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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | Expendable
Expendable? Yes, yes it is. - Review By Fragmaster

Expendable LogoExpendable is a game that harkens back to the days of yore, when many videogames simply involved mowing down endless legions of aliens with guns and moving on to the next level, which was exactly the same but harder. Sure, the gameplay in classic shoot 'em ups like Galaga and Contra was simplistic, but it sure was (and still is, depending on who you talk to) a lot of fun.

Most shoot 'em ups have paper-thin plots, and Expendable is no exception. See, by the year 2463, humans have started colonizing once-inhospitable planets by terraforming them. Mankind kept spreading out until they encountered an alien race called The Charva. The Charva took a liking to oxygen and started taking over planets one by one. That's where you come in. You must guide Expendables, human clones which "represent the cream of the human warrior gene pool, pure killing machines with no emotion or interest other than the thrill of the hunt, and the glory of the kill," into battle. In other words, you run around shooting aliens.

  • The Good
    Expendable ScreenshotExpendable looks pretty darn good. There are lots of special effects and the levels themselves look suitably apocalyptic. You can blow up lots of things, and the environments are somewhat interactive.

    The levels in Expendable aren't exactly masterpieces and tend to be really linear, but for the most part you'll happily blast through them without being annoyed by the scenery. The textures are nice, and item placement is fairly well done.

    The interface is straight-forward and easy to use. You can save your game to VMU after every level and easily load them.

    Expendable has decent music and pretty OK sound. Some of the sounds are sub-par, but overall it's perfectly passable.

  • The Bad
    Pop quiz, kiddies. Don't worry, it's multiple choice:

    Expendable's control is:

      A) Annoying
      B) Frustrating
      C) A big pain in the ass
      D) Crappy
      E) All of the above.

    Expendable ScreenshotIf you answered "E," give yourself a smack in the face. When I first started playing Expendable, I thought something was wrong with the controller because I couldn't aim at all. Alas, that wasn't the case. After playing for a few hours I began to grow accustomed to moving my little Expendable around… a little bit. The controls sound really simple in theory, I mean, all you have to do is run around in shoot in eight directions, but it's not. Moving around isn't too hard, but aiming is a whole different bag of balloons. You'll soon discover that the only way you'll actually hit anything is by strafing left and right, then readjusting yourself in a different direction when the aliens attack from another side, and then strafing left and right again. The big problem with this is that if you've got aliens attacking you from more than one side or you're fighting enemies that aren't lined up in neat rows, you're in big trouble.

    And it certainly doesn't help that the camera system isn't that great. At certain points in the game, you're running straight ahead when… BOOM! The camera turns around ninety degrees and it looks like you're moving to your left. There's no warning, and you can really screw up the camera by stepping back and forth between these "zones." The camera really "shines" in two-player cooperative mode, which is nearly impossible to play due to the limited camera area and the fact that both characters look exactly the same.

    The graphics are pretty small, which isn't cool, but the biggest problem with the graphics is the special effects. Sure, they look pretty neat… but they're so over-the-top that they obscure what you're trying to shoot. At some points in the game, the entire screen looks like one big explosion. It's insane.

    Expendable ScreenshotThe gameplay is boring and repetitive. Maybe it'd be fun if you didn't spend so much time swearing about the controls, but the fact that you can't even shoot up aliens properly pretty much ruins the entire game. Besides shooting aliens, you've got to occasionally find keys and blow stuff up. Yee-haw. The AI is what'd you expect: aliens see you, aliens shoot at you, aliens die. There are "missions" that you need to accomplish in each level, but they all amount to shooting and destroying stuff. Oh, and you can save "hostages" too, but since they're just lifeless blinking husks, you'll probably blow most of them up and never even realize they're there. There are eighteen weapons, but nothing special or memorable.

    Replay value is almost nil. Two-player mode is worthless, and after blasting through a particular level you'll have absolutely no reason to revisit it again. Actually, there's not much incentive to finish levels the first time around, I was bored out of my mind by the fifth level.

  • The Final Word
    This game is like a shiny brand new Porsche without an engine: it's nice to look at, but is basically useless. Expendable has the depth of a wading pool, and the control of a three-year old who just ate a month's supply Sugar Pops. Even I, a die-hard fan of shoot 'em ups of all shapes and sizes, couldn't find much to like about Expendable. Unless you're really desperate for game that requires no thinking whatsoever and somehow possess the dexterity to control the damn thing (fat chance), stay far away.

    Developer: Rage
    Publisher: Infogrames
    Genre: Action

    Highs: Good graphics, effects, interface, sound.

    Lows: Gameplay is boring, controls are horrible, camera has occasional crack fits, graphics are small, effects too distracting, no replay value.

    Other: 1-2 Players, VMU Compatible (for saving levels), Jump Pack Compatible.

    Final Score:

    (out of a possible 10)

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