games / Reviews

The Expendables 2 (PSN) Review

August 11, 2012 | Posted by Mark Salmela

Title: The Expendables 2
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: Twin-Stick Shooter
Players: 1 – 4
Rated: M for Mature

Another movie, another movie tie-in video game. Is it just me or are more and more of these movie licensed video games going straight to download now days? If this were 10 years ago you better believe this would have been a full priced retail game. It also probably would have been a third or first person shooter, but that’s beside the point.

The Expendables 2 is a top-down twin-sticks shooter, similar to games like Dead Nation and Commando 3. There are 2 key features that help differentiate Expendables from other games in the twin-stick shooter genre. The first feature is the use of cover. I’ll get into it more in-depth later on but Expendables actually has a cover system you’ll be forced to take advantage of if you want to survive. The second feature is the ability to have 4 player co-op both locally and online, compared to the normal 2 player co-op.

The Expendables 2 nails the source material, although quite honestly it wasn’t very hard to do. The Expendables 2 features the likenesses of Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Dolph Lundgren as they go through various jungles and industrial environments blowing the holy hell out of everything that moves. The game doesn’t try and hide it either, as most of the time your objective is to simply “eliminate every hostile” which is fancy talk for shoot the things that breathe.

The Expendables is at its best when you’re running along with 3 other friends causing as much chaos as possible. There’s a sense of satisfaction when everything on-screen is blowing up that is quite enjoyable. In fact the game is at its worst when there’s nothing blowing up on-screen. At certain moments you’ll have to sit through a bunch of dialogue or to switch to a particular player like Crews to plant some C4 and it’s during these downtimes that all of the flaws of the Expendables start to become more apparent.

There are 2 major issues with the Expendables. First off there’s a serious problem with aiming. For almost every gun in the game there’s no laser sight or any way to tell where your gun will shoot until you actually start shooting. This becomes problematic when you’re trying to shoot long range and basically makes the sniper rifle useless. It’s also a huge issue when enemies are on a different plane then your character. Getting your character to shoot upwards and actually hit your target is way more difficult than it should be. It can become downright infuriating when you’re stuck in a level because the action won’t progress until every enemy is dead but you can’t hit the one jerk left 30 feet above everyone else.

The other major issue with the Expendables is the hit detection. This is somewhat related to the first issue with the lack of ability to tell where you’re aiming but the hit detection is simply screwed up. There are numerous times where I was standing 5 feet away from 3 or 4 enemies and I couldn’t hit a single one. I’ve gone into packs of enemies blasting a shot-gun that did nothing but temporarily stagger a few of them. There’s a bit of a problem when a shotgun isn’t doing damage to a large group of enemies 5 feet away from you. Shotguns are called crowd control for a reason.

The actual missions in the Expendables break down to running along a linear path, killing everything on-screen until the game decides you’ve killed enough enemies to advance. There is the occasional on-rails shooter level inside of a helicopter to help break up the action, but even the on-rails sections don’t feel quite right. As I already mentioned there’s a cover system in place, which becomes a necessity on the hardest difficulty. You can stand over downed players to revive them, but you’ll need to hide behind cover if you want to stay alive for more than a few seconds in tense situations. Having a cover system in a twin-stick arcade shooter just doesn’t work. The whole point of the Expendables is that they’re ass kickers. They don’t hide behind cover and occasionally lean out to shoot their guns, they run in guns-a-blazing ready to kick total ass. The Expendables was meant to be a twin-stick shooter, but there’s no place in the source material or the genre for a cover system.

The Expendables technically has a story set right before the 2nd movie, but if you’re expecting anything more than “there are bad guys, shoot them” you’re only fooling yourself. The game is fully voiced, although it’s rather obvious these are stand in voice actors who clearly phoned it in. Whoever tried to imitate Sylvester Stallone stands out as one of the worst performances, and at times doesn’t even remotely sound like Stallone.

Besides the half-assed voiceovers the graphics are nothing to write home about, with the character models sticking out like a sore thumb. Whoever had the bright idea to have the character models stand out front-and-center on the character selection screen with only a few frames of actual animation deserves to be fired. Considering who you want to play as breaks down to what weapon do you want to use (Stallone gets pistol, Li gets SMG, Crew gets shotgun, and Lundgren gets sniper rifle) they should have just used static pictures of the characters or just said what weapon do you want to start with. You can change to any character at any time mid-game, so there’s no point to selecting an initial character unless you’re playing with other people.

The whole user interface in general is rather bland, along with one of the most uninteresting progression systems ever. While playing you earn XP which can be spent on upgrades such as improved weapons and more health, which is a nice benefit but the whole upgrade system could not look more bland or uninspired. The upgrades themselves may be useful, but there’s nothing more uninspiring then unlocking “more health” for “3000 XP”.


– The explosions are large.
– 4 player co-op online and locally is a lot of fun.
– When the action is tense and explosions are everywhere this game shines bright.
– The game is well balanced, and the revival system is a necessity.


– Anytime things aren’t constantly exploding.
– Cover systems just don’t work in twin-stick arcade shooters.
– The voice acting is bad.
– The levels are uninspired, the graphics are mediocre, and the animation is terrible.
– The upgrade system is barebones.

The 411

I may or may not like on-rails shooters. I also may or may not like games with the words Terror and Target in them.

The Expendables 2 ranks on the lower tier for the top-down twin-stick shooter genre. If you have 3 buddies who love twin-stick shooters, by all means pick this game up. When everything around you is exploding and there are 50 guys on screen trying to kill you the Expendables is a lot of fun to play. Unfortunately for every one thing this game does right, it does 2 things completely wrong. Only serious fans of the source material and the genre need apply. For everyone else, skip the Expendables 2 video game.

Graphics6.0The character modes and animations are terrible. The explosions do look pretty though. 
Gameplay5.0The Expendables is a competent twin-stick shooter, but it doesn’t even come close to any of the good twin-stick shooters. 
Sound3.0The voice acting is laughable, and the sound effects are just plain loud. I didn’t expect to turn down the volume but eventually it just became too much. 
Lasting Appeal7.0The Expendables 2 is actually quite long, although you could have figured that out when you realized all of the upgrades are ridiculously expensive. 
Fun Factor 5.0If you have friends of the genre to play this with, it can be a good time. For everyone else, there’s nothing here for you. 
Overall5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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Mark Salmela
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