Mercenaries 2 has everything a game needs to be considered a jewel: it’s the sequel to a chart-topping title – Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, it comes with the prospect of blowing up every corner of the game world and, atop of that, it was delayed for almost one year, from late 2007 to Q3 2008 in order to get further polishing. And I think these are strong enough reasons to consider it a possible hit. Unfortunately, it’s nothing but a huge miss. Let’s find out why.
The game kicks off pretty nice: you arrive in Venezuela, get a job offer from a big shot named Robert Solano and you start spreading bullets and blowing gates up, driving tanks and generally turning everything into a burning hell. Which, I must admit, is pretty nice for the beginning of a game. Unfortunately, that’s about it… the rest is either repetitive, boring or it simply lacks challenge and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames quickly turns into a huge pile of pointless violence.
The idea of the game is that, following the job you get done for Solano, he kicks you in the but and you need your revenge. There are many factions present in Venezuela, like the People’s Liberation Army of Venezuela, Rastafarian Pirates, Universal Petroleum, the Chinese army and Allied Nations and you can join any of these to achieve your goals. However, no matter what you choose to do the story appears to be the same and not after long you’ll simply ignore it, you stop caring about everything and mechanically blow stuff up. Because that’s the main source of fun in the game.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to do in Mercs 2, and I do mean it: you can virtually get into any type of vehicle, be it land, air or water and here are included some absolutely destructive tanks or the very cool choppers. There are tons of missions for your character to accept, thousands of enemies to blow up and lots of hidden items, quests and so on. Unfortunately, the mechanics are so bad that you will probably not have the needed patience to get to the later stages of the game or to spend your time searching for that extra mission.
The enemy AI is not at all challenging and most of the time you’ll get the impression that you’re fighting against training dummies and not cold blooded soldiers. They indeed come in huge numbers, but that only means that you’ll leave behind more bodies and it will take you just a bit longer to finish a rather easy job. If you are outnumbered and you need to restore your health, you can just run away to get your health bar back up: the enemy soldiers will never go after you, instead they will pretend that you never existed. The same goes for any other situation when you pass by some enemies: they’ll stay glued to wherever they were in the first place.
However, this lack of intelligence is compensated by their clairvoyant abilities: if you get behind a solid rock wall and prepare to throw a grenade over it, they’ll immediately start screaming “Grenade! Grenade!” even though there is absolutely no way for them to see you or hear you.
But that’s not all. Your character will have some serious trouble every now and then when he gets blocked behind a try, round a corner or God knows where. On the other hand, even the lightest Jeep will be unstoppable: it can cut down trees five times bigger, it can kill enemies and generally it will destroy everything that happens to get in its way. And these are some things that have nothing to do with real life or a quality game.
The sound in Mercenaries 2 is also completely uninspired – from voice acting to special effects and soundtrack. But especially voice acting: you have to choose from three characters at start (but there are absolutely no changes of the story coming with that), each with its own bonus – faster regeneration, greater speed or the ability to carry more ammo. Of course I found as the best choice the one which heals itself faster, but I had to re-start the game after about one hour because the voice acting and the repetitive lines drove me effing crazy.