Never has so much potential been squandered
Mercenaries 2.....I don't even know where to start.
It definatly looks like it had the potential to be a fantastic and fun experience, but is held back by some annoying gameplay glitchs and cheap tactics involved in the firefights.
Mercs 2 is not exactly your average sandbox game in the sense that everyone whos head of the mercs game will agree that it focus' on pure destruction of whatever gets in your way. A rather weird clash is how hurting civilians will cause you a penalty of currency, so while you are able to destroy virtually anything in Mercs 2, sometimes you'll have to pay attention to just what your aiming your laser sighted nuclear strike at.
Starting off, in the ps3 version, you will have to wait for an installation to finish up, now I haven't played any other versions so I wouldn't know how much it helps but I can at least assure you that the loading times are hardly present in the ps3 version and when one does pop up its usually only for around 3 seconds at most.
You then can start a new game on your own or maybe just join someones else game.
Sticking with the single player for now, you are then tasked with choosing one out of three mercs who all are very different in terms of their appearance and personality but don't really offer any difference when playing through the game as another merc. They all do at least have 'one'....yes only.. one difference between them:
- Mattius may regenerate health faster.
- Chris can carry more ammo.
- Jennifer can sprint faster.
Again just like you'de expect from that list, besides the very different personalitys of the mercs theres not a whole lot of difference.
Even the story sadly is almost identical...as whoever you choose your given a rescue contract by Roman Solano. Simple enough, your sent in on on island and equipped with alot of heavy firepower to really give a taste of what to expect. It is of course rather easy and does help you learn the new controls from the first mercs (if you played the first mercs of course) and also gives you a good first impression of the destructive quality and quantity there is in mercs 2.
Anywhoo job done, you return to Solano and he refuses to pay and even trys to kill you. You of course escape but with a loss of dignity though as (no matter who you play as..) you'll be shot in the ass amidst your escape, a predicament that never seems to go away with everyone always bringing it up, probably for some humor but it wasn't exactly hilarious when it actually happened so being reminded it off in like every cutscene really wears the joke down.
Then the free-roaming gameplay begins, your first tasked with a mission to take Solano's Villa which again is simple enough. The start of the mission you'll at least be treated to a motorbike which is new to the mercs series with the predessecor only having cars/tanks/apcs and helicopters available.
Once taken over then you are free to take on contracts or just blow the crap out of whatever you please.
Now thats all good fun but a few gameplay perks can really stand in the way and replace some sadistic fun with aggrivating frustration.
For one the vehicles all feel really loose and can be rather hard to control at times, there reliable though in getting around, they all have good acceleration and top speed but what is annoying is how you can simply bash through whatever comes in your way such as lamp posts and TREES!! YES FINALLY....but something like a curb or a small rock will send your car flipping all over the place and also losing around half its health.
Vehicles are surprisingly weak in mercs 2, while they can sustain some moderate gun fire a small bump into a wall and that will leave you with around 20 points of health less off...
Still on vehicles, its nice to see it caught up and added in boats, bikes and in general a hell of lot of vehicles to choose from. From your simple vans and motorbikes to even gigantic cruisers. The boats are pretty decent and are easy to handle, but bikes while speedy as they are just don't give you the feel of like your actually zooming around in a sports bike. For one theres no stunts or anything like that, you can do a wheelie but its laughably plain and looks like a simple animation added on just for the sake of having a wheelie available. Again bikes also can be hard to control, not in the speed sense but how delicate they are in simply turning to the left or right slightly can almost send you a whole 45 degrees.
But it won't matter too much since the unarmed vehicles are mainly there just to get you around, and they get the job done well enough just its not quite as fun to drive around as say GTA4. Tanks however are just as reliable and fun as they were in mercs 1. They can sustain alot of firepower usually, but again you happen to bump into a few too many pebels well your tank won't last very long. Helicopters too are of course back and handy as ever, but as handy as they are they won't last long considering as soon as they become available you'll notice a hell of alot of SAM sites popping around and men equipped with anti-air missile launchers.
In battle though that is reliable enough for some insanity inducing fun! Just like the original you'll have alot of different weapons at your disposal from assault rifles and RPG's to pistols and submachine guns this time around. You may also sprint now which is incredibly usefull for getting out of a hotzone or just dodging bullets left n right like they were BB bullets. The jump move is still here and this time actually looks like a jump instead of the weird pully animation from the original.
When in a firefight or all out war, you'll have an easy enough time going against whole armys of troops. Your accuracy at a distance is pretty off though so on foot equipped with an assault rifle its best to get up close n personal for some quick head shots, or a well struck melee attack. Actually the melee attack is so effective when combined with the sprint you could basically take on a whole squadron just by sprinting and barrel butting each of them one at a time, they can melee attack you to but doesn't do all that much damage unlike the one hit kill it counts for them.
On foot though you are actually surprisingly weak and will find your health pouring down to single digits pretty quickly, not like you'll die alot though because your health regenarates almost as fast and this time will carry on until it reachs maximum health. What you'll usually find killing you is..just like the original...the most over-powered enemies of all....the RPG men. They again will have infinite ammo and the blast radius for their shots is almost ludicrous, while again even on low health a quick RPG shot may not kill you because of your quick regeneration, you'll be up against so many RPG dudes that'll you won't even have a chance to regenerate.
You'll also go up against tanks and the like, and while there easy enough if your equipped with an RPG, manning a recoiless rifle gun or in a tank of your own going against so many you will easily find yourself bing overwhelmed and greeted with a 'contract failed' notice on your screen.
So yeah your on your own most of the time, but to make up for it you will have a whole nuclear armory at your disposal to unleash on whatever gets on your nerves. From simple cluster bombs to all out nukes theres a huge variety to match every type of enemy.
But then again, you could always have a go at some co-op. Yupp as we all know the whole entire game can be played through with a buddy...or random stranger. Whats weird is how the game itself isn't affected whatsoever. Yes of course you'll now have an extra gun to tag along and the contracts will be easier at least, but theres no specific co-op actions or activites, your co-op buddy will basically have the same actions as an NPC friendly. He/she may join you in a vehicle or man a turret of a tank. He/she may also get you in some serious shit aswell. Whatever they do in your world will stay that way, they launch an air strike on a factions HQ thus having them hostile to you...well its going to stay that way as if you done it yourself, so its definaly a good idea to have on the multiplayer options set to friends only since simply allowing anyone to join can cause you some greif.
Now how the contracts that you'll be accepting plays out are pretty simple, the objectives don't vary all that much besides go to an area, blow up everything in sight, payday...there will be some slight varients like maybe having to destroy/kill a certain target or maybe having to escort someone through all this mess. But its overall the same deal. Not likes its a bad thing since the explosions and all out chaos for me at least doesn't get boring. Besides the main contracts there are a few side missions to undertake. Being on your own this time stead of an official merc company like you were in Playground of Destruction, you will now be able to recruit some members into your PMC, you'll start out with Fiona only, she is there to offer you introductions to the factions and to give you advice ovr a radio just like in P.O.D. But you'll soon enough get yourself a mechanic, heli pilot and jet pilot to give you...well all the same stuff as you had in P.O.D really. Through the tips encountered in the loading screens you'll notice they say for example to do BLANK you will need to recruit 'A MECHANIC' trying to imply that theres more than one mechanic that can be recruited, but sadly no matter how you play you game and with whatever character you'll always have the same team of mercs working for you. But anywhoo at your PMC camp your allies may offer your wagers usually involving some standard races or targeting challenges, they reward you with money, if you win of course, and can even open up new types of vehicles and costumes.
Besides the challenges from your mercs you'll also find some tid bits around VZ to collect, such as fuel, some air-strikes or money even. Theres also 100 'spare parts' to be found that when enough have been found unlocks you customised vehicles to purchase off your mechanic. The bounties have returned but at a much less prominent rate at that. There scattered around but unlike P.O.D they don't neccasirly matter besides getting good with a faction and earning money, you don't need to capture them for intel or anything like that and theres no specific profiles for them etheir on your PDA.
Onto to graphics, its sort of mixed really, some aspects look brilliant like the explosions as you'de expect, but others like the vehicles occasionally will show off some incredibly ugly textures. The character models are fair but the animations are awful (but hilarious) in some cases such as falling of a bike will generally have your legs literally bending all over the place. Cutscene graphics however aren't up to speed with what next-gen should look like, they do like 'ok' but probably as a ps3 launcher title instead of two years on with graphical masterpeices such as MGS4.
The sound too is sort of a gray area, the voice acting for most is generally pretty good giving a humourous and light hearted take on war and mercenarys, though Peter Stormware (Mattius) is surprisingly bad though in comparison to his performance in P.O.D. At least Phil LaMarr and Jennifer Hale do likable performances as always though. Keeping with the voice acting, the NPC's voices will sadly drive you to insanity. There seems to be only one or two single voice for each faction and around 4 different phrases for each. You will hear them give each other orders at least, like if you hide behind a building you'll hear the enemy shout 'He's behind that building' but it literally sounds like its just one guy talking to himself the voices for each faction sound so damn similair.
Sound effects are fantastic with the explosions giving off an 'explosive' feel, very loud as you'de expect and match up to the weapons with each firearm having there appropriate weapon sound be it a loud n rusty assault rifle to a one of a kind american made Light machinegun.
The main faults though from what i've read is the uncountable amount of glitches all around the whole game, but for me besides some typical clipping issues and some rather brain dead AI I didn't have many problems, sure the explosions radius is a little large and the vehicles don't handle so well and can be flipped as easily as a toy besides those shortcoming I didn't notice much in terms of game-ruining glitches and I certaintly wouldn't go as far to say its broken.
No for me what stops it from being superb is a few other things such as limited options for co-op and mixed reactions to voice acting and graphics. The gameplay while somewhat flawed is still incredibly fun and the overall game should last you some time completing the story mode and doing all the challenges. And with three characters to play through, as almost identical as they are in gameplay terms there radically different personalitys and costume unlockables for me is enough to start again with a different character.
Overall though this is definatly not a game for everyone to add to their game collection but I do at least recommend a rental for any type of gamer, people who despise GTA4 will love it for its freedom and much more fun gameplay while anyone just simply after some mindless destruction to share with a friend this game is right up their alley.