labaterista2's Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PlayStation 3) review

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Mercenaries 2 could have been such a great game.

The original Mercenaries surprised most of the gaming world. Its combination of fun, challenging gameplay, and open sandbox world made it an addictive and fun game. With the release of Mercenaries 2, there is more of the same fun gameplay, but there are so many issues keeping it from surpassing its predacessor and justifying the amount of hype it has received. At times, Mercs 2 can be a fun, exciting game, but at other times its merely a stressful, frustrating combination of cheap, unbalanced AI, and game altering glitches.

When starting Mercenaries 2, you will first be asked to choose which of the three Mercenaries you will use. While each Merc might get his or her own individual ability, each one is the same, and your decision doesn't change any diologue or the format of the story. You will play as your merc as he or she works for a Venezuelan billionaire named Solano. Basically he betrays you, tries to kill you, and even worse...doesn't pay you. This leaves you on a mission for revenge to get back at Solano and his men. While the story isn't the strongest in Mercenaries 2, it isn't half bad either. You'll eventually create a PMC in order to get your revenge on Solano (which, strangely enough only consists of 5 people including yourself). While Mercs 2's story isn't as fleshed out as one might hope, it still is a decent story that is straightforward and makes sense from the start.

Mercenaries 2's troubles really begin with its gameplay. The series' sandbox gameplay is still here...airstrikes, vehicles, and supply drops are still at your disposal, and the game gives you many ways of completing your contract. However, now all drops require the use of fuel. While this adds a realistic feel to the game, it also makes it frustrating when you're in the middle of a contract and suddenly run out of fuel. Also, there is no more direct purchasing via the internet of your supplies. You must drive all the way to a faction's supply depot and buy it from them. This gets annoying because A. you have to drive long distances to depots, and B. the game doesn't specify which supplies are carried at which depot very well. This means you may run around for a good 30 minutes trying to restock on supplies before actually starting a mission, and with Mercenaries 2's insanely difficult and cheap missions, you'll need all the help you can get. Difficulty in Mercs 2 is hard to describe. While basically, the game is easy (people die very easily and can be killed with one hit by melee), it is also very cheap and frustrating. The game makes up for the poor enemy AI by making you go up against hundreds of enemies at a time. Most often, these enemies carry RPGs and are extremely accurate with their shots, which means you won't last very long if you take a few hits. Also, once you kill an enemy, they respawn almost seconds after. You may think that you've cleared out a building, and then a few RPG soldiers will spawn in the windows and start shooting at you close range. In addition to the difficulty, Mercenaries 2 suffers from quite a few bugs that make missions even harder. For example, one mission you must rescue a Chinese soldier from an Allied Nations base. While fighting through the mass amount of enemies and reinforcements, I suddenly get a Mission Failed message saying the soldier was killed. I wasn't even close to him, and he wasn't caught in any crossfire. This has happened not once, but multiple times to leave me frustrated and fed up with the game.

Apart from the main campaign, Mercenaries 2 offers a few side missions as well. However, these are just limited to capture and destruction missions, that get very old quick. When you find yourself bored, you may decide to just cause a little destruction. This will often get old after a while, and will also leave faction(s) disliking you. However, this can easily be fixed by paying a sum of money to the faction to instantly become friendly with them again. This is another major problem with Mercenaries 2, you don't feel as though your actions have consequences. If you run over people, you lose a meager $5,000, and like I said earlier, if you anger a faction, it can simply be fixed by paying a small amount of money to them. While Mercenaries 2 provides the same open, sandbox game the first one surprised us all with, there are many glitches, AI issues, and poor development issues that leave it in mediocrity.

Graphically speaking, Mercenaries 2 doesn't impress either. Anti-aliasing seems to be the major problem here as jagged edges can be seen all over Mercenaries 2's world. Also, animation is very poorly done and the physics can be pretty bad too (for example, trees can be smashed through, but you will get stuck in plants). Another big issue with Mercenaries 2's graphics is the view distance. While the view of Venezuela is pretty good from above and far away, when getting closer, you'll notice rocks and foliage just pop up out of nowhere. This makes the game look plain weird. Overall, there is nothing really positive that can be said about Mercs 2's graphics. While they aren't absolutely terrible, they are far from good.

Sadly, the bad doesn't end for Mercenaries 2 with the sound. Both the music and voice overs are very repetitive. Faction soldiers literally have two-four lines and they vary from "Hey, it's the Merc!" to complaining about the climate in Venezuela. Fiona, your computer analyst will also constantly remind you that there's always a job waiting for you at the PMC, even though that may not always be true. The three mercenaries share the same lines as well, and the lack of variance means that they don't really establish their own identity.

Overall, I want to like Mercenaries 2. It is fun at times, and the sandbox world gives you plenty of options for destruction and chaos, but all that is marred by glitches, poor AI, bad graphics, and all of the other things wrong with it.

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