Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Reviews

  • mudE13mudE13113,579
    10 Sep 2010
    37 4 5
    Smokin' Gamer here again (and it's been waaay too long) with another (Somewhat) Quick Review. Now in all the games I review I look at six areas: STORY, GAMEPLAY, GRAPHICS, SOUND/MUSIC, REPLAY VALUE, and PRICE VALUE.

    Mercenaries 2: World in Flames:

    Dam...uh... I mean DANG (got to watch that dirty mouth of mine wink) it's been too long since I have done a review here. Well I'm coming back with a vengeance cause I have TONS of games I want to talk about. But let's start with the most recent game I finished; Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. The original Mercenaries game was well received by critics and gamers alike. It was one of the first games to really capitalize on the whole "blow everything up with crazy over-the-top ways". So does the sequel help carry on that same atmosphere. Let's find out.

    STORY: The story is what it is. You play as a Mercenary (obviously) who was sent to do some dirty work for a man named Salone. Of course after you do the deed, he screws you over and snuffs you the money he owes you. So you have to work your way back up the mercenary/guerrilla ladder in Venezuela and get your revenge. Now I'm not going to rip the story apart. It is what it is and like I have said before, there are very little games in which I would consider the story their strong point. But the disappointment here is that it's the book. It was literally like the developers filled out some "Mad-Lib: Sandbox Action Game Edition". It's very predictable, by the numbers, and well...boring. I know, I know it's just a fun sandbox game and it doesn't need a real good story. Yea that can be true, but personally I'm kind of sick of that excuse. I know not all games can have stories like Mass Effect, Bioshock, or even Call of Duty, but we as the consumer should have at least some minimal standards for a game's story. Hmmm...I guess I kind of did rip the story apart. Oh well. Long story (pun intended) short, it's "passable".

    STORY: 5/10

    GAMEPLAY: Boy if you thought that last paragraph was long, you ain't seen nothing yet. At the beginning of the game you get to choose between a white guy with a mohawk, a black guy voiced by Mad TV and Pulp Fiction (he was the reason the car needed cleaning) star Phil LaMarr, and some chick. I chose Phil LaMarr since he always has a cigar in his mouth (no matter how high he gets blown up into the air). It's the standard sandbox game where you go around do various missions for various groups of people. In this game you have to go between different factions to progress the story as well as doing some side missions for them. Each mission or objective you complete you get money, unlock more weapons, and/or find new contacts. I do admit this game can be very fun. You will never run out of air-strikes or vehicles so the world really is your blow up. For me, I never got bored hijacking helicopters and tanks so that I could demolish a whole city block. Sad to say though, that's it for the positives. First and foremost, and please understand I mean this with all my heart, this game is the most GLITCHY GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED. My god, this game was almost unplayable. The first few hours of game time I didn't notice much, but after that, it started to creep in like a virus. Finally towards the end of the game, it had gone completely insane with "mad cow disease". Here are some of the things I actually encountered: enemies showing up in Challenges (they're not supposed to), helicopters vanishing right in front of me (this happened a LOT towards the end of the game), A.I. blowing themselves up, not being able to enter ANY vehicle (it was not a mission restriction or anything like that), bombs dropping WAAAAAY off target, and an old favorite...falling through the map. The cherry on the crap sundae was clipping and texture issues so bad I couldn't tell what was happening during the FINAL FIGHT SEQUENCE!!! For once, I was happy it was a "quicktime event" since I couldn't tell what was going on with the exception of the button prompts. I know most sandbox games have similar issues, but all the other games I have played are nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like this!!! All right I know I have talked way too long about this, but in the end, it kind of ruined the experience. It got so bad I would get excited when I would start the game and it would prompt me with an update only to find out the "update" was just Microsoft putting real ads on the in-game billboards (I do admit it was fun blowing the living crap out of the "Resident Evil: Afterlife" ads.) Ok, I'll shut up. Short version: some fun ideas and missions that were almost completely RUINED by glitches and lack of overall polish.

    GAMEPLAY: 4.5/10

    GRAPHICS: Ok glitches aside, this game looks all right. The explosions are impressive and the destruction does have a nice look to it. The character models aren't horrible, but they're nothing to call home about. Some eye catching stuff here and there, but not much. You already know about the clipping and glitching issues so I will save my breath.

    GRAPHICS: 6/10

    SOUND/MUSIC: This game is also victim of the famous "I have about 5-6 catch phrases and you are going to hear them over and over again" syndrome. The voice work, like most of the game, is passable. The music does it's job complementing the action and the sound effects are descent, though I did have a hard time telling some of the guns apart. The only question is why do all the factions' troops (with the exception of the Pirates) have American accents?

    SOUND/MUSIC: 6.5/10

    [Reviewer's Note: The rest of this review was written almost 24 hours after the initial part...if that makes sense]

    REPLAY VALUE: Now that I have cooled down a bit, let's talk about replay value. Now I have to admit I was not entirely fair. You have to understand I literally started writing this review as the game's credits were rolling. Most of the BIG issues I encountered didn't really start happening until the last few hours of the game. But that's what was so frustrating. I know a lot of us can relate to putting so much time into a game only to have it fall apart on us in it's final act. A game like this does have high replay value potential...if it doesn't "bug out". I was at about 85-90% completion after finishing the game and I would have gone for the full 100% if it wasn't for obvious reasons. There is a nice amount of side missions you can complete and/or you can just spend your time blowing up soldiers, buildings, vehicles, etc. I can actually say now that I could see some people going back and getting a full 100% completion as long as they are patient. There is also co-op, so you can have a friend with you during all the insanity. But one major strike I can't over look, and definitely the main focus on this site, is the achievements. When looking at it's list here on this site, I couldn't help but notice all the "bug" symbols next to the achievements. The achievement for finding all the HVT's didn't unlock the first time for me (which sucks cause that's a 50g and over 100TAg) and you have to spend a lot of time on that one. I know I just can't stop talking about the "bugs", but it just REALLY hurt my overall experience.

    REPLAY VALUE: 6/10

    PRICE VALUE: You can buy this game new for about $20 or get a used copy anywhere from $7-$15. IS IT WORTH IT? I might shock you, but if you can find it for under $10 (like I did) and can stand the "bugs" then go for it. But you've been warned.

    PRICE VALUE: 5.5/10

    OVERALL SCORE: 5.5/10

    I know I will get a handful of negative votes and what have you, but this was my experience with this game. It's just so sad because this game could have been pretty fun (which it can be if it wasn't for the...oh nevermind). I know it has to do with money, but it still baffles me that there's been no real updates to fix the problems. Then again, Pandemic has closed it doors and E.A. isn't the type of publisher to make sure all their games are polished up to standards (unless it's Madden, Mass Effect, or Bad Company). Geez this review went way too long. Well that's it for this one. Please leave comments letting me know whether you loved my review or hated it. Be sure to check out more (Somewhat) Quick Reviews here at and see new episodes of "The Smokin' Gamer" on ( PEACE!!!
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    VIOLENTAEGLAECANothing wrong about this review, I was thinking of getting the game but will now pass.
    As for writing about yourself in a review of a game you have played where your opinions are being voiced, there's nothing wrong with adding a bit of personality to a review, it stops them from being droll, by the numbers, unimaginative statistical pap.
    I'll look out for your reveiws in the future.
    Posted by VIOLENTAEGLAECA on 10 Sep 10 at 12:33
    mudE13@ShadowManGMR Uh...I did write something in the graphics section. Not much, but there's definitely a paragraph there. The reason for the "update" was a simple one, I didn't want to go back and rewrite most of the review and more importantly I wanted to show my initial reaction to the end of this game. Isn't that what a review is supposed to be? A person's experience with a game and it's mechanics? Maybe I'm wrong. Now I do wish I would have emphasized that for the first half of the game I did have fun. I love blowing up crap and having mindless fun. It just became such a problem at the end i had to back out to the main menu at least a half a dozen times and reload my save to stop the game from messing up. Now I know that some people won't experience the same problems, if at all, but this was my experience .
    Posted by mudE13 on 11 Sep 10 at 01:11
    Posted by FIVWPPJ on 26 Jul 12 at 03:58
  • LimafoxtrotLimafoxtrot320,815
    08 Jun 2010
    15 1 1
    This game is an odd one. As a co-op game it is a blast to play. Open environments, lots to do, many vehicles and a passable story given the franchise. I haven't had this much co-op fun in a long time. The sense of humor in the game is pretty good (although they need 4 times the number of lines).

    HOWEVER - this has got to be one of the buggiest, most unpolished releases I've seen on a console in a long, long time. From AI getting stuck in rocks, to constant lock ups, to spotty hit detection there is plenty of frustration points.

    There are also a host of tiny issues that just make the game feel unfinished. From resource pick ups that tell you both you got an item and that there was no item available (how does that get past testing?), to wearing an unlocked outfit in some cut scenes but not all of them, to vehicle damage that makes no sense its almost like the developers didn't care if it was done or not.

    Oh on the car damage - its so bad you fall off a cliff and talk no damage, yet the arched bridge to your base routinely takes 10-20 point (out of 100) out of your car at moderate speed.

    As with many average games missions get a bit repetitive, but the chaos you are causing often covers it up and when running with a mate - its all still fun. Solo it wear on you a bit though.

    I don't want to go on and on with issues but they are a plenty - and while most don't break the game - over time they mar the fun tremendously. If you are looking for a great destructive romp with a friend - this game is great for a rental. Its a lot of fun, even if short lived. At the end of which I find myself thinking what a game this could of been had it had some testing and polish.
  • Bizarro13Bizarro13566,189
    30 Sep 2010
    10 1 0
    Better Late Than Never: Mercenaries 2

    After a couple of years, sadly, Pandemic Studios is gone, and I'd finally decided to finish out Mercenaries 2 and go for what can be an elusive 1000 Gamerscore. Unfortunately, due to some blatant issues regarding enemy AI and programming glitches this game loses marks. But, its a solid 3 stars for being a fun, explosive romp through Venezuela. And did I mention you can double the fun with co-op multiplayer?

    You're a mercenary (you can choose from three different characters) gunning for Solano, a man who double crossed you, and shot you in the ass. In your quest for revenge, you are thrown into the middle of a war in Venezuela between five different factions, of which you can choose to do missions for any and all. Some factions get pissed off if you do missions for their rivals, but money talks and you can bribe them if you've got the cash. The story is passable, if not a bit cliche.

    Really, the gameplay is standard 3rd person shooter fare. You run, you shoot, you hijack vehicles and blow shit up, which has to be the most satisfying aspect of this game. It can be fun just running or driving/flying around and blowing up encampments or entire cities. The multiplayer doesn't change the game itself any, you can just do everything co-op if you like. The missions start out relatively simple enough. You do everything from capturing high value targets and outposts to leveling buildings in the middle of cities. The game definitely gets more difficult as you progress past the midpoint. There are some missions that can be just brutal for the final two factions, China and Allied Nations.

    So, the game sounds decent enough right? Well, sadly, Pandemic Studios doesn't win any programming of the year awards. Luckily, I didn't have too much of an issue with the known glitches in the game. I always made sure I had extras of vehicles I would call in for delivery because sometimes they just disappear when they land.

    Some of the HVT's are buggy and in positions to kill themselves, which presents a very tough problem if you want to capture and not kill them (which you need to do in order to get 1000 GS). I had one in particular that would stand on a rock that is just high enough that when he would walk off the front of it, he'd fall to his death...

    Other issues with the game include achievements that just won't unlock for no rhyme or reason. Multiplayer achievements that require having to destroy 200 objects as a gunner in co-op or call in 20 airstrikes seem to open up at random. Other achievements just flat out don't unlike upon beating the game. Most frustrating if you are trying to get your 1000.

    All in all, a fun game with a few frustrating moments. Twice the fun with a friend. It has a little bit of everything. Nothing like calling in that nuclear air strike for the first time. I'm actually quite proud of completing the 1000 gamerscore on Mercenaries 2. Its tough to do, not impossible.

    3 out of 5
  • The Gwyn ReaperThe Gwyn Reaper156,476
    06 Mar 2015 25 Mar 2015
    7 1 3
    Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is the follow up to Pandemic’s critically acclaimed “Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction” from 2005. Praised for its hugely destructible, open world, sandbox environment and focus on explosive mayhem, it was one of the last great action games on the Xbox. A third person shooter geared towards vehicular combat, it was GTA in a warzone, with airstrikes, tanks, and choppers, and more explosions than a Michael Bay film (but with a decent story.) Set in a dark and moody, war-torn North Korea, you were a lone mercenary dropped into the DMZ, embarking on a mission to bring down “The Dear Leader” of the Democratic People’s Republic - a madman bent on nuclear war. It also had an amazing soundtrack from LucasArts.

    One of its defining features was a clever and dynamic reputation based mechanic, with warring factions in the North Korean theatre treating you differently based on your behaviour. Working for one faction could mean going against another, your actions would alter your relationships with them and affect their mood towards you. If you killed their soldiers, they became hostile. Kill enough of their rivals and they might change their mind. A skilled player could juggle between them without getting caught.

    As a merc, you were in it purely for the paper. You earned money by taking on contracts, and successfully capturing (or killing) the deck of 52 - the Allies most wanted - one card at a time. Of course, the ultimate payday was the Ace of Spades, the most wanted man in the world. As you progressed, they would give you more contracts, you would earn more cash, and unlock more powerful tools of destruction to rain down absolute carnage on the battlefield. You could order up an airstrike and level a whole city block. Every building could be destroyed. Order a tank or a helicopter whenever you felt like it, as long as you had the cash. You were free to cause mayhem at any time in any way you saw fit. Sound good? It was.

    Released in 2008, this outing brought the action to sunny Venezuela, the oil capital of South America. After a contract gone wrong, and failure to receive payment, you seek revenge on the crooked Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez Ramón Solano and his cronies, who betrayed you and shot you in the ass. After General Carmona stages a successful military coup, the country collapses as Solano declares war on the foreign powers controlling their oil.

    In order to bring down Solano and his generals, you need to work with the different warring factions, for money, supplies, and information on Solano’s whereabouts. First order of business is to take over Solano’s villa and turn it into your base of operations. Once it’s yours, it serves as the new base for your “Private Military Company,” of which you are the boss. There is no mention of “Ex-ops” from the first game. This time, it seems you’re the leader of your own little ragtag band of freelancers.

    The three playable characters from the original make a return. We have Matthias Nilsson, the unhinged Swedish merc, a former Jager / ex-convict / biker, he has a penchant for mayhem and regenerates health faster. With a mohawk, beard, and tattoos, he’s the poster boy for the series. Peter Stormare did a great job with the voice over. Then there’s Chris Jacobs, the cigar chomping American merc. Ex-Delta Force, he carries more ammo than the others. Or you can play as Jennifer Mui, the Chinese / British merc, former MI6 and obsessed with money. She runs faster than the guys. Beyond cosmetics and voice overs, your character selection doesn't make a big difference to the gameplay. The mercs all look great, with a nice level of detail, a couple of clothing options, and they all have a level of bad-ass appeal. The voice work is fine, but the script is sometimes lacking.

    The villa serves as the base for your Private Military Company. It also gives you a dynamic visual record of your current stockpiles of cash and airstrikes. As you progress through the game and rake in hundreds of millions, you can see these huge piles of banknotes stacked in the foyer. It’s deeply satisfying to watch that mountain of cash steadily growing. The walls are lined with scaffolding that houses your arsenal of airstrikes, bombs and missiles - the more you have, the more crowded it gets. A very nice touch, indeed.

    There are characters that you recruit throughout the game to support you in the field. Fiona is back, she’s the intelligence operative who worked with you in North Korea. She gives you helpful advice during contracts with her cheerful Australian voice. Then you’ll be recruiting a helicopter pilot, a mechanic, and a jet pilot. These characters chill out in your villa and perform support actions to help you out when needed. The chopper pilot can give you fast travel, or pick up bundles of fuel, cash and munitions that you find laying around Venezuela. Most importantly, he brings you your vehicles on demand. The mechanic will create some wacky vehicles if you collect enough spare parts for her. The jet pilot is a drunken Russian guy who drops your explosive ordinance wherever you want it, no questions asked.

    The inclusion of these characters is a welcome addition over the original game as they bring some personality to your support actions, and they all have their own quirks. However, be prepared for some repetitive lines whenever you ask them to do something.

    With Solano and Carmona running the show, the entire Venezuelan armed forces are under their command. The “VZ” as they’re called, are the primary antagonists in this game, and are always hostile towards you, and everyone else. Their plan is to bring down Universal Petroleum, and take control of the country’s oil reserves. Universal Petroleum are a Texan Oil Corporation who have been swindling the Venezuelans out of their own black gold for years. UP are being backed by the United States and have hired their own private army of mercenaries to protect their interests. Then there’s the People’s Liberation Army of Venezuela, a Marxist / Maoist guerrilla force who live out in the jungles. They hate UP and the VZ, and are fighting for a communist revolution, backed by the Chinese government. There is also a group of Jamaican pirates who run the black market in Venezuela. (They serve as a replacement for the Russian Mafia.) They’re smugglers who can get you some VZ vehicles at a good price. Eventually, the foreign powers show up in force, and you’ll need to team up with either the U.S. forces or the Chinese for the ensuing war. It’s all about that oil.

    The action takes place in a vibrant, war torn region of Northern Venezuela. The map is quite large, expansive enough to be a lot of fun to explore, but without being tiresome to traverse. You can fast travel at any time to any friendly faction’s outposts. The cities of Caracas and Maracaibo are condensed and situated closer together than in real life, the cities are dominated by towering skyscrapers - all fully destructible! Your villa is overlooking Lake Maracaibo with oil rigs and tankers on the coast, and the Amazon jungles are to the south, filled with VZ and guerrilla activity. The pirates control the islands to the north. You’ll find battles and skirmishes as the factions clash with each other all over this playground of destruction, but it lacks the dark, oppressive atmosphere of North Korea.

    Unfortunately, the surrounding scenery can be visually underwhelming. Mountains in the distance appear blurry, there’s a limited draw distance with occasional fog, and the wave effects on the ocean surface are among the least appealing on the 360. Other than a few minor complaints, the graphics are usually presentable. On the other hand, the explosions look awesome. The first time you blow up an oil rig is truly something special.

    Aside from the main story missions where you hunt for Solano, you’ll be taking on contracts from each of the different factions. It’s entirely up to you how you go about this, and therein lies the open world, sandbox glory of this game. You can team up with the rebels and stick it to the greedy capitalists, viva la revolucion, or you can work for UP and fly your helicopter through the jungles, wasting all the commie guerrillas with mini-guns and hellfire missiles. With no particular alliance or loyalty, (and no moral compass,) you could be helping a group of soldiers one minute, and gunning them down the next. Just like in the original, their attitude towards you changes depending on your actions. If you’re careful, you get away with murder before they have a chance to report you...

    Each faction has their own agenda, a somewhat limited plot line, with a series of missions where they pay you to help out their forces in exchange for cash and intel. Then you have plenty of open ended, sandbox style objectives, which you can take care of at any time you like, or choose to ignore. These include helping the faction expand their influence over the map by capturing outposts from the VZ, or hunting down a High Value Target (HVT) dead or alive. Killing them only rewards half, but if you bring them in alive you get the full bounty. It’s incredibly satisfying when you get the full payout. There are also key structures that they want you to destroy, by any means necessary. The more work you do for a faction, the more advanced hardware they’ll be willing to sell you.

    A nice addition is the “standing bounties” feature; the factions will wire you an instant cash reward for every member of their rival faction that you kill. This encourages combat actions outside of main missions and contracts, and as it also improves your standing with them, it’s a useful way to get back into a faction’s good books if you’ve pissed them off. There’s a lot of fun to be had just flying around, making money from killing soldiers and blowing things up in this open ended sandbox world.

    The missions are very enjoyable for the most part. The atmosphere can get very cinematic, with the thrilling orchestral score, (though not on par with the LucasArts original) and the grand explosions, which will make you feel like you’re in your own action movie.

    However, there are certain missions that just feel completely out of place in this game. There are a couple of humdrum racing challenges which have you running a vehicle through a series of checkpoints, against the clock. These lame tasks are in stark contrast to the rest of the game, and you have to repeat these tedious time trials three times over. They are redundant and feel like boring, uninspired, filler in a world of explosive mayhem. (I’m guessing that they ran out of time, and this was the easiest way to add content.) There are some delivery missions for the pirates which are especially annoying. They give you a flat-bed truck filled with loose cargo, and you’re expected to get it through a warzone without spilling it everywhere. It’s like an egg and spoon race, except with attack choppers firing homing rockets at your spoon.

    Making friends with a faction has benefits. For one, they’ll stop shooting at you. Each faction will sell you supply crates with weapons, and all manner of military vehicles unique to that faction. If you’re on friendly terms, you’ll get a discount. If you have the cash, they’ll sell you the more powerful and impressive support options - heavy tanks, attack choppers, and airstrikes. You gotta spend money to make money.

    There’s a great deal of variety in the vehicles. You can stock up on cars, bikes, jeeps with mounted guns, all manner of tanks, APCs, AA units, artillery, gunboats and loads of different assault helicopters, many have multiple weapon systems on board. There are a wealth of options and a toy for every occasion. The hardest part is choosing what to bring to the party. There are cheap, economic options, and then more powerful, expensive options. Vehicle handling is generally smooth, however some of the cars and APCs suffer from a few control issues. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to include planes or parachutes, which were sadly left out of the game due to restraints. However, with so many vehicles on offer, you’ll end up with more military hardware than the dictator of a small country.

    The vehicular combat is where this game shines. Once you have your helicopter pilot working for your company, any vehicle that you’ve purchased can be flown over to your position at any time. Using a tank is usually your safest bet, helicopters are the fastest, and in my opinion, the most fun. There’s nothing like attacking a hostile base with your chopper, strafing left and right with dual mini-guns and rocket pods. Just watch out for pesky AA and SAM units that can quickly put an end to your rampage. If you’re fast enough you can dodge homing missiles. Every chopper has a winch that allows you to pick up enemy vehicles, fuel tanks, even munitions, and you can then swing them around and launch them into the fray.

    Collect enough spare parts (collectibles) and your mechanic will assemble custom vehicles. From sports cars with rocket launchers, a motorbike with tank threads and machine guns, or a bouncing monster truck with hydraulics, it’s all there. Collectibles are actually worth it in this game.

    You can hijack any enemy vehicle you see, including tanks, and if you have a grappling hook, you can even hijack enemy helicopters. However... this incurs an annoying quick time event, with button mashing. Get it wrong and you get tossed out. (With no parachutes in the game, you fall clumsily to the ground.) Towards the end of the game I started to lose my patience with the amount of soldiers using homing missiles. To be fair, if they didn’t do this, you would be quite overpowered. Also, the frequency at which the American soldiers can fire rockets at you is just insane. Chinese soldiers are equipped with devastating fuel-air RPGs, enough to kill the best tank in the game in a single hit. This can sometimes lead to the frustrating cycle of hijacking a vehicle, instantly getting blown up, hijacking the vehicle that shot you, and getting blown up again.

    My main complaint regarding the vehicles is the lack of vehicle repair / ammo support drops, which were available in the first game. If you want your vehicle replenished, you need to take it to a friendly outpost, enter the building, and walk back out. Not a big point, but I see this inconvenience as an oversight that they would have addressed if they had more time.

    Overall, vehicular combat is one of this game’s strong suits. Smooth, satisfying and addictive mayhem. You usually have very little reason to be without a vehicle.

    Friendly factions will also sell you airstrikes. Once you’ve recruited your jet pilot, you can summon any airstrike in your arsenal and he’ll deliver the payload. You can stock up on the standard bombing runs and artillery strikes, as well as more specialised strikes such as tank-busters and combat air patrols, which can specifically remove troublesome vehicles from an area. (Handy when you need to keep a HVT alive, and carpet bombing the region won’t do.)

    As you progress through the story, the Allies and the Chinese will sell you more and more advanced and expensive ordinance, such as rocket artillery, cluster bombs, fuel-air bombs, laser guided bombs, cruise missiles, bunker busters, and even the MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs.)

    These airstrikes are the standout feature of this game, giving you the freedom to cause outrageous devastation on a grand scale with a wide variety of options, whenever you feel the need. These earth shattering explosions have a feeling of grandeur and awe, with spectacular cinematic effects, and when you demolish a building you’ll see huge pieces of it coming loose and scattering across the screen as it slowly crumbles and collapses, kicking up dust and smoke. While the graphics are a bit dated, it’s incredibly satisfying to bring down a city block of skyscrapers as the ground trembles around you. It just doesn’t get old. The game’s physics engine is put to excellent use in this department. When this game is firing on all cylinders it really is something else.

    There’s a decent variety of guns, but it could be a while before you find one you like. To describe the on foot, shooting mechanics as “basic” would be generous. This game is fundamentally flawed in this department. This is where Mercs 2 falls flat on its tattooed ass.

    The accuracy of the weapons is dreadful. Your bullets almost never go where you’re actually aiming, even if you use the most advanced, modern rifle, and stick to single shots, there is way too much spread. The original Mercenaries was built on the "Star Wars: Battlefront" engine, and as a result, the bullets in this game travel at a sluggish pace, (like Star Wars lasers from a storm trooper’s blaster) giving you ample time to simply step to one side. As long as you keep running, most foot soldiers have almost no chance to actually hit you, and when they do, the damage is negligible.

    Hitting them in return is a constant chore due to accuracy, and on impact, your bullets do little damage, (although vehicles have great accuracy.) If you try to zoom in and aim, half of the time your reticule will jump up over their head, rendering it useless. It’s a broken feature. It’s almost impossible to get an accurate headshot unless you’re sniping, and it can sometimes take a whole clip to kill a guy 20 feet away. Run and gun tactics work best, as the closer you are, the quicker you’ll kill them. You soon discover that smacking them with your elbow is a one-hit-kill on any opponent, so it’s very tempting to just charge straight in, weaving through a hail of gunfire (with Star Wars bullets floating past your mohawk) as you bash them all to death.

    GET... IN... THE... CAR.
    The artificial “intelligence” of the other soldiers you encounter is so shocking at times that it’s actually hilarious. You could be sitting in a vehicle, honking your horn to encourage some friendlies to jump on the mini-gun and help you out. They enthusiastically jog over to your vehicle and slam their faces into the door with an audible thud, (which is laugh-out-loud funny,) gluing themselves to the side. So you have to move into a position where they can easily reach the door. In the heat of battle this bad action mapping is very irritating. A similar face-palm instance involved a group of pirates standing on a pier. I offered them a ride in my pirate boat, and they came a-runnin’, but how was I supposed to know pirates can’t swim?

    Soldiers posted in guard towers will sometimes blow themselves up by firing an RPG at the side of their tower, doing you a favour. An HVT was hiding inside of a pillbox. I needed to capture him alive, so I went in to subdue him. He decides to throw a grenade at me. It never left the pillbox. Sometimes, they simply prefer to go out on their own terms.

    The only way to bring in the HVTs alive is to run up to them, smack them, and then handcuff them, before calling for an extraction chopper. What happened to the flashbang grenades from the first game? Instead, you just have to charge at them while they pour boxes of bullets into your balls. Such a glaring omission, no doubt a result of rushed development. It also needs to be mentioned that almost every HVT who died, was killed by the reckless abandon of his surrounding entourage of RPG happy soldiers and tanks.

    Friendly soldiers will quickly turn on you if you accidentally kill one of their guys, and sometimes for no discernible reason at all! If they report you, the whole faction will become hostile. The only way to avert disaster is to kill the soldier reporting you. So then his comrades all jump on the bandwagon and turn on you. Before you know it, you’ve no choice but to massacre an entire battalion of allied soldiers, while they constantly try to report you. It’s like spinning plates. This game desperately needs a system in place where they give you an extra chance, they could at least yell at you first, and give you a stern warning... instead, one stray bullet is enough to turn a whole army against you. This is particularly annoying when you’re on a big mission, working for them, and then they suddenly decide you’re a threat. (Remember this is a game which encourages bombastic explosions as the primary solution to your problems.)

    The most annoying feature is their constant desire to inform their faction leader of your actions. This happens way too often, and it gets old - fast. “General Peng must learn of this!” or “I’m getting Joyce on the horn...” and “General Peng... the mercenary is attacking us as we speak...” (Now read those sentences again, and again, and again, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.) Just shut up and shoot me. It’s at its worst when the offending snitch has gotten himself stuck inside of a boulder on the other side of a cliff.

    The Venezuelan army is voiced over by this many voice actors: One.
    This means that every Venezuelan soldier sounds exactly the same, just like every Chinese soldier sounds exactly the same... same lines of dialogue, same voice. It’s like an army of stupid clones who never shut up. They absolutely have to comment on everything they do. The only exceptions are the American soldiers, who have a bit more variety. (They have a surfer dude, a black guy, and a couple of others.) But these guys have got nothing on Fiona.

    Fiona is the Queen of repetition. They’ve recorded about three lines of dialogue and programmed the poor girl to spout the same phrases every time she sees you in the villa. She says the exact same lines every time you try to sneak past, and they’ve positioned her smack bang in the middle of your home. No escape. At least she has a pretty voice, because you’ll be hearing about “the latest blogs on those independent websites” in your sleep. If Mischa the drunken jet pilot was in her place it would be a deal breaker. There’s a reason they stuck him in the corner.

    One of the most exciting features was the addition of drop-in, drop out co-op. You can have a friend, or a stranger, drop into your world at any time and join you as a partner in destruction. You can limit your settings to friends, anybody, or nobody, if you’d rather work alone. It’s an excellent co-op experience, as long as you’re both on the same page. Best played with a friend who has a microphone. Unfortunately, it’s not without its problems. You can’t stray too far from each other, as you’re forced to stay within a certain radius. I had difficulty getting into my friends game, and when I did, I was sometimes unable to access any of my vehicles, supplies, or airstrikes, this seemed to happen at random. It also looks pretty damn weird when your co-op partner chooses the same character as you.

    The most unforgivable flaws are the potentially game breaking problems that you might experience. You need to be connected to the EA servers in order to play. For over five years I was unable to play this game, it would freeze at the main menu while trying to connect to the EA servers. It was only when I downloaded the demo for Command & Conquer 3 and accepted EA’s terms and conditions, that I was finally able to come back and finish this game. I’m so glad it worked, because I had a blast, a real trip down memory lane.

    90% of the achievements here are easy pickings, and it’s a very fun play-through. However, a couple of the achievements are glitchy. Many people are unable to unlock the “snipe 50 vehicle drivers” achievement. I had a very hard time with the co-op airstrikes achievement. It says “use 20 airstrikes in co-op,” but it took us a lot more than that. Some people just can’t get these achievements to unlock. (EDIT: I'm told that if you are playing this game in co-op with a friend, the friend doesn't get the achievements if they are the one who joined the game, only the host gets them.) I can forgive the other annoyances, but being unable to play a game that I bought because of EA’s general lack of care is infuriating, and glitchy or broken achievements are a HUGE no.

    Most of the problems with this game stem from the fact that EA bought out Pandemic in 2007, and had to “cut staff, trim project lines, and close studios” as they were struggling with their budget. Pandemic suffered as a consequence. This game was made on a shortened deadline with a slashed budget and you’ll encounter evidence of this when you’re playing it. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun.

    Mercenaries 2 is like a flawed gem. It has a lot of great ideas, some very strong selling points, and you'll always find people to kill, buildings to blow up, and money to be made. You always have something to spend your money on, and as a result it rarely gets boring. It’s generally a lot of fun, in spite of all its problems, and definitely warrants repeat play-throughs.

    However, there’s no denying that it was rushed, you’ll find the cracks in its armour as soon as you look for them, and it sometimes feels like unfinished work. If only Pandemic had been given more time and funding, they would have addressed these issues and it would have been another classic. Unfortunately it doesn't live up to the high expectations set by the original Mercenaries, which (in this reviewer’s opinion) was a masterpiece, way ahead of its time. The perfect combination of destruction and freedom. The fact that we’ll never see Mercenaries 3 is a bitter shame.

    Still, zipping through a warzone on a motorbike with tank tracks and machine guns... strapping C4 to a car and driving into a group of soldiers... dropping the MOAB on a busy city centre... these things will never go out of fashion. I would love to give this game a solid 8 out of 10, but given the volume of flaws, problems and glitches and the general lack of refinement, I can’t give it more than a 7 (and it just scrapes above being a 6.) With a couple of buggy achievements, and connectivity issues with EA servers, I cannot recommend this game to you if you’re a 100% completionist.

    In fact - thanks to EA - I can’t even promise you’ll get past the main menu.

    But if you do, you’re in for a wild ride.


    7/10 (GOOD)

    3 and a half MOABs out of 5
  • RedSVORedSVO172,762
    06 Jun 2009 06 Jun 2009
    8 6 0
    I wish I could say more positive things about this game, yet I find myself on the negative side after playing for 40-some hours... You should definitely rent this game, and if you can find it for $20 or less, maybe you should buy it.

    I found the game extremely exasperating and annoying! And yet, I did find it fun at times, being able to blow most everything in the game up was very satisfying. Launching a devastating attack using any number of stored weapons was awesome (my favorites were the satellite missile and nuclear missile attacks). Unfortunately, you have to stand still to do this, not while on the move, leaving you open for others to shoot at you. In the heat of the battle, not so much fun! And if you have the misfortune to die, and you will, you are sent back to your headquarters without any of your carried weapons - What? I worked hard to hijack those weapons and I don't get to keep 'em - again What? One thing you can to do mitigate this is to save the game frequently - and you should if you plan to have fun - as you can reload the save and keep your weapons albeit back at HQ and you have to get back to where you were... This led me to a lot a wasted time finding other things to get distracted doing and not being focused on the missions at hand - because it was such a pain in the butt to get back to where I was and start all over again!

    Plus the LONG waiting times to load the game (see below)...

    On the buggy side, I found myself on a number of occasions, stuck inside something you cannot see (like the middle of the fuel tank you just blew up). The only way to extract yourself, is to quit the game. This really sucks if you just leveled the entire place and want to continue your rampage without having to start back at HQ. I also found myself "swimming" on dry land after blowing up a rival HQ. Yes, I was "falling" downward, with the map of the remains of the HQ above me (I was on dry land here), falling, falling, falling and then heard a splash. I could then swim to nowhere. And swim until I gave up and quit the game. You'll find yourself doing this kind of stuff at the most inopportune moments.

    And don't even get me started on how long the load screens are - you know if you died and were immediately taken back to HQ and could start up in seconds, I would be OK with it. But no, this takes FOREVER. And everything between scenes takes FOREVERRRRR. For those that have played the game, you know what I mean. If it was as fast to start the game or return to HQ after dying or a mission ending as it was after you "Talk"ed or "Shop"ed with someone, OK, that'd be great but the waits in this game are agonizing. Truly a missed opportunity by Pandemic. Next version, pre-load this crap and don't make me wait!!!

    After all that ranting, you are probably thinking, why the heck did you waste 40 hours in this game?? Like I said, I found this game to be pretty fun to play. I have not finished it and don't plan to either due to the exasperatingly long wait times between game elements.

    Did not play the multiplayer elements - I tried but no one else was playing at the time, so I can't comment on this part of the game.
  • rusty guy500rusty guy500152,234
    18 Apr 2010 18 Apr 2010
    8 10 1
    Mercenaries 2 is a fun game over all while some of the missions and challenges do become quite hard especially when trying to capture all of the HVT's. The physics in the game can also become quite annoying at times as falling 2cm of a time lump can cause you to lose 10 per cent of your health and falling out of a chopper sometimes causes none.

    The game can also over exaggerate some of the rocks or lumps on the road. For example your car can be sent flying but tiny lumps or stone. The game also has a problem with disappearing vehicles and inability for the second play to more in multiplier.

    The game does freeze over periods of time causing frustration as being able to connect to EA servers is a pain and waste of internet for those who haven't played army of two,(online play requires you to have played army of two online before or download the demo and start up multiplayer).

    Bad things aside having all the factions, HVT's, building to destroy and challenges makes the game last for quite a long time providing you can stand the flaws to play it that long or feel like going for all the achievements.

    The story/side mission are great but the physics and the way the game runs isn't so good and quite annoying.
    Overall I would give it a about 7.5/10