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Mercenaries 2 Review

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Developer: Pandemic Studios Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: September 2, 2008 Also On: PS3 and Xbox 360

2008 may be remembered as the year that Electronic Arts made room for original intellectual property. With the likes of Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, Army of Two and Spore, the company is diversifying its lineup in a way we haven’t seen for a very long time. Mercenaries 2 is part of that strategy as it is only the second game in the franchise and the first under the EA brand. Unfortunately, it’s also the weakest of the new IP that they are trying out.

Mercenaries 2 is based around the idea that you can choose what missions you want to complete and sort of fill in the plot by taking your own path. Along the way you will encounter a number of different factions (six to be exact), all of them with competing interests and rivalries. The game begins with an international oil corporation known as Universal Petroleum, who are no longer welcome by the native government of Venezuela for which they are pumping out their oil. The Venezuelan government has its own problems in the form of a secessionist rebel group. Finally, a group of pirates from the Caribbean get added to the mix about midway through the game.

Later in the game the United States and China get involved, which adds a whole new layer of rivalry to the mix. The United States is most concerned with keeping the oil running, while the Chinese are supporters of the rebels in an attempt to get a foothold in the West. It’s really hard to play for one side, killing the other, and expect the one that you’re killing to then reward you with a contract. So at this point, you will have to essentially decide what route you will take.

The missions in Mercenaries 2 will require you to visit a headquarters or base of each of the various factions. Essentially each faction has a slice of a region or city in Venezuela and that is where you will find them to take on each mission. As in most games of this type, there is a distinction between the missions that advance the plot and side missions that will earn you both cash and respect with the faction. Most of the missions are some mix of protecting a vulnerable high value target for one of the factions, capturing a rival outpost or delivering some sort of goods. There are also a number of races in cars and on water.

Since most of Mercenaries 2 takes place on foot in third-person, you will need to collect weapons, ammunition and support weapons. Relatively early on you will get assistance from a helicopter pilot who can fly you from one friendly faction base to the next. The helicopter pilot is not only good for acting as an air taxi. He can also pick up items that you find throughout the world, such as stockpiles of weapons and cash. These stockpiles can then be turned around and used as airstrikes, artillery strikes and so on.

The map in Mercenaries 2 is huge. It will probably take you a good fifteen to twenty minutes to get from one side of the map to the other. Of course you will encounter enemies along the way, and they are sure to slow you down considerably. That’s why I always like to take to the sky by hijacking a helicopter. You do this by using your grappling hook when you are close enough to one of the helicopters. You can hijack anything in Mercenaries 2, including tanks, boats and as I said, helicopters. In order to hijack a vehicle you will have to accurately complete a button sequence that’s a lot like what they have in God of War. For instance, press triangle, move left on the analog stick and rapidly press square.

This all sounds fine and dandy, right? While Pandemic got down the basic structure of what would make a good open world game, a few critical pieces are missing. For one, Mercenaries 2 seems more like a chore at times than it is any fun. There are only so many bases you can capture, tanks you can destroy and trucks full of parrots that you can deliver before you begin to question why the heck you are playing this game. Furthermore, I encountered a number of glitches with trucks going into the ground, jagged edges on buildings and streets, and worst of all, brain dead AI that will not respond when you command them to get in your vehicles.

I can’t help but feel that Mercenaries 2 was rushed out of development to meet management’s deadline. If Pandemic were given even six more months to smooth out the rough edges, fix the glitches and possibly add more varied missions, Mercenaries 2 would have lived up to its full potential. As it is, Mercenaries 2 is a playable adaptation of an open world sandbox game with the niche of being a gun for hire in a war torn country like Venezuela. While it is definitely a great rental, I would not in good conscience recommend that you buy it.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.6
Written by Kyle Review Guide