Platform: Playstation 2, Xbox
Developer: Pandemic Studios
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Mercenaries was the only non-Star Wars game on display in their booth at E3. My first impression was, “Armed and Dangerous with a more realistic bent and a lot less tea.” And although I still haven’t managed to totally shake that first impression, the connection between the two is that they’re 3rd Person action games with lots of explosions.
Here’s the official line before my comments:
Mercenaries is a revolutionary third-person combat-action game that delivers the next level of free-form gameplay in massive interactive environments. The game gives players the opportunity to take on the role of a soldier for hire in an open-ended world. Mercenaries is set in North Korea in the near future, where a coup has plunged the troubled nation into chaos. An elite private military company, Executive Operations, has dispatched a mercenary to track down the “deck of 52” fugitive members of the old hardliner regime – before they can launch a nuclear attack. The nonstop action within Mercenaries is heightened by the integration of the Havok physics engine, making everything within the environment act and react as it would in real life.
In the game, players choose to be one of three mercenaries: an American ex-soldier, a British secret agent, or a Swedish bounty hunter. Each playable character has unique strengths and weaknesses that affects gameplay. For example, characters demonstrate increased expertise such as stealth, speed, or sniping allowing for unique interactions with the international factions, including China, North Korea, and the Russian Mafia. Players choose to make enemies or form alliances with these factions in order to obtain new vehicles and weaponry and unlock new bonus missions that are specific to each faction.
Players stock up on more than 30 different types of real-world weaponry including grenades, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and air strikes that are capable of demolishing an entire city block. Within the environment, characters gain access to more then 30 authentic ground and air vehicles, including helicopters, cars, jeeps, tanks and SUVs, that they use to travel throughout the world and accomplish their objectives. If you can see it you can steal it, use it, or blow it up.
Third-person combat-action set in North Korea in the near future.
Players control how they interact within each environment, using anything and everything in the world.
Havok physics engine allows for the most realistic and dynamic gameplay – everything in the environment acts and reacts as it would in real life.
Engage in hundreds of dynamically generated action-packed missions.
Play as one of three skilled Mercenaries including an American, Swede, or a Brit – each character has a unique set of advantages.
Obtain more than 30 real-world weapons including sniper rifles, grenades, and rocket launchers.
Commandeer more than 30 authentic ground and air vehicles including helicopters, cars, jeeps, tanks, and SUVs.
Choose your enemies or alliances between feuding factions including the North Koreans, the Chinese, and the Russian Mafia.
Authentic sound effects and Foley work recorded at Academy Award-winning Skywalker Sound.
Soundtrack by famed music composer Michael Giacchino (of TV’s “Alias” and Pixar’s upcoming feature “The Incredibles”).
The Havok physics engine was impressively implemented. During the demo, one of the producers made a number of jeeps drop from the sky over a hill to show-off the physics. While I wouldn’t say it was completely realistic – more like A-Team realistic – it was pretty damn cool to watch. Throw in an explosion or two, and it looked even better.
The ability to ally your character with the various factions is more streamlined than it sounds. When you come upon two groups fighting you can pick a side and start firing at “the enemy.” The side you help out will become friendly allowing you access to their vehicles, but more importantly they won’t shoot you unless you do something that puts you on the outs, like shooting one of them. This aspect will play an important role as the game progresses and mission objectives change.
Mercenaries wades into the fray January 2005.
(August 15, 2004)