Wot I Think: The Expendables 2 Videogame

By John Walker on August 21st, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

I pressed Q. I'm not actually playing this bit.

Wuoh, durs a game ob Dur Expendabbles 2 mooovie. Wiv Stallone an Li an Quews an Lungween. Urm gunna punch it in dur face. Ere’s wot i fink:

Here’s what I was expecting the Expendables 2 game to be: A third-person action. And shit. But sometimes things can surprise you. The Expendables 2 game is in fact a four-player co-op top-down shooter. And shit.

This is a special kind of shit, though. This isn’t just your typical dodgy old film tie-in that’s derivative and disposable. This is premium shit, from only the fartiest bottoms. It’s a mess of the most impressive order. From achingly repetitive and unresponsive shooting, to menus that look like they were put together for a 2005 YouTube video with Windows Movie Maker, it reeks of rushed uninterest. And shit.

Starring four of the movie’s eighty-seven million famous actors, you get to control either Barney Ross, Gunner Jensen, Yin Yang or Hale Caesar (Sly Stallone, Dolph Lungreen, Jet Li and Terry Crews) in some excruciatingly awful shooting sequences, again and again and again. With only Lungreen and Crews not having any better offers than a cheque for recording their voices, extras are brought in for the bigger stars. In fairness, Stallone’s voice is pretty well mimicked. Li’s… it doesn’t even sound like someone tried to do an impression of him. So that’s a promising start.

If anything, the game seems to try to hark back to those 1980s days of Ocean Software churning out ghastly games-of-the-films, with barely a similarity to the source material. (This is a prequel to the events of the film, apparently.) If its aim was to match this inspiration, then good work guys!

(In fact, on that matter, can I point you in the direction of a 1995 Amiga Power feature on the topic by Stuart Campbell, in which he rails against the people who are buying this stuff such that it keeps getting made, which so timelessly contains the line:

“Nobody’s making you, nobody’s standing there with a gun at your head, but you still flock down to the shops and fork out money for the latest dull-witted Stallone action platformer (except it doesn’t have Stallone in it, because that costs extra, and why bother when the dumb saps will buy a box of dismembered dog’s organs as long as it’s got the film poster on the box?) as soon as you see the nice pretty pictures on the nice glossy advert.”

Indeed.)

It’s ridiculously clumsy, with a camera that appears to be determined to hide anything that’s shooting at you, madly zooming in the moment there’s some laser-guided sniper far off screen, or wandering off leaving the character you’re “controlling” (when playing single-player, you can switch between the four) somewhere off the bottom. There’s supposedly a cover system, but the only way to use it is to waddle your action hero so incredibly close to the sandbags that they exchange phone numbers, and then hold down the use cover key to stay there. In the frantic hodgepodge of dozens of AI men spinning in circles, running in random directions, and occasionally just jumping up and down on the spot (no, really), finding which character you’re currently controlling is challenging enough, let alone seeing whether he’s pressed intimately enough against the cover point for the giant prompt to appear. And that’s when something offers cover – this appears to be arbitrary.

A new level might declare that you’re rescuing a hostage – ooh, maybe something different here? No. There’s not even the visual appearance of a hostage at any point, instead just more of the same broken shooting tedium. The only time you find out that the enemies smuggled away the hostage you were apparently trying to rescue (even given the instruction not to kill him, as if he might appear at some point) is in the cutscene afterward, as otherwise that might have required the game do something slightly complicated.

Brilliantly characters can continue planting bombs on objects after they’re dead (although of course only where the game loudly informs you that you have to, rather than through your own choice of tactics). Your teammates will walk on the spot into each other, like insane mimes, during cutscenes – scenes that see you getting shot at before control is handed back. But you don’t always need to worry about enemies getting in the way, because a good deal of the time they’ll just pop out of existence in front of you. Seven of them will pour impossibly out of a car, or a doorway, and then – ping! – four of them disappear.

However, when they don’t, even on “casual” difficulty you’re often overwhelmed with far too many enemies on screen to be able to see what’s going on, and almost none of them recognising the fact that you’re shooting right at them. This isn’t helped by team AI that seems absolutely intent on dying, although bearing in mind the game they’re inside, perhaps this is just desperation. Of course, you could always fix the need for using the AI by finding three other people to play the game with you… Ha ha. Sorry, I was joking there.

Although I must be fair – there’s more to it than just the shooting. Betwixt levels you have the opportunity to spend the XP you’re apparently gathering on upgrades to both your skills and weapons. Well, that’s when it occasionally gives you enough XP to do this, to make such radical improvements as increasing the ammo capacity of your pistols. It’s so sparingly given, and the rewards so trivial, that it offers no incentive to continue. And while various levels move away from just running in a straight line (and it mostly is literally a straight line) they don’t offer anything that improves on the terrible target recognition, nor clumsy presentation, and tiresome, noisy nonsense. (That would be something though, wouldn’t it? A game that lets you improve the in-game performance and overall quality through upgrades.)

Well, you know what – they might. Later in the game it might become bloody Shakespeare for all I know, or the tale of a kitten stranded on a surfboard in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Because I’m buggered if I’m going to waste any more of my life churning through it. Not that this often presents an enormous challenge, since most sections can be more quickly completed by running past everyone, rather than shooting at them. Occasionally a giant invisible wall will demand you blow a thing up, or something, but mostly you can sprint your way through as if trying to escape.

Short of infecting your computer with a virus and emailing porn to your mum, it’s hard to see how it could be much worse. It’s so astonishingly cheap and tacky throughout, right down to an insulting PC port. Take a look at these video options!

Starting a new game offers you “Campaign”, which you’d imagine would then at least pretend to offer a single-player mode. Instead you’re presented with options you’d usually expect to see when clicking “Multiplayer”, with matchmaking to join current games, or the option to host your own. That’s how you actually start playing – host and don’t invite anyone else in. Don’t. Don’t invite anyone in. Because that’s a bit like inviting someone to come and see a poo you just did. Sure, it’s a remarkable pile of shit you’ve got there, but no one else is going to want to see it.

And so it is that The Expendables 2 Videogame has continued that great tradition of movie tie-ins being abominations, thrown together with little care in order to try to milk money out of passing enthusiasts of the film. It’s a tradition that goes right back to our Spectrum and arcade routes, and one we should continue to celebrate by ignoring and remembering there are a ton of great games being released about now.

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170 Comments »

  1. Rich Tea says:

    Company Of Zeroes

  2. iGark says:

    This review has a crazy amount of parentheses.

    • alundra says:

      A low point for Mr Walker. He tried hard to be funny and entertaining, and failed miserably at both, but I forgive him, no movie has a ever made it into a good video game, other than the first two batmans for the NES, but sunsoft is no longer among the living.

      • John Walker says:

        Thanks, mum.

      • moms pubis says:

        Ahem. Tron 2.0 would like a word with you.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Tron 2.0 wasn’t really a movie game any more than Star Wars games are movie games.

      • Premium User Badge

        c-Row says:

        Chronicles Of Riddick is on line #2.

        • alundra says:

          Yeah, I keep hearing good things about Riddick, if the steam version is not patched to remove starforce any time soon I will get it from gog.

          As for the rest that were mentioned, I actually like Alien Vs. Predator, the latest one, where as the general consensus is that it’s a total turd. I guess personal taste accounts for much and that there are more exceptions to the rule out there, but this is like part of video games itself, 99% of the time you can be sure that a game based off a movie is going to suck big time.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        ‘Street Fighter’ was a terrible movie, but the games that were based on it were brilliant.

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          felisc says:

          oh you just tease me to post this, don’t you
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_Fighter:_The_Movie_(home_video_game)
          what a gem

          • Eddy9000 says:

            I didn’t even know…
            That’s the last time I ever try to make a clever joke on this forum ever again.

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            Did anyone else just hear a plane take off?

            @Eddy9000 Don’t stop with the jokes, I just laughed my arse off and back on again in the space of a few seconds reading that little exchange. ;)

          • rlr149 says:

            RJ was brilliant in that…..

            “This is merely superconductor electromagnetism. Surely you’ve heard of it……….”

            “For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life……… But for me, it was Tuesday.”

            ” Tell you what. After I’ve crushed my enemies, we’ll see about getting you published. That should cheer you up, hmmm?”

            movies a comedy, watch it as such.

            *reply fail, @alundra in comment below

        • Vagrant says:

          You should be put to coals for insulting the eternal performance of Raul Julia as Bison.

          • alundra says:

            I never knew how to feel about that, the guy was such a great actor that imprinted a lot of depth to the character, yet that movie to be his final act…..

          • Flint says:

            If it makes you feel any better, he chose that role so he could spend more time with his kids (who were huge Street Fighter fans) before passing away.

      • sinister agent says:

        There’s a pattern that goes back decades – there’s an example of it in that AP feature linked in the review: games based on films are always terrible… except when the game is released many years after the film. In those cases, the games tend to be no worse than any other game, and in several cases turn out to be excellent.

        Die Hard Trilogy was a pretty decent collection. Dune was apparently good (never played it). Aliens Vs Predator (the good one) is still outstandingly fun, although it kind of cheats by using several films. And then there’s the platform-selling, genre-redefining Goldeneye….

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          “Die Hard Trilogy”

          So. Much. Fun.

          • PoLLeNSKi says:

            Yep I’ll third that Die Hard Trilogy was great…

            also since we’re talking movie franchise tie-in games – ofcourse AvP was awesomeness…

            I think both were released on separate schedules to the movies though

            (checks wiki)

            Yeah Alien 3 was a year before AvP and Die Hard with a Vengeance was a year before Die Hard Trilogy

            Also Goldeneye.

        • Skabooga says:

          Although I’ve never played it, I’ve heard tell that the Blade Runner video game is pretty good.

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            Llewyn says:

            Blade Runner was an excellent game, but it fits with the original proposition that games which are not related to film releases are often exceptions. Also it was very deliberately not an adaptation of the film, but a parallel story in the same setting.

          • Nallen says:

            It’s really good.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Yes, Die Hard Trilogy was amazing. In fact, it was the best Christmas bonus I ever got.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          Dune was a pretty good adventure game – but not really related to the film. Dune 2 was also good (pretty much the first RTS), but also not really related to the film, or the first game. (I can’t think of any other games where the sequal was so utterly different from the first one).

      • Phantoon says:

        In his defense, he only comes across as someone as surly as someone having to deal with this terrible, terrible game.

      • Rupert484 says:

        Spider-Man 2 on consoles was pretty great.

        • Outright Villainy says:

          Also, that’s like one of the only games on the list that was a timed tie in, I think it actually came out before the movie (or at least I saw it before anyway, so the entire plot was ruined for me)

  3. Premium User Badge

    santheocles says:

    http://armorgames.com/play/3955/upgrade-complete

    There you go! Upgrade till you drop.

    • Dys Does Dakka says:

      I played to completion, fully upgraded my ship, and got the Good Ending.

      WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?

      • Grygus says:

        I don’t know, but after reading your comment, I did the same thing. So… thanks?

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Hai, maybe you can help me. I’ve decided to RP a bomber, like some kind of futuristic B-52 with all missile turrets, but in terms of min-maxing is it better to go with several level 1 turrets or less of them but fully upgraded ?

      • El_Emmental says:

        There is a 12 upgrade-elements limit on you upgradeable-ship.

        For some unknown reason, you can’t upgrade that number. Probably in the sequel, who’s gonna be a real upgrade from the first one.

        First fill all these upgrade slots, then upgrade your missiles tower.

    • El_Emmental says:

      My vision is now upgraded.

      (…damn you santheocles, you and your excellent game ! :P)

  4. Valvarexart says:

    Hmm, the movie isn’t out until tomorrow here.

    • McDan says:

      Saw it today: go in with the lowest expectations of any film ever and you’ll have fun laughing right in their faces. It’s as if they thought the first one was too serious and decided to go over the top ridiculous, which is better. But have low expectations and you can enjoy it.

      • Obc says:

        what are you talking about? go with the expectations you have of a 80′s, early 90′s movie like commando, predator, rambo, american ninja, bloodsport, demolition man, tango and cash, cobra. the movie delivers all the goods you want in a 80′s testosterone fueled action movie. don’t think its going to be citizen kane or the godfather. it isnt trying to be anything else but a cheesy, over the top, funny action movie and thats all it wants you to expect by listing all the oldschool action stars.

        expect everything you have dreamed of as a child about a movie in which stallone gets to fight van damme. imagine norris showing up to save schwarzenegger. its low brow, true, but a a great class action movie. i had high expectation for that and it was awesome.

        the middle part. after van damme shows, up drags a bit till the next action sequence. but once the final actions starts, it marvelous. i also like that they give more one-liners and funny traits to the stars (e.g.: dolph lundgren as the chemist)

        the willis and shwarzenegger exchange was hilarious (i love how arnold delivers the yippy ka yay in his dry/fun tone).

        i also love the ridicilous chain use at the end during stallone vs. van damme fight. its was soo cheesy and over the top.

        FUCK YEAH. i want more action stars and more action overall. this wasn’t enough.

        i think snipes, eastwood and ford are being asked to join the 3rd part. i hope they also contract seagal for a cameo. one seen is enough for him, norris worked so well in this movie because we wasnt overused. sadly Jet Li could have had more scenes.

        the statham stallone dynamic made this feel fresh. newschool and oldschool.

        i also want to see motherfuckin’ Chow Yun Fat dualwielding two guns with pidgeons flying around him as he delivers the bullets to a bajillion enemies and some crazy Jackie Chan action.

        yeah i wrote a lot because a childhood dream has come true (and i guess this was what the stallone was going for when pitching this movie)

        • McDan says:

          This is true, though low expectations also make it better. Above all it’s a funny film, as well as very actiony. The one-liners are just too corny to have been planned to be delivered seriously, and it works. An above average action film saved by it’s over the topless and willing to not be taken seriously.

        • Brigand says:

          Aww lad, you could’ve warned about the spoilers! now the story’s ruined!

        • mseifullah says:

          The movie totally delivered on what I was expecting: ridiculous over-the-top action, a story that’s just coherent enough to support the action, and beefcake actors poking fun at themselves from time to time.

          I’m hoping that the third will have The Rock in there. A Seagal cameo and Snipes as the villain would be amazing too.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        “go with the expectations you have of a 80′s, early 90′s movie like commando, predator, rambo, american ninja, bloodsport, demolition man, tango and cash, cobra.”

        It had better be pretty fucking good after that build up.

        • sinister agent says:

          Those are some very different films, really. Rambo is decent, dramatic, and barely an action film. Predator is a horror film, and far more intelligent than people give it credit for. Er… Tango and Cash is a coming of age drama about a dancer staging a heist (I haven’t seen it, shut up).

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            I think Predator’s reputation suffers from constant comparisons to Alien/s. They’re all solid films (barring the AVP stuff, which is beyond awful) but I’m the only person I know who actually prefers Predator 2 to the original. Heresy, I know.

          • Nethlem says:

            Predator 2 is one of the most underrated movies in history.
            Seriously without that movie we would be missing a huge part of Predator canon.
            Also: Dancing Predators

  5. Legionary says:

    So all things considered, a 7/10?

  6. SkittleDiddler says:

    Was anyone expecting any less?

  7. BaronWR says:

    Not to be suspiscious, but I do wonder if the poor rate of XP gain has anything to do with being able to buy fully upgraded characters as DLC…

  8. TheManfromAntarctica says:

    Maybe the game improves if you buy the four DLCs.

  9. fallingmagpie says:

    Reads like an 8.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I was really looking forward to this, but only an 8? Definitely cancelling my pre-order.

  10. Ernesto says:

    That…was kind of entertaining. The article, that is.
    edit: Wow! It’s released by Ubi? Seems like they lack a quality management department. Maybe that explains the strange decisions concerning DRM, delays and stuff.

    • The Random One says:

      Ubi also published an Avatar tie-in game (the Pocahontas in space movie, not the cool not-anime series) so they might be the only publisher who didn’t get the memo about tie-in games not being profitable any more.

  11. thesisko says:

    Who the hell is “Lungreen”?

    • Baines says:

      Sounds like a nasty lung disease. I hope Dolph Lundgren never suffers from it.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      It’s a funny joke. He made funny jokes out of all the names. LIKE A FUNNY MAN.

      • Baines says:

        The first paragraph, with the funny names, uses “Lungween.” The fourth paragraph, with the real names (Sly Stallone, Jet Li, Terry Crews), uses “Lungreen.” His name is Lundgren.

  12. Ayam says:

    I like the reference to Ocean Software there; not sure if Ocean did the following, but Rolling Thunder was the cash-in movie title most in my mind. A close second was Navy SEALS.

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      Harlander says:

      Indeed! A reference to Ocean’s ropey film tie-ins took me back to my childhood reading ST Format

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      Llewyn says:

      The one I always think of at times like this is Cobra, a 25 year old game I never played based on a movie I haven’t seen. I seem to remember Zzap 64 giving it something like 13%.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Petethegoat says:

    One has to wonder if this really needed a review.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe if the game was an exception to the rule (the rule being: computer games based on movies will be underfunded, uninspired and rushed) but it’s not. It seems strange to think that anyone who reads RPS would even consider going anywhere near this game, irrespective of whether they enjoy the movie or not.

      • John Walker says:

        Er, you realise we can’t tell if games are good or not before reviewing them, right?

        • SiHy_ says:

          So you genuinely believed The Expendables 2 Videogame had a chance to be good? Fair enough. I look forward to your upcoming Bachelorette Videogame review. :p

  14. Premium User Badge

    Aquarion says:

    This is why I would prefer it if you added a numerical score to your reviews. Having read though that, I have no idea what you actually thought of the game taken as a whole, and whether it was worth the purchase at the current price point.

    Admittedly, it might help if I read some of the words, but the pictures are not illuminating and the lack of a numerical score is needlessly aggravating.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      Read the last paragraph. The last paragraph always tells more than any score could.

      • sinister agent says:

        Or read … well, anything at all in the review. Is there a single sentence of this that doesn’t make it clear it’s awful?

        • Narzhul says:

          Well clearly calling it an abomination and a money-milking of enthusiasts of the story means that it’s a 9 out of 10.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          A couple, which is two more lines than there are in the OP’s post suggesting that he’s serious.

    • aronbarco says:

      ye, I couldn’t tell if he hated the game without a big ZERO either.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I thought it was funny. Particularly aggravating.

    • MD says:

      Man, I miss the days before trolling became a catch-all word to describe everything ever. Nowadays you’re a troll if you post anything from horrible bullying to mindless gibberish to an unpopular opinion to what we used to call ‘a joke with even the tiniest hint of subtlety’.

      • MD says:

        There’s a sort of running joke around the ‘need’ for numerical scores — a lot of people see them as stupidly reductive, while others seem to care less about the words in a review than about the number tacked on at the end, and complain when one is absent. The latter are frequently mocked by the former.

        I am confident that Aquarion’s aim was to create humour rather than annoyance, because he put up only the minimal facade of seriousness required by the laws of parody.

        His first paragraph jars against the merciless and unsubtle hatchet-job it refers to, while the second all but explicitly tells the reader: ‘yes, don’t worry, I am joking’.

        So there you go! I hope you’re laughing now.

      • mispelledyouth says:

        SCOREFACE!

        Consider yourself enlightened.

    • PacketOfCrisps says:

      “Short of infecting your computer with a virus and emailing porn to your mum, it’s hard to see how it could be much worse. It’s so astonishingly cheap and tacky throughout, right down to an insulting PC port.”

      10/10

  15. Olivaw says:

    If this game were even half the quality of the film it was based on, it would have been game of the year.

    Oh well. It’s a movie tie-in game, who cares?

  16. sinister agent says:

    “So, how did we do score-wise, then?”

    “Hang on, I’ll just check. (Flick flick) You got 36 percent.”

    “Blimey, that’s a bit stiff. Which one was that?”

    “That was all of them put together.”

    “(click).”

    Just another day on AMIGA POWER.

    God, I miss AP. And hope, joy, etc.

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    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    It actually looks quite good, in the screenshots. I guess art assets are cheaper than good game.

  18. Eddy9000 says:

    Pfft, I’ll wait for the Steam sale.

  19. MD says:

    I see through you John, this whole piece was clearly an excuse to get yourself quoted on the box.

    “…stunning…” – IGN

    “very… playable” – GameSpot

    “This is premium shit, from only the fartiest bottoms.” – Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  20. Keroton says:

    Looking at the game footage, I cannot stop myself thinking that I would like the new Commandos game to look like this.

  21. Skabooga says:

    Man, it’s one of those reviews where you know how it’s going to end by the time you’re finished with the alt-text. What did John do to the Hivemind that would earn him such punishment?

  22. Spacewalk says:

    What mean expendable?

  23. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Ironically, the game’s actually quite good.

  24. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    magazines like this one, who try to make pointless qualititive judgements based on abstract principles of merit are (a) wasting our breath, time and effort banging our heads against a brick wall, and (b) hence ultimately as doomed as the Amiga itself.

    If it’s any consolation, I consider RPS the finest rebuttal of SC’s dire predictionof point (b).

  25. pertusaria says:

    Thanks for the link to the AP article. I particularly liked the gloomy last paragraph.

  26. BluElement says:

    I saw this article and I knew it would be wonderfully horrible. I would’ve skipped the review completely if I wasn’t so sure I would get a laugh from the author. So thank you for that. It made my work day a little less awful. :)