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Wednesday | October 17, 2018
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Mercenaries 2: World In Flames (X360 & PS3)

Mercenaries 2: World In Flames (X360 & PS3)

Mercenaries 2: World In Flames is set to appeal to the destructive side of everyones nature. You can blow up buildings, destroy tanks and set things on fire. So far it sounds good, but can this game stand out from the pack and grab your attention, long term? We aim to find out.

Initially you get to play as one of three characters – Jennifer Mui (sounds like Kylie Minogue), Chris Jacobs (butch black dude) or Mattias Nilsson (weird Scandavian accent). Each of these characters has his or her own specialities and weaknesses. The chick for example moves faster than the guys but isnt quite as tough. Playing the game with the different people doesnt really alter the game play, however some of the dialogue alters on occasion.

The storyline is decent, however I doubt anyone would be expecting a masterpiece considering the context of the game. You are basically a mercenary out to perform specific tasks in order to earn money. The game starts off with you handling a job for Ramon Solano – a stereotypical bad guy who betrays you. Time for revenge ! This is the whole point of the game, to exact revenge for the betrayal, and the painful bullet you had to pick out of your ass.

The game is set in Venezuela, a country set in the middle of rebellion with oil being the central focus of this conflict. The Venezuelian army is attempting to control the country but there are a set number of factions who are looking to take over. It is your goal to work with five different factions, The Chinese Army, The Allied Nations, Rastafarian Pirates, Peoples Liberation Army of Venezula and the Universal Petroleum. Each of these factions has their own set of missions for you to complete and as you progress you get closer to your own personal goal, which is taking revenge on Solano. Obviously as you are moving between factions your allegiances change, as there is a lot of internal squabbling going on.

The more missions you do for a specific faction the more they like you. If you end up killing their enemies it makes their life easier so you can end up getting higher rewards. You are for example allowed to land at “friendly” faction outposts and buy air support from them. Equally so, if you start killing currently friendly faction soldiers and units, they will start to put you on their hate list and attack on sight. It all works logically and for the most part it works well.

With all the different factions it means you will be meeting up with a lot of different NPCs. Unfortunately while the premise is interesting and a way to enhance the story it ends up nothing more than a little diversion. Their dialogue is generally nothing out of the ordinary and they are rather two dimensional in their execution.  The dialogue is also unfortunately quite often repeated so by the time you finish the game you will be cringing in annoyance.

Unfortunately the repeating dialogue is prevalent throughout the game with your home base calling you back on a regular basis when you are out exploring the territory.

Combat however is enjoyable and simple. You shoot and destroy tons of hardware during the game time. There are a lot of vehicles, including motorcycles, tanks, boats and attack choppers. All of these can also be hijacked when they are in the possession of the enemy (whichever faction your current mission says you must attack).

Hijacking the more powerful vehicles in the game (such as the tanks and choppers) requires you to complete a minigame. This is simply a case of hitting the correct buttons as they appear on screen, if you do this successfully then you are treated to a funky cinematic showing the hijack playing out. Hijacking a chopper thankfully doesnt show your character jumping 100 foot in the air like superman, but you grapple the landing bars in a (slightly) more realistic manner.

A great touch in Mercenaries 2 is the damage system. Anything you damage in the game (even the ground) remains in this state until you end your play session. This means if you are the cause of potholes, the next time you reenter the section of game level they are still there. It may not sound like much, but I felt it was great at enhancing the overall realism of the environment. It is also a very cool touch that we dont often get, even in class leading AAA titles.

Calling in Air Support is another very cool addition, you can call for weapon and vehicle drops as well as air strikes. Air Strikes are either purchased from a faction or they are found laying on the ground. All of this air support costs fuel, but as there is gallons of it across Venezuela it never ends up being an issue.

Unfortunately calling an Air Strike is not a smooth process and I feel more game testing might have resolved the somewhat clunky nature of the system. To select the strike you must stop moving, open the side menu, select the strike and then direct the attack. While you are doing this, nine times in ten you will have been under heavy fire from the enemy which can prove deadly in some situations. Air strikes vary from bombing runs to nuclear bombs (yes, seriously). The graphics surrounding these special attacks are very impressive and they destroy eveything in sight. I noticed slightly more frame rate drop on the Playstation 3 with some of the more particle based air strikes, but nothing to ruin the game. The Pandemic engine is rather good.

There are some bugs to slightly take the shine off the gaming experience, however some of these I would class as “poor design decisions” rather than bugs. Take for example the fact that your tank can run over a plethora of vehicles which causes them to blow up under you. You take absolutely no damage from these explosions. This might be forgivable, if this very same tank didnt take damage from running over a fire hydrant several minutes later. Equally annoying is the fact that if you run down steep surfaces you can lose your footing and take some severe damage. It happened to me several times in the middle of high octane fire fights. Once I even lost a life due to it. I know I’m perhaps being anal here, but I feel little things like this might have been resolved if the play testing was more intensive.

Another rather dubious design decision is the immense attack force your character has with his fists. Many of the missions I drove a tank, right to the target (in the heart of their base), jumped out and punched the guards to death then took out the main target. Granted it didnt always work, but quite often I simply beat missions by ditching the weapons and using my fists.

Many of the games in this genre are made (or broken) by the Artificial Intelligence and unfortunately in this game it is sadly lacking. Most soldiers run at you without any regard for cover and there are quite a few times I found them pointing in the other way, stuck in a wall or a rock. There were even times when I ran beside a tank to avoid being shot, only to find the enemy in the tank would leave it, letting me hijack it without a challenge. Equally so, your companions AI is poor, they get in the way, dont often enter vehicles when it would be a good decision on their part. All in all, the AI needed more development time.

Two player coop is great fun especially as you can play it online. The game is set in the host’s world and as you complete the missions he unlocks the game, just like playing in single player. The additional player earns money and prizes which are transferred to his game. This is a great idea if you wish to help someone progress further without touching your own saved game positions.

While this is a wonderfully addictive addition, in two player mode the game doesnt scale the difficulty correctly, which means that some of the later levels which were very hard in single player mode, become rather easy. You still get the same enemies to deal with and the game doesnt enhance the AI to compensate. This is compounded by the fact that in two player mode you can revive the other player, if he happens to die. Also, I found it rather confusing with two players calling in airstrikes!

Graphically both consoles power the game just fine with only slight frame rate issues when things get hot and heavy. The Playstation 3 suffers slightly more from the frame rate issues, but it is only slightly noticeable in some locations and it doesnt ruin the game at all. On the other hand, the PS3 graphics look slightly sharper to my eyes so it balances out a little in the end.

Mercenaries 2, is a fun and addictive game which unfortunately has its fair share of issues. That said, all in all the game is a hell of a lot of fun to play and if you have a friend it makes a great two player cooperative experience. If they had spent more time play testing the game and polishing certain aspects of the design it could easily have been a classic, but as it stands it is recommendable, but be aware there will be times when you really do want to punch the screen in frustration.



If you like to shoot and blow things up, you will love this. There are some minor issues however with the game design which annoy from time to time.


The graphics are lovely, and the explosions and air strikes look great. Some minor framerate issues ruin the overall polish.


The voice acting is good, but the rest is instantly forgettable.

With two player cooperative online modes, it will become a favourite for a late night gaming session.
(not an average)

Entertaining and the missions are fun. Recommended.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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