Movie licences have a reputation for being awful, and there's a very good reason for that: most of them are absolutely awful. For every Goldeneye there are approximately 12,000 unspeakably poor cash-ins that end up pleasing nobody, and you'll know which camp The Expendables 2 is in after you lay your eyes on the very first menu screen. This is one ugly shindig.
There isn't one. To be fair, the film that inspired it probably doesn't have a story either, but no attempt is made to engage you at all here. A bad Sylvester Stallone mimic announces at the top of the first level that you need to make a "house call" to exterminate a "target" who's a bit of a "bad apple" and the subsequent stages begin in exactly the same way, more or less. Go here, kill him, and move onto the next one.
I'm almost certain that I could write a book about what's wrong with The Expendables 2, and I stand by that statement. To spare me from writing that book here, I'll go over a few main problems in brief.
Everything is upgradable, which means that you play through the game's first two hours with less than nothing in your arsenal. You can't move quickly because you need to upgrade your character first. Reloading your weapon takes the best part of five seconds, because you need you upgrade your character first. Your accuracy is laughable, because you need to upgrade your character first. Earning enough XP to upgrade one character attribute with one upgrade point takes the best part of an hour, and the cost of the higher upgrades rises very quickly indeed… and yet you don't earn XP any faster as you progress through the game. There's an achievement for upgrading all of your characters, a process that would probably take well over 25 hours. If you know anyone who ever manages to do this, point at them, and laugh. Long and hard.
There's a cover system, but you're never really sure when you're supposed to use it. Sometimes you have to march through an environment like an army, killing everyone as you go. Other times, you can't progress until you've cleared an environment of all its enemies, and because you never truly know which of these two systems is in place, you'll die plenty. Your AI comrades can revive you, but this is a tedious process that takes the best part of ten seconds, and more often than not, the teammate reviving you will die as soon as you're revived. So you'll have to revive him immediately afterwards. That's twenty seconds of standing around and doing nothing, and it's the most entertaining part of the whole game.
More fundamentally, the gunplay just isn't fun. Even when you've fully levelled up a character's accuracy, bullets spray all over the shop and rarely hit their target unless you're up close. There's a snazzy slo-mo melee move, but you can only use it when the game tells you that you can use it - which is approximately 1% of the time; and in most case you'll already have shot them before you notice the button prompt anyway. There's an achievement for executing that move 2000 times. After around six hours of play, I'd managed to do that move a maximum of ten times in total. Enjoy.
There are also a few on-rails turret sections, but you can never see what you're hitting, and your gun overheats every six seconds. As in the rest of the game you can't see your bullets either, so although you're meant to be piloting a powerful mini-gun turret, you might as well be captaining a giant pepper grinder.
The Expendables 2 looks like an Xbox Live indie game. From character models that look like they've come straight from the N64 era to fire effects that wouldn't have looked out of place in a PSOne game, it's clear that this is a project that was created on the kind of budget that wouldn't have covered a single light lunch on the Expendables 2's Hollywood movie set.
Some of the worst video games ever made have been movie licences, and The Expendables 2 not only keeps with that tradition, it may have just set a new benchmark. It's ugly, overlong and an absolute chore to play, and gets so many fundamental things wrong that you end up wondering if it's somebody's idea of a joke. Even if you're the most undemanding gamer in the history of human existence, one thing is for sure: this has absolutely no business being 1200 Microsoft points. If you enjoy pain and frustration, jump the hell on in.