Occasionally we find ourselves hankering after some proper old-school shoot ‘em up action – let’s face it, nothing alleviates the stress of another painful commute like blowing ten shades out of an endless army of grunts. Expendable: Rearmed is an update of an old Dreamcast classic (remember the Dreamcast, kiddies? Sega sure does) and precisely what you need to sate your bloodlust, arming you with all manner of ridiculous weapons and letting you run riot on a legion of hapless foes.
There is a plot, involving an evil race of aliens known as the G’neng attacking humanity for the sheer hell of it, but to be honest you won’t be missing out if you skip the brief text intros to each level and get straight down to killing stuff. As the game’s description says: “If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t move, blow it up.” Don’t expect to be solving complex puzzles along the way either. This is non-stop action from start to finish, and we’d expect nothing less.
The touchscreen controls are simple: there aren’t any on-screen buttons but you move around by sliding your thumb on the left side of the display, and shoot in a given direction by sliding your other thumb on the right side (mimicking a standard dual-analogue-stick setup). It takes a little while to get used to the shooting method, and we’d prefer to simply tap in the direction we want to fire. Things get especially confusing when the camera angle suddenly shifts without warning, which occasionally happens in the middle of a huge firefight. If a game ever needed controller support, it’s this one.
The environments are a nice blend of industrial areas, rocky landscapes and alien nature, and graphics on the whole are smooth and suitably shadowy, but you’ll barely notice as you’ll be so busy firing a bajillion bullets at the onslaught of enemies. Every new gun you pick up is added to your arsenal, and you can use many of them together simultaneously, until eventually you’re blasting a wall of projectiles, missiles and fire at your foes. It’s not uncommon for the screen to be filled with epic explosions, and quite a lot of the scenery is destructible, occasionally revealing secret areas crammed with points or goodies.
Enemies are generally quite dumb but the sheer number of them gives a decent challenge, and you’ll face massive bosses at the end of each level which take a serious pounding to defeat. It’s a shame that little thought is required in these battles: you can beat them simply by running around like a mentalist and keeping your finger on the trigger. Still, if you’re after some brain-free carnage, Expendable is strangely satisfying.
Expendable: Rearmed is available now for Android from the Google Play Store and nVidia Tegra Store, for just £1.99