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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sandbox Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Pandemic Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 31, 2008

 

 

‑ Plenty of explosive bang for the buck
‑ Vast array of vehicles to help turn the tide of battle
‑ Mini-games provide a fun respite from the mission-based gameplay

 

 

‑ Open world is too wide open, requiring a lot of sometimes-uneventful traveling just to reach a desired destination
‑ GPS system doesn’t work very well in helping navigate gamers on the most expeditious route
‑ Weak enemy A.I. easy to defeat, especially with one-hit gun-butt kills

 

 

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

Review: Army of Two (360)

Review: BioShock (360)

Review: Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (XB)

 

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Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

mercenaries 2 world in flames          mercenaries 2 world in flames

 

There’s nothing worse than the wrath of a scorned woman, so it’s said, although the vengeance of a doubled-crossed mercenary may be.


In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames from Electronic Arts for the Xbox 360, a sequel to the popular Mercenaries from Pandemic Studios, gamers take on the role of a backstabbed mercenary, who unleashes a flamingly explosive wrath upon the primary Brutus holding the knife, Venezuelan drug lord Ramon Solano.

But to get to Solano, a gamer’s mercenary of choice must perform missions throughout the South American country for various factions: first Universal Petroleum and the People’s Liberation Army of Venezuela and then later pirates,

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the Allied Nations and even the Chinese Army.

These missions for the most part involve one primary objective: blow the crap out of everything and everybody in the way of reaching and wreaking revenge on Solano.

As a mercenary, there’s no loyalty to any one side in a skirmish – whoever’s paying gets benefit of the cash-hungry mercenary’s

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services – until the other side offers more money.


In Mercenaries 2, there are missions marked on the map – kidnapping/securing/eliminating opposition members, or destroying key targets front and foremost – that gamers can choose. In true mercenary fashion, gamers will play both sides of the battle in order to advance through the game. However, some strategy is required, because too much leaning toward one side of a fight will mean that gamers’ mercenaries can’t undertake missions for opposing factions until they’ve reached a “friendly” status with that faction.

Other requirements to progress further into the game include finding a small contingent of allied operatives, including a helicopter and jet pilot along with a mechanic. These operatives help the mercenary by providing transportation and firepower when needed.

Not that gamers will need much firepower. The road to Solano is paved much, much smoother by the fact that there’s pretty idiotic A.I. opposing the mercenary throughout Venezuela. Enemy A.I. is too, too easy to defeat, even when they’re coming at the mercenary with seemingly heavy-duty firepower such as in a tank or with a rocket launcher. Enemies simply don’t think their way through a situation, blindly running into the furious path of the mercenary. The most satisfying mercenary tactic is overtaking an enemy tank and taking down opponents with the tank’s mighty cannon, but paradoxically it’s even easier to rampage through enemy forces using nothing but the butt of a gun smashed into the face of a enemy just once, especially when the mercenary can take the same butt-kissing and survive quite easily.

Taking its cue from Grand Theft Auto IV, there is a vast and expansive gaming environment in the form of the Venezuelan countryside and cities. But as impressive as that sandbox size is, it sometimes can be too big for its own good, as getting from one side of the map to the complete opposite side can take a while, particularly when there’s no helicopter ride available (which instantaneously takes a mercenary to the desired locale, but only if the gamer has unlocked a landing zone at that location). Even using a vehicle can still take a long time to get a mercenary to the desired map point, but at least there’s missions to be found using the GPS along the way, although the navigational skills of Mercenaries 2’s GPS are not exactly Boy Scout worthy. Many times, the GPS, using a marked guidance on the map, takes the long, roundabout way to get there, most particularly when navigating a boat or a copter. When all gamers are looking to do is reach the mission destination as soon as possible, the GPS has apparently decided to take the twisty, turning scenic route.

 

mercenaries 2 world in flames          mercenaries 2 world in flames


Completing the missions, however, pays off not only in cold, hard cash – is there any better kind? – but unlocks new weapons and vehicles to use in-game. Many of the weapons can be “borrowed” from enemies, once a mercenary has disposed of them, and vehicles can be hijacked – including sky-high helicopters, once a mercenary acquires a grappling device. There is also fuel to steal, which is actually a huge aspect of gameplay, because without fuel, you can’t ask your helicopter or jet pilot to provide support. When there’s the need for a bombing run or mortar attack, a simple call will get your gas-guzzling pilot to unleash a flying firestorm of fury. Plenty of power-ups, including cash stashes and the abovementioned fuel and bombs for your pilots are tossed across the landscape for gamers to find, giving the game a much more arcade-style gameplay than a title that’s somewhat similar – Grand Theft Auto IV – only much more explosive. In true GTA style, jacking vehicles is a large part of Mercenaries 2. Not only are they necessary to defeat enemies and get around the expansive map, vehicles also provide a level of protection against bullets (although not so much defense against rockets that obliterate vehicles quite easily).

This volatile gameplay uses somewhat different strategies, including some missions better left to stealth tactics. But as a rule the bigger the bang, the better the chance of defeating any opposition, as guns a-blazing and bullets a-flying is much more fun and because of a bizarre health meter. The meter is hard to figure out, because it almost always keeps your mercenary alive longer than it really should while other times a striking an unexpected deathblow.

Along with the primary open-world gameplay, there are also some mini-games to entertain gamers. By betting against the mercenary’s crewmembers, gamers can gain cash in timed mini-games involving everything from racing to various shooting endeavors. While not something that will keep gamers away from the main gameplay for long, the mini-games provide a “mini” diversion away from Mercenaries 2’s setting-the-world-in-flames destruction.

Also featured is co-op gameplay, which gives gamers the chance to buddy alongside an online mercenary in-game, giving a extra set of killing hands to complete the many Mercenaries 2 missions. However, engaging in online co-op comes at a cost of aggravation sometimes when a joining companion has his own agenda and fails to put the “cooperate” in the co-op.

Certainly not as good as GTA IV, the similarly playing Mercenaries 2 still is enough of a blast romping through the jungles and cities of Venezuela with hot and heavy gunplay.

‑ Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(September 24, 2008)

 

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