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Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Review
developer: Pandemic Studios
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 31, 08 (released)
|» All About Mercenaries 2: World in Flames on ActionTrip|
Pandemic Studios is best known for games like Full Spectrum Warrior and Star Wars: Battlefront I and II. Mind you, about two years ago the developer had another successful release - Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (Xbox/PS2), which got a positive response from reviewers. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was supposed to build on that and offer a well-polished continuation of a solid third-person shooter. Well, that's what the devs and EA promised anyway.
In Mercs 2, players have a choice to play as one of the three characters - Mattias Nilsson, Jennifer Mui and Chris Jacobs. The story unfolds exactly the same, no matter which one of these you decide on. Okay, each of them might have a few different responses during dialogue, but other than that your choice won't have any effect on gameplay or the narrative. Things start off when the main character arrives to Venezuela, where he (or she) meets a wealthy businessman named Ramon Solano's. You pull off a dangerous task for him and in return, he'll shoot you in the arse. Obviously, you're not prepared to take this lying down. After that, pure vengeance will be the only thing on your mind. Believe it or not, when it comes to plot twists, this scene with Ramon is as good as it gets in Mercs 2. It's a tedious venture from here on. In short, going through the game's narrative is like swimming slowly through a calm ocean of boredom. There are a one or two humorous moments, though noting of note.
Before heading out on each mission, you'll be able to learn details about rebellion going on in Venezuela and the factions involved - the People's Liberation Army of Venezuela, Rastafarian Pirates, Universal Petroleum, the Chinese army and Allied Nations. You can join any one of these. The objective of the game never varies. You'll be given a series of tasks to carry out for heaps and heaps of cash - you are a merc, after all. Each mission can be completed using a different strategic approach. Stealing an enemy tank, for instance, is always a good move. To pull this off, you jump on the tank, wrestle the gunman for a bit (yeah, the ol' button-mashing routine) and then drop a grenade into the bowels armored vehicle. Once the baby is yours, you can use it to enter and enemy camp and slip past unnoticed (if you're careful enough not to cause a ruckus). For me, this happened to be one of the rare enjoyable moments in Mercs 2. You can attack targets from a variety of angles and approaching an enemy base doesn't have to be the same every time.
There's a decent variety of challenges and tasks on offer. Completing them, unfortunately, soon becomes a routine. Also, the choice of weapons is pretty standard, letting you wield the usual "toys" such as rocket launchers, AK-47s and so on. Although, I must admit, we did have fun with the tactical nuke strikes and the MOABs (Mother of All Bombs). Mercenaries 2 also has a solid selection of land and air vehicles on offer, in addition to boats and what have you. Flying choppers is particularly enjoyable. Players are allowed to fly in every direction, land on rooftops, blow up buildings and similar stuff. The destruction and mayhem caused by your character is entertaining for a short while.
Since I mentioned destruction, I have to say that Mercenaries 2 features some of the most impressive explosions I've seen in a video game. It's a shame I cannot compliment anything else in relation to the graphics and sound. It's all either pretty standard or disappointingly outdated.
The game's sandbox gameplay denotes plenty of exploring, hidden extras and GTA-style vehicle hijacking. Sure it sounds okay, but in actuality, it's a game recipe that's being tossed around way too often these days. What's more to the point, is that the whole game feels like an insipid GTA clone that overemphasizes mindless destruction. For some games, this is enough, if it's done with style. In Mercs 2, it just feels pointless and without soul.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames doesn't go anywhere beyond what you'd expect from an average action game these days. It's all there: superficial characters, substandard storyline, all-too-familiar gameplay mechanics and repetitive missions and challenges. Destroying nearly everything in sight is fun, especially when you do this in an armored vehicle or chopper. There's a glimmer of entertainment to be found in the online co-op play, though I'm afraid even this becomes monotonous before long. Not to mention the fact that we encountered bugs such as vehicles and enemy troops disappearing into thin air. And don't get me started on enemy intelligence. Suffice it to say, you'll be piling up corpses with very little effort and thanks to often dim-witted opponents, this doesn't prove to be a rewarding experience.
Now we all know there are countless GTA clones out there, such as Saint's Row, Crackdown or similar games. But at least they offered a few cool concepts of their own. So, to cut a long story short, Pandemic gives us a game rather unworthy of its predecessor; which means fans are bound to be disappointed (if there still are any). On top of that, Mercs 2 simply doesn't have what it takes to compete with today's top shooters.
Online co-op, impressive-looking explosions, vehicles and weapons are enjoyable as is blowing stuff up;
Generally uninteresting gameplay, feeble story, dumb AI, technically flawed, mediocre in every conceivable way.
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