World in Flames
- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
f this were a perfect world, “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames” would come with a promo sticker on the outside that read “The most fun you’ll have blowing shit up all year!” Yes, if nothing else, “Mercenaries 2” is a blast. Where previous games that featured destructible environments like “Black” or “Just Cause” failed, “Mercenaries 2” fulfills those certain gamers’ needs to blow things up in a big way and have a great time doing it. This game is akin to a summer popcorn movie – all big explosions, silly dialogue, and cartoonish lead characters – but boy if it isn’t a helluva a lot of fun.
In this little tale, you play one of three mercenaries: Mattias Nilsson, Jennifer Mui, or Chris Jacobs. I picked Mui because anytime there’s a badass babe in a game, she automatically gets my vote. No matter who you choose, the plot is the same: your merc is hired by a scumbag named Ramon Solano who wants some “favors” done in exchange for cold hard cash. You agree to do so, but soon find yourself double-crossed by Solano, who manages to shoot you in the ass during your escape from his goons. The only thing to do now is exact your revenge on him. So, you take over one of his villas and start incorporating help in the form of a mechanic, a helicopter pilot, and a drunken jet pilot who loves to bomb the hell out of anything. Meanwhile, your pal Fiona tracks your status and location via satellite, and assists you when she can.
The game is set in Venezuela, which is currently going through a bit of strife due to warring factions who all want Solano out of the picture as well. Of course, if you’re going to get their help, you’ll have to do them a few favors. Succeed in the factions’ missions and you wind up with a set of strong allies, as well as information and support that will get you closer to Solano. You can also just piss off every faction you meet and cause even more friction within the game. It’s basically all up to you.
“Mercenaries 2” features a bit of everything, from Third-person running and gunning to stealing and driving vehicles (like cars, trucks, boats and helicopters. There are also those “God of War”-style moments where you’ll have to push a button as indicated on the screen at a certain time to hijack vehicles. You know, the “interactive cutscene” as it were. In the times when you don’t want to complete missions and move the story along, you’re free to roam the countryside, stealing fuel, piles of cash, spare parts, and other items that are scattered about.
As great as this game is, there are a few flaws. For one, the AI is pretty half-assed. Sometimes the enemy forces will really stick it to you, but a lot of times, it’s easy to just walk up to them and start firing away without much worry. And while the game features a targeting system like “Gears of War,” it doesn’t lock down on any the targets, making your attacks a bit hit-and-miss sometimes. On top of this are a few graphical glitches. During one battle, I knocked an enemy jeep on its side and the gunner in the back seat wound up remaining alive. However, he was still standing up in the back of the jeep, perfectly parallel to the ground and trying to attack me. Unrealistic to say the least. There are also a few graphical jagged edges here and there, which after this time you’d think would not exist anymore on the 360, but it’s a minor complaint.
The bottom line is that “Mercenaries 2” is a ton of fun. Pandemic Studios have has created one of those games that is sure to please both people who want to play a shooter, but aren’t really into things like “Call of Duty” or “Halo,” as well as the people who are into those types of games. In addition to the main game, there are plenty of “mini games” in the forms of target practice, car races, helicopter winching exercises and more. Gamers can also take their play online and play co-op with their buddies. With an online account, each gamer’s game is automatically set up as a server, so it’s easy to join in at any given time. Online or off, the game is essentially the same great time to be had by anyone. It may be a bit mindless, but “Mercenaries 2” is easily one of the best action titles of 2008.