Mercenaries sequel doesn’t live up to hype

Pandemic Studios returns to the forefront with its new title, “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.” Mercs 2 serves as a loosely tied sequel to the original, which made its premiere back in January 2005. This re-entrance into the sandbox genre for Pandemic was highly anticipated by fans of the previous release. With revamped gameplay and controls, and a much richer, tropical habitat to destroy, Mercs 2 has all the flash needed to draw a crowd.

You start the game doing a simple contract for an old friend, but after being stabbed in the back (or rather shot), you decide vengeance is a much better option. The first couple hours serve as a full introduction to all of the gameplay mechanics, soon opening up into an open romp across a fictional version of Venezuela.

The game separates itself from competitors (i.e. Grand Theft Auto IV) by using a reputation system for all of the game’s factions. Your reputation level affects how much each faction appreciates you and is calculated based on whom you are caught killing and who you complete contracts with.

Some perks to having a high reputation include higher payouts, increased supply storage and the ability to purchase items for your stockpile. The stockpile serves as your personal supply of anything you might need air dropped to you on the field. Whether it’s calling for a medevac or dropping a tactical nuclear device on an opposing faction’s base, your enemy’s fate relies on how deep your pockets run.

The fully destructible environment means that when you have your vodka-filled Russian jet pilot bomb the enemy fortress, the walls will crumble in a beautiful orange glow. The new online capabilities don’t offer much to the foray, but they do allow a friend to jump in and out of your game without interrupting your gameplay in the slightest. Faction and money gained from co-op play can then be carried back to the single player campaign.

All of that said, I personally wouldn’t recommend this as being more than a rental. While the game amazes you from gameplay hour 2-10, from then on you realize just how repetitive the game can be. Many of the touted 150 vehicles just look different, and the missions consist of much the same idea: Go, see, bomb/kill the person and/or building with a check mark on it.

The story is weak compared to its competitors, and the multiplayer is limited by only being able to play within about 50 yards of your host. Overall gameplay is alleged to last approximately 20 hours, meaning if you have a long weekend to rent and play this, you will likely enjoy it. With the replay value of most games on shelves these days, a one-time-play like Mercenaries 2 should not cost the gamer more than $25.

Pros: Bombing (Nuclear weapons at your fingertips), beautiful environment, particle destruction

Cons: VERY repetitive voice acting, cookie-cutter missions, multiplayer has no use, short and easy