly as possible. Pick one and head out on the path of destruction.

Gameplay

The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2

Image © Ubisoft

Gameplay in "The Expendables 2" is about as simple as it gets and that's one of the main problems. When you randomly kill your 1,000th stupid enemy, there's really not much thrill left in the action. I say "randomly" because the rapid fire approach of "The Expendables 2" is a quantity over quality dynamic. The enemy is that way -- fire in that direction. Don't bother to aim. Hit the melee button if you need to. Throw your grenades. But, mostly, constantly, just fire your weapons. You'll unload thousands, maybe millions, of shells by the time "The Expendables 2" ends and it gets numbing after just a short period of time much less over the entire experience.

To be fair, there is a bit of variation to the combat -- you start with standard weapons but can pick up others like rocket launchers in-level and some characters are required to plant explosives or fulfill other level-specific needs -- but not enough to alleviate the repetition. It doesn't help that the enemies you face have the lowest threshold of A.I. in any game in a long time. They run right into your gunfire in wave after wave without a single ounce of strategy. It's understandable that one shouldn't expect "Call of Duty"-level flanking abilities in a downloadable title based on "The Expendables 2" but there's a lot of room between that and this frustrating experience. You shoot. They shoot. Again and again and again.

As the game progresses through four chapters with multiple levels, you do earn XP that allows for upgrades to make it a little more customizable. However, even these elements feel poorly developed. Almost every element of the game has that stink of a title that wasn't even on the drawing board until a month or two ago. "Wait! We need an Expendables game! Somebody get on that!" It's upsetting to play a game that feels like it has about as much creativity and passion behind it as a McDonald's Happy Meal toy.

Graphics & Sound

Some of the extended sequences like a helicopter shoot-out look decent but "The Expendables 2" mostly looks below average in the graphics department. As for sound, it's just about noise -- louder, bigger, more explosions -- and none of it is well-designed. The less said about the bad Sly impression by the lead character, the better.

Overall

The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2

Image © Ubisoft
Gamers have long bemoaned the fact that the titles they pick up based on their favorite movies never live up to their expectations. The good thing about "The Expendables 2" is that it came out so far in advance of the actual movie that fans of the Sylvester Stallone action hit are more likely to have forgotten about the game before they make the mistake of buying it.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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