Mercenaries Review

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Developer: Pandemic Studios Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date: January 11, 2005 Also On: PS2 and Xbox

Most people see Lucas Arts as primarily a Star Wars company. While they release a lot of titles, a majority of them are just that. Most games outside the Star Wars license really aren’t seen as great games. Armed and Dangerous was fun, but it was wacky and nobody took it seriously as a real game. However, there was a lot of speculation about Mercenaries ever since it was announced. It looked as though Lucas Arts finally had a winner that all would love. I mean, who wouldn’t like wartime GTA?

Mercenaries doesn’t really shine visually across all platforms. While some of the explosions are quite weak, the environments and character models aren’t. With the map being the relative city of one island in GTA 3, everything looks great with plenty of detail to meet your fancy. Plenty of time was taken to bring the Korean countryside to life for all to share. What is even better is that most things in this environment are destructible. Buildings, vehicles, and plenty of crates of supplies are just some of the many things you will find yourself bringing destruction to. There is quite a bit of fogging however that takes place all throughout Mercenaries. It does tend to be quite a pain, especially when flying a helicopter over the land and not being able to see the ground. Weather effects though are a nice added touch to the jungle like land. Again however, there is a distinct lack in variety when it comes to NPCs. You don’t even see any bloodshed when you kill them which is a tad on the unrealistic side, but this is a “T� rated game.

Mercenaries is a great sounding game via gameplay. The environments sound like a real life county side at war. All the sounds you would expect from a nation at war can be heard from scaled miles away. Firefights sound great, making combat seen very realistic. Silenced weapons were toned down just right to make them feel just right for their usage. Grinding of vehicle engines adds a nice touch to the realism of a war torn vehicle. The explosions sound good despite looking fairly poor by today’s standards. In surround sound though, you are in bliss of a true war experience.

Taking a look at the cover of Mercenaries, I really wasn’t expecting to play a great game. I was thinking I would have different levels to play and with different missions in each. I was way off in my assumption, not knowing that much about Mercenaries prior to playing. Mercenaries is a large spanning map where you will drive around and take on a variety of contracts like GTA. You will be able to hijack vehicles as well to drive in any style you choose. These vehicles will disguise you as one of the five different factions you will be working for as long as you don’t draw attention to yourself. By accepting contracts, you will improve your standing with each side or possibly hurt them. Get on their bad side, and you will have to make a bribe to take contracts from them. The purpose of taking these contracts is to help allied forces gain intelligence on the Deck of 52. You will be trying to bring down the Ally’s 52 most wanted terrorists in North Korea. Sound familiar to the Iraq terrorist hunt in Iraq? Your goal is to find the Ace of Spades in the end and collecting a nice bounty for each you bring in.

You will also find WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) scattered all over the map that can be collected for additional money and improved relations with the South Koreans. Once you have enough funds, you can use the PDA you are given at the beginning of the game and purchase drops from the online store to aide you in your work. This can range anywhere from weapons, vehicles, health packs, or even bombing raids on targets. Shooting tends to be a little random at times though. I find some trouble in killing multiple enemies surrounding me while on missions. Though your health will regenerate a little bit once you are near death, you will need to take cover if you don’t want to die and lose $1000. It really becomes a lot of fun to play for a little while.

Once you find the Deck of 52, there isn’t much else to do. Sure, there are three characters to choose from at the beginning, but they don’t have their own set of missions. The standard game can be completed in about 12-15 hours if you take the time to do everything. With no multiplayer or Xbox Live however, there isn’t much replay value. Mercenaries brings you a whole lot of fun, but only for a short time. A weekend of work through a rental is all you really need.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8.2
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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