Mercenaries 2: World in FlamesPandemic are a small yet amazingly successful development group. Debuting with Playstation 2 titles such as Star Wars: Battlefront, Destroy All Humans and of crouse, Mercenaries; still games that are considered as absolute gold-dust, it’s late 2008 and Pandemic are pulling out all the stops. Firstly the game in question, Mercenaries 2: World In Flames, was released in early September, but their next project is sure to be a huge hit amongst gamers. Lord of the Rings: Conquest, for those of you who didn’t know is a twist on the game-style of Star Wars Battlefront, but thrusts you into the universe of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, set to be released in late January.
Mercenaries 2 is set in war-torn Venezuela, as opposed to North Korea in the first game. An American based oil company known as Universal Petroleum have wormed their way into the economy and have established themselves as the lead oil supplier in Venezuela, meaning the citizens are paying the Americans for something that is theirs. President Solano stands firmly against the Americans with right hand men, General Carmona, and Blanco. Mattias Nillson, the game’s Swedish protagonist happens to receive a contract from Solano during his visit to the country. Solano orders him to rescue Carmona at the very beginning of the game, but when Mattias returns with his palm open they turn on him. Mattias flees and dives into the sea, a single bullet getting lodged in his arse, a humorous point for discussion throughout the entire game. Now enraged by Solano’s betrayal, Mattias is staging his own vendetta against him, because, as they say, “Everybody Pays...”
Mercenaries 2 is known as a “Sandbox Game”, those which offer freedom to roam around such as Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row. As one of the game’s three heroes, Mattias, Jen, or Chris, you traverse the land of Venezuela, the main focus being retrieving missions from clients and doing the jobs. Jobs come as either a paid job, which there are plenty of, or the occasional story driven missions which are unlocked after completing a number of side missions. These smaller parts of the game usually take the form of capturing bases, blowing up enemy territories or assassinating bounty targets. You will have to scour the land for the several factions that give out these missions, from the Universal Petroleum to the Chinese Army who intervene later in the game. The story driven missions aren’t massively epic, but the game has its many set pieces including blowing up an oil rig which is priceless. Unlike most Sandbox games, there is no police force within Mercs 2, instead you are only targeted by hostile factions, but if you build relationships, attacks will become less frequent. The actual core gameplay presents a third person, fully destructible approach. Using the array of weapons and vehicles the game has to offer, you can do just about anything, and blow up pretty much any structure, provided it doesn’t play a key part in the narrative.
In terms of presentation, critics have flamed this game so much, saying that it was just a shoddy last-gen port, but I beg to differ. There are big differences in the PS2 and PS3 versions of the game, despite the facials and character design are still not up to scratch. The main strong point of the game is its fully destructible environment which you can spend hours experimenting with, each building blows up and debris remains to add more realism to the game, hence why the graphical output may not have been spot on. As far as the music goes, it’s a neat scoring, different tracks to suit different moods and events within the game. The song used in the advertising, “Oh No You Didn’t” was one of the reasons I actual bought the game, a personal experience of video game advertising.
Overall, the game is a thrill to play, yet if graphics are everything you may want to step out. It’s a fine piece of destructive gaming, and despite a poor online service, or racks of DLC, Mercenaries 2 has delivered the high quality I would’ve expected for Pandemic’s first next generation title.