machofantastico's Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (Xbox 360) review

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Mercs 2 as its many faults, but its still a fun game to play!

For those of you who have ever experienced Pandemic Studios's Mercenaries: Playground Destruction then you'll know what to expect from its sequel. This is because so much of Mercs 2 feels similar to its Predecessor in so many ways and although in areas this is not indeed a bad thing, it is when you compare it to so many other open world games currently avaliable on this generation of consoles. Its fair to argue that aspects of what Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction offered was ahead of its time, but deep in the vains of Mercs 2 you'll find the blood of the last generation of gaming consoles and sadly its these issues that let Mercs 2 down because even though its still a fun game to pick up and play and you'll find still find a lot to like about this game, its hard not to notice the games many faults, glittches and issues as you try to enjoy the experience on offer here.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames lets you take control of one of three Mercenaries who simply want to get paid for their ''destructive'' work. You can play as Mattias Nilsson, Chris Jacobs and Jennifer Mui. All do offer a variation of options when it comes to going into battle for instance Mattias regenerates Health much quicker then the other two Mercs avaliable but you can't help but feel you'll still be using them for the same destruction everytime and the game doesn't really reward you if you try to be stealthy or precise. Its better to go in all guns-a-blasing and hope to survive. All three of the Mercs do have their own attitude to things and there is some nice dialog to be found throughout the game. The game is set in Venezuela and sees you helping a local drug lord by the name of Ramon Solano. He gets you to help rescue a captive VZ general. But rather then pay you for your hard work he decides its actually best to kill you (thats the good old Drug Lords for you). You escape and end up getting a bullet in your butt so begins a story of wanting revenge as you look to get your hands on Ramon Solano. The Story does help the experience but feels a little flat for the most part as all you'll trully care about is blowing stuff up, something Mercenaries 2 does very well. Compared to the original, it is in fact nice to have a story act like a spine to you being in Venezuela in the first place so for that it is to be credited.

When I said that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames felt similar to the original I meant it, because theres many aspects of the game that we have seen all before. The game generally controls exactly as its original, though thats not a bad thing as the controls were one aspect of Mercs: Playground of Destruction they got very right. It still feels responsive and very active, the only complaint to be found there is the slow turning the system seems to have. It can feel like it takes ages to turn your character 360 degrees and when in the middle of a heavy fire fight that is something that can easily cause death. But controls a more then solid and do a great job, with a game like Mercs its important the controls don't get in the way of the total destruction of Venezuela. Vehicles for the most part control perfectly well, Helicopters have a nice feel to them and although Tanks can take a bit of time to adjust to its all good and will be easy for anyone to pick up and play. 

Graphically Mercs 2 looks impressive when you order that air strike in to blow up that row of beautiful Ancient buildings for no good reason but your own personal sick pleasure. But the world itself, or Venezuela to be precise. Can look a little iffy in spots with some game textures either looking blurry or downright ugly. The game runs well enough and I experienced very little slow down through my play. There are some graphical glitches to be found throughout the world though and theres also a lot of pop in and pop out of objects of the world. These are to be expected with open worlds like this though there often can be to many to be excused and I defiantly ran into some of these moments while playing Mercs 2. But to be fair, it does its job fine and looks solid enough, as I have already stated Explosions look superb and have a real impact feeling to them. The much talked about ''total world destruction'' that developers Pandemic Studios hyped is debatable as not everything in the world is destructable. But I would say about 80 to 85 Percent of the world can be destroyed by some means. So for the most part Mercs 2 looks solid and runs well. Grand Theft Auto 4 showed that its hard to make a game look pretty all over the board when your building a game around an open world without any loading screens while traversing that world. Sadly my experience of the PC Version was less then great, it should be mentioned that at this moment the PC Version seems to lack higher resolutions for bigger monitors which is very disapointting but hopefully can be patched. Graphically the PC Version looked identical to the 360 and PS3 Versions of the game.

Many of the familar missions found in the original return, most noteably the obtaining of a targeted individual and either killing them or capturing them to get your pay from your customers your working for. Its simple but still a mission type that works well even if it can get a little repetitive from time to time. Repetition can sadly affect Mercs 2 in a big way, I learnt with the original that if I got a little bored I would stop playing and come back to it another time. This plan as worked again with its sequel as areas of the game can feel a little like the same old job from time to time and will lower peoples view on the experienced offered. Unlike my experience with Assassins Creed, I didn't find myself fasinated by the world itself to keep playing on even if I became frustrated at the mission types on offer here. But saying that, there is still a solid mix on offer that will no doubt please fans just as long as you don't try to play through the game on day one. There are a number of other aspects such as the common find and pickup mission modes where you can obtain spare parts for your own personal engineer to build custom vehicles. I couldn't help but feel that if the world of Mercs 2 had more detail and heart the experience would have been a much better package then the one we have ended up with.

Despite its problems, Mercenaries 2: World In Flames is a very appealing game. Instant action and enjoyment, not to mention the fun Co-Op on offer here. Yes, you heard me right. Mercs 2 offered Co-Op action with a friends and its a lot of fun. Infact its fair to say depending on your tastes, you might find Mercs 2 a whole lot more fun when your blowing stuff up with a friends rather then blowing stuff up on your own. Personally for me I do enjoy playing this game by myself, though I have played quite a bit of Co-Op on 360 and some on PC with friends. It seems to run pretty well, though with the PC Version the game seem to crash more often then not. But these are things that can be easily fixed with a patch or two, but the princeable is these things simply shouldn't be found in the so called 'final' version of the game. On the XBOX 360 though, the Co-Op ran well and was easy to pop in and pop out off. A lot of that is due to the superb XBOX LIVE system found on Microsoft's console which defiantly makes things oh so much easier to play Co-Op in. Though I haven't played the PS3 Version, I would suspect its runs aswell as the 360 version in both Co-Op and Single Player. 

Like a lot of aspects to Mercenaries 2, the Co-Op isn't perfect. The game doesn't do a Bionic Commando: Rearmed and adjust the difficulty level of the A.I when a friend pops in to help blow up half of Venezuela making the game feel often to easy. Areas of the game when played alone can feel way to easy so to make the game even easier in Co-Op feels a little silly. It would have been great to find that enemies were of a larger number to fight against, not to mention tougher to beat. But thats not to be and its one area of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames that left me disapointed. But you can still have fun playing, anyone who doesn't love blowing up building and getting virtually paid for it isn't human in my eyes. So your bound to have some fun in Co-Op even if it won't be as challenging or unique as you'd hoped it would be. Thankfully the game runs perfectly well from my experience in Co-Op and I didn't see any huge graphically fallout from having a second player in the world, everything still looked solid enough and explosions still looked as spectacular..... oh the explosions! 

Speaking of explosions! to create these explosions you'll need weapons and Mercs 2 as enough to please most folk, you'll always have your trusty RPG that often feels more like a machine gun then an actual RPG as you'll find enough ammo to keep your long necked beauty prepared to fire on that oh so tall tower and let destruction commence. Most of the weapons feel solid enough, though some weapons felt a little useless. Maybe it depends on your playing style but I hardly even touched a sniper rifle and when I did I felt as if they were some sort of afterthought. But I'm sure they can be of use to a different gamers style of play. Your character can only carry two weapons (usually the RPG and a Machine Gun of sorts) and they also have access to grenades and the ever so useful Satchet Pack for blowing stuff up. Like the original, there is a sick pleasure in strapping a few satchet charges to a vehicle and driving it into a enemy base for a huge explosion to occur moments later. It looks spectacular and feels great at the same time..... what else could you ask for. 

The game world also features a variation of vehicles. A hell of a lot more then the original and driving actually feels pretty solid. Its no GTA4 but cars handle a hell of a lot more realisticly then the original and special mention goes to the bikes found around Venezuela. The Bikes handle well and are a lot of fun to ride though not always the best choice of transport. There are also many military vehicles to be found (this is a warzone afterall) such as the mobile AA gun and the usually fun tanks to blow stuff up with. Infact everything about Mercenaries 2 drives you towards blowing something or someone up. I'm not saying thats a bad thing though. But its clear Pandemic Studios wanted to offer a satisfying experience to gamers who want a quick adrenaline rush or two and Mercenaries 2 will do that with passion. But for those looking for a deeper maybe even longer experience will be disapointing as the game doesn't totally feel as if it was worthy of its many delays in production when you consider the many bugs and glitches found throughout the game. I came across a good number of glitches including one where my character got stuck in an animation loop while climbing a ladder. I have also ran into some issues with the games foliage, while running if I hit a bush I would get slowed down by the weird animation of the bushes and trees around. Basically it seems to have a weird hit system that is hard to describe, but was very frustrating. Also not a lot of great things can be said about the games A.I. it can often act a little silly and slow, if at all. I ran into a good few enemy soliders who simply didn't even shoot at me. There not that much of a challenge neither, though in large number they can cause you more of a battle and require you to think a little better, But its to inconsistent to give it due and dissapoints for the most part. In this current gen gamers expect a little more from the A.I then what we find in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. 


Pandemic Studios have done a solid job in pleasing fans who were looking of a current gen Mercenaries game. But the game could have been so much more and could have been generally better developed. Some gameplay aspects feel old gen while other areas that do work well are more then often affected by general game faults and glitches. It looks solid enough and does explosions better then any other game out there. But Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is the perfect example that explosions don't always equal success as gamers nowadays ask for so much more then that and looking at it as a whole, you can't help but feel that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames as failed to live up to the hope of fans who were looking for the perfect Mercenaries experience.

Generally looks solid enough, colourful with some nice touches here and there. But some blurry textures and ugly pop-in and pop-out object issues affect the general look to the game. Explosions looks great though as does the games three main Mercenaries. Its just sad that amount of detail couldn't be carried throughout the game. It runs well, even in Co-Op and doesn't seem to take a heavy hit when a second player enters your own personal Venezuela. But the actual country can feel a little plain and lifeless and doesn't seem to have much of a character when compared to another open world game like Grand Theft Auto 4.

Not a lot as changed from the original Mercenaries Gameplay-wise. Not to much of a bad thing though as even today the gameplay feels solid enough and shows what a great forward thinking game the original was. Characters generally move with great response even if the turning degree speed of your Merc is a little to slow when in heavy action. A.I is to inconsistent and you'll come across a gliched enemy or two. Vehicles are solid enough and some are even quite enjoyable to drive, though tanks can feel a little strange at first and require some practice. But Helicopters handle well and aren't a chore to control like they are in many other games. 

SOUND (3.5/5)
The game sounds fine for the most part, with only two really worthy mentions being the great impact sound heard when you blow up a building or when those fuel tanks finally explode and the sound of gunfire which while probably not being the mode realistic out there, still sounds surprisingly good and in surround sound is defiantly one of the high points for the games sound. Other then that its nothing special, cars and bikes can sound totally odd and unrealistic but nothing to bad, remember this really isn't a Driving simulation game so such issues can be forgiven. But theres nothing to special on offer here and you get what you'd expect.

VALUE (4/5)
Despite its problems, you can still have a lot of fun with Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. If you enjoyed the original you'll defiantly find more to like about its sequel as it generally offers more to do and see. Co-Op is fun and does what it says ont the tin. Without Co-Op the game would recieve a lower score but not many games do Co-Op to well and for the most part Mercenaries 2 does a fine job and you'll find a lot to enjoy here. The games longevity depends on the gamers playing style as you may find you play each character different and I guess its fine to consider some gamers will indeed do that. But my own personal view on that is that my own playing style would find me attacking the same situations the same way other ever i am play as. But the world itself is still interesting enough to enjoy and there is a good amount of value found in the Mercenaries 2 package. But you can't help but feel that this game could have done multiplayer perfectly, GTA4 showed that you could so why couldn't Mercenaries 2?


Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (True English Gentleman)

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