The Expendables 2: Deploy and Destroy is a flash game that was made to promote the movie, The Expendables 2. It is a tower defense styled game which tasks the player in protecting the HQ with turrets and up to three soldiers.
Below is a detailed analysis of this game roughly following Brian Winn's1 Design/Play/Experience framework, including:
The developers of this game were hoping to promote the movie The Expendables 2 so players would go see it. The creators hope the game would:
- Make players learn the basic premise of the movie
- Make players learn which actors (if they favor any) are in the movie
- Convey why The Expendables 2 is the best action movie of Summer 2012
- Tell players when and where they can go see it
- Make players want to see it
The basic story for the game pits an elite group of soldiers known as The Expendables against waves of bad guys (It's not clear who they are). Waves of enemies approach and The Expendables must fend off foot soldiers, tanks, and helicopters.
Apart from this, there is not much of a clear backstory. The storytelling of the game does give insight into the fundamental focus of the movie which is to get big name action movie actors such as Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris and have them all in a big action packed movie. However making this into a tower defense game with an unclear storyline and nearly identical levels detracts from giving players any idea of what the movie is actually about.
In the game, the player goes through a training level and five levels of increasing difficulty. In each one they control up to three Expendables each with different weapons and abilities. Players put down defense turrets in predetermined locations that can be upgraded. There are four different kinds of turrets. (minigun, cannon, missiles, shock). Enemies enter from multiple locations and follow along paths to get the HQ to damage it.
There is a training level which consists of a single expendable, a few turrets and a single path which enemies will follow. This quickly sets the stage for what the player should expect.
An endless mode is also available which allows players to pick their three expendables to play on an entirely different map from the other six "story" missions.
Aside from increasing difficulty and the introduction of new characters, nothing else changes overtime. There's not much of storyline the game follows, it simply plays out as a slaughter, and if this game is supposed to be an accurate reflection of the movie, the movie doesn't appear to be that interesting if this is all there is to it.
The basic mechanics that reflect the movie are established within the first 5 minutes, the rest seem rather unnecessary and monotonous. This game just becomes another tower defense much like a very trimmed down Defense Grid: Awakening. And much like other Tower Defense games, at any given point, it feels too hard or too easy.
The layout is intricate, but straightforward. Knowing hotkeys are essential for efficient unit movement. There's not much that needs to be learned other than what certain turrets do and what the abilities of the expendables are. But these are picked up fairly quickly. Overall the user experience is fairly easy.
The UI is fairly straightforward, and I grant it bonus points for not being very text heavy either. It also features pop-up context menus for the turrets that allow the player to sell, upgrade, or repair them after they have picked a turret type they want built.
The main menu features a link to watch the movie, view achievements, learn how to play, and play the game. At all times on the top left the user can click "Buy Tickets" to find where the movie is playing and buy tickets for the movie. If they don't watch the trailer, they will be subjected to it anyway before they open a level for the first time. It is possible to skip it each time, but it autoplays.
The player isn't forced to watch the trailer, but it's put right in front of them. Trailers are what sell movies, and the game alone probably wouldn't sell the movie nearly as well without the trailer.
The Expendables 2: Deploy and Destroy is a game built in Flash that will run in any browser that supports Flash. It runs on any operating system. Even on a system with low system specifications, a flash game will run on it. The game makes use of 2D, cartoon graphics as realism is unimportant for portraying an already unrealistic action movie. By presenting it on Flash, it makes it easily accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. A Flash game is ideal for promoting a movie as I don't believe many people would want to take the time to download a promotional game.
There was no formal assessment or study on the effectiveness of the game in how effective it was at getting players to want to see the movie. If I were however to design such a study the experiment group would play the game and the control group would watch the trailer. Before and after the experiment, I'd ask if anyone would like to see the movie The Expendables 2. If the game increased the percentage of people who said yes by any amount it would prove to be successful, if more people said yes than those who just watched the trailer, then it would prove that the game was in fact more effective than just the trailer.
However I do not believe that the game is any more effective in promoting the movie than the trailer as the game does not seem to give any insight into what the movie is about that isn't already presented in the trailer that's available in-game.
Overall I don't feel as though The Expendables 2: Deploy and Destroy does an adequate job of informing the player of The Expendables 2 any better than the movie trailer on its own. It merely features cameos of the characters in the movie, and the character sprites don't even look like Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, or any of the other featured actors. The icon and voice clips for them are the only things that lead the player to believe they are controlling characters from the movie.
On a basic level, yes, it informs the player of The Expendables 2 but no better than a poster or a movie trailer. A flash game that gives little to no insight on what the movie is actually about is not the way to go about advertising a movie. A flash game could have worked, but a tower defense that had the player performing the same task over and over with minor variation was not the way to go about doing it. What would've been better would be to have it at least tell a story along the way and correspond to events in the beginning of the movie.