E3 '07: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Hands-On

We go on a tour of duty with Pandemic as we see one of the least eco-friendly games of E3 2007.

It might not have seemed terribly remarkable at first glance, but 2005's Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox was a glorious tribute to the pure joy of explosive chaos. Though it was set during a military coup in a fictionalized version of modern-day North Korea, which gave it a real ripped-from-the-headlines vibe, its politics were strictly amoral. You were put in the role of a money-hungry merc whose personal politics made it easy to play the North Korean army, the South Korean army, the Chinese army, Allied forces, and the Russian mafia against each other for a profit, and the execution of your missions relied more on guns and ammo than tact and diplomacy. Having teamed up with EA for the sequel, Pandemic was showing off a playable version of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames at the Barker Hangar during E3 2007, and not only is that one of the most accurate subtitles we've seen for a game in a long while, it's also one of the most viscerally exciting games we saw during the show.

This time, the theater has been changed from a fictionalized North Korea to a fictionalized Venezuela, and the threat of nuclear war replaced with an oil crisis. While the topicality of the premise might give the game a real sense of immediacy, Pandemic felt like the missing link in the original Mercenaries was personal motivation beyond getting paid, and as a result has turned World in Flames into a bloody tale of revenge. It's a story that begins with you taking on a contract for a man named Ramon Solano, a charismatic megalomaniac who seems to have ties to both the military and the narcotics trade in Venezuela. Unbeknownst to you, the contract you've taken on proves to be the trigger to a coup that puts Solano in power. This wouldn't mean much to your character either way, except that when you go to collect for a job well done, Solano turns on you. Not only do you not get paid, you end up shot as well. From here, it's all payback.

Though your personal vendetta against Solano will be your character's primary motivation, you'll have to work your way though a series of around 40 lower-level targets before you get to take on the big man himself. Big-picture politics will also play a factor in how the game unfolds. You'll be able to take on jobs from several different factions, and those jobs will often have you taking the offensive against a would-be employer. Though you'll always be gunning for the Venezuelan army, your relationships with the Allied Nations, the Chinese, the Rastafarian pirates, Universal Petroleum, and the PLAV (Peoples Liberation Army of Venezuela) can fluctuate depending on who you decide to take on missions for.

If the politics sound a little dry, fear not, as the action in Mercenaries 2 promises to be anything but. Speaking with the game's senior producer, one of the primary philosophies behind the game's development is that if it can't be blown up, it doesn't belong in the game, which was quite apparent during our guided demo. The tour started with our merc hopping into a heavily armed helicopter, where he proceeded to cruise over the water, destroying a massive steel and concrete bridge and a huge, incredibly intricate offshore oil rig. He then headed inland, where he found a semi truck parked near a gas tanker. After hitching the truck and trailer together, he hopped back into the chopper, and grabbed them with the chopper's winch. He didn't get far before it struck him to release the winch, and then fire a barrage of rockets at the gasoline-filled semi--causing it, and a good portion of rainforest around it, to incinerate in a huge, satisfying fireball. Keep in mind that none of this had anything to do with the rescue objective that was at hand, but it sure was fun. Save for the contours of the terrain itself, it seemed as though you could destroy everything and anything in the game. The destructive effects looked really marvelous as well, from the way objects would crumble under impact, to the concussive force and heat that was unleashed when we called in a fuel-bomb air strike.

All of this wanton destruction will take place across a single environment that Pandemic estimates is about 8x8 kilometers in size, across which there will be no hard load times. While that might sound pretty big, one of the new features being worked on for Mercenaries 2 is a transit system, which will allow you to get to specific points on the map without having to drive there yourself. While being able to do whatever you want in an open-world game is about half the fun, Pandemic points out that sometimes you just want to get to the action already, and hopes this new feature will quicken the pace of the game. You'll still be able to hijack vehicles with ease in Mercenaries 2, though Pandemic felt that it was a little too easy to overtake certain high-powered vehicles in the original, and has made the minigames for taking control of vehicles like tanks a little more involved. Pandemic is also working on cooperative multiplayer support, and in what appears to be a burgeoning trend, it will work seamlessly with the single-player experience--you can allow a friend to drop into your game at any point and help cause a ruckus, and it sounds similar to what Realtime Worlds did in Crackdown earlier this year.

Pandemic is describing the feel of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames as "Tarantino meets Bruckheimer," and based on our demo, it seems like an apt description. This was one of the most viscerally exciting games being shown at E3 2007, and we simply cannot wait to see more of it.

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183 comments
August88_88
August88_88

I played the first mercenaries and loved it. I am so glad pandemic is making a second and with better graffics. Only bad part is the way ps2 won't be supplied with the Co-Op Action.

swiffer-q-hunt
swiffer-q-hunt

Cant Wait to play this GAME!!!!! shoot...ern me enough money to get me a nuke and.....WOO

nbalive50
nbalive50

The game looks cool, hope a demo is coming.

gazzad
gazzad

Gonna be an awesome game, it'll own GTA IV!

luke89330
luke89330

the demo looks sooo good, i guess EA didnt screw up Pandemic this time, i hope.

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

split screen multiplayer AND online would be awsome

ROOFDIER
ROOFDIER

it's gonna be one of the best games of '08

xXxilluzioNxXx
xXxilluzioNxXx

looks good. hopefully it will be as good as the first one.

Koal_Jadian
Koal_Jadian

The first Mercenaries was incredible. Will they have co-op for this? A feature like that makes a game from an 8 to a 10 especially in sandbox style mayhem

outofTHEashesXX
outofTHEashesXX

this wont get an M rating. i know i was a huge fan of the first one. and i have a cousin that works for pandemic. so i know a lot about this game already. this review is all old news to me. you will be very suprised at how sweet this games looks the demo i played was awesome this game is definetly going to be as good or better than GTA 4. all respect payed to GTA 4. i know what you mean zev_1 about the whole secrecy thing

premolight
premolight

If they can get literally everything to blow up this game will be off the hook and if the graphics and like kezza108 said if the physics are right this game will rule especially if the game has awesome games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kezza108
kezza108

If they make this game graphically spectacular then it will be an absolute blast, and if they can get all the physics right that would be great too, but looks bloody awesome. Its militarised GTA with DESTRUCTION!!!!!!

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

This looks like utter chaos! I so think that it'll get an "M" rating for sure.

zev_1
zev_1

THIS GAME WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!! Although I was hired to do some of the Voices for the character of the game, I was able to take a look at what they were working on. I can't say much ( I had to "swear-to-secrecy")---but what I can tell you is-- this game will change the way we see video games and the way they are played! You'll be shooting at me all over the game! ~Zev Esquenazi VOICE-OVERS on... Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Saints Row:2 Red Faction: Guerrilla Saboteur ----------- and a few other games that are still TOP SECRET! consoles: PSP, PS2 (waiting for the PS3 to go down in price), Xbox 360 (in June when they add Blue-Ray), Xbox mod w/XBMC, DS, Game Cube.

bullsfan769
bullsfan769

hmm for me the missions kind of got boring after awhile hope the good story will keep the action flowing fast

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

deadmanwaltzin said "wii is a monstoristy that should have never hapeened." LOL I agree wholeheartedly

kezza108
kezza108

This looks soooo bloody cool, hopefully co-op isn't restricted to having to be in the same vehicle and such, but still that will be good, long wait though=P

JDaleMoney
JDaleMoney

lets see here co op IN MERCENARIES 2 DOUBLE THE FLAMES,DOUBLE THE KILLING,AND DOUBLE THE MADNESS

teh_caboose
teh_caboose

Yay coop , awsome graphics, story, and awesome gameplay you can't ask for much more than that. Can't wait till it comes out. Hope its as good as the original mercenaries (one of the best games ever).

register3324
register3324

This game gonna be cool. But i didn't get one thing:why every game preview comments turns into a XBOX360vsPS3 warzone. Who cares with who's going to win the console war??

Solid_Devil
Solid_Devil

I have just bought the first Mercenaries for my PS2 and i really like it, so i'm definitely going to buy Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

deadmanwaltzin
deadmanwaltzin

pcs gonna split. its gonna become part of the divider in the hd-dvd/blu-ray fight using old media doesnt suit pc gamers they want to have the best now. ps3 should be cheaper and xbox 360 should have waited for a hd-dvd. wii is a monstoristy that should have never hapeened.

movalr8r
movalr8r

so the graphics are a little better on some games, who cares, theyre both good systems, people act like getting a 360 makes you a different race than people who get ps3s, calm down there just video games, they dont turn you into different people.

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

LOL this looks like a must get!!! now all this arguement of PS3 vs 360 is stuiped both work (Ryanray2 I have a 360 and it has never had even the slightest glitch) and they both deliver a fun experience. BUT ARE BOTH ARE INFERIOUR TO THE MIGHT OF THE PC AND ITS HACKING POWER!!!!!!!! ( PS: Pc may crash occasionally and virisus are included :P )

LPH79
LPH79

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Brokendemise
Brokendemise

*Drools*...man, thats the only thing the first one needed: Multiplayer. With the inclusion of this feature, the game will be flawless.

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

Ryanray2, you seriously need to do your homework before you write such a bunch of rubbish... first of all dvds holds 10gb per disc, secondly PS3 has new controllers... true, but what is new with it above it looks like a mistreated banana, it doesn't shake and it is ugly as hell?

Titanicles
Titanicles

"Xbox 360 is pretty much the same as the xbox but with better graphics, PS3 has the new controllers ( SIX-AXIS )" Err I hate to tell you this, but the controllers on the 360 are actually more different in design than the SIXAXIS and the 360 is much better than the original Xbox, I never liked the original Xbox, the 360 is also superior to the PS3 in the 3 most important areas, games, game quality and graphics. And besides it's not a PC so it doesn't need loads of features.

ryanray2
ryanray2

Xbox 360 is pretty much the same as the xbox but with better graphics, PS3 has the new controllers ( SIX-AXIS ) its got the blu-ray discs, that hold 20gb, dvd discs hold like 4 or 5 or something, whatever i dont give a crap, microsoft sucks, i had an xbox 360, it broke, the red ring thing, 33% of xbox 360's break, crap, anyway, mercenaries 2 will be awesome, drop in any time co-op, awesome, pimp-my-ride vehicles, even awesomer

gah468
gah468

the game actually looks pretty good on the ps2 don't ya think

vass86
vass86

"360 is half the price of PS3 how could u say it's better?" you sort of answered your own question. half the price and double the fun. xbox live is the best online service around and 360 has all the best exclusives. arguing that the PS3 is better because it costs more is simply retarded. i'm getting sick of arguing about it but you get PS3 owners who are quite bitter about spending a load of money on a console that isn't doing very well and so decide to give everyone grief. i can't wait until metal gear solid 4 comes out just so you'll all have something to do. actually it'll probably just add fuel to the fire

Cono_2007
Cono_2007

Can't wait for this game, and the co-op oh yeah! and you can make your own P.M.C. that will be awsome!!

Teebown24
Teebown24

this game is gonna be great. cometkd, the 360 does have hd capability if you took the time to actually get the specs before saying it sucked you would have known that. it doesnt have an hd dvd port though. oh well. i dont buy them anyway. besides some of us just prefer the 360 to the ps3. that doesnt make us poor. it just makes us different than you. besides, they fixed the problems on the 360's. and blu ray is still experimental. i may get a system that uses it once it is fully developed.

ryanray2
ryanray2

It will be better on PS3, 360's always break there faulty as, i had one it, i bought it brand new, it broke on the 2nd day i threw it in the bin, waited for the PS3 to come out, never looked back, 360 is half the price of PS3 how could u say it's better, it still uses dvd discs how could that be better then nxt gen discs DAH! peace out!

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

If it ain't going to be Q4 soon im going out of my freaking mind :)

spencdiamonds
spencdiamonds

K firstly I hope its EXACTLY like to old style except with more and I hope the only multiplayer is the co-op if there is so then the single player will be awsome ALSO giving it a story could make or break this game but the destruction on a 360 and PC will be awsome but not on PS3 because its... (any problems with my message pls reply by message to me and I will resolve it in an apropriate way with that person,)

Cono_2007
Cono_2007

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Cono_2007
Cono_2007

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Cono_2007
Cono_2007

I hope you don't have too do the mission's the right way to get the vehicles, on the last game i couldn't do all the mission's right to get all the vehicles. Also is there going to be faction's like the old game?

starwarsbeasts
starwarsbeasts

i was wondering if anyone knew if you can play co-op without online (as if you had someone at your house, on 1 console) - because i think crackdown had an only online co-op feature...

diamond2d
diamond2d

PS3's are much better than 360. Microsoft just care about money and did not properly test the 360 befor shipment which lead to faulty machines. The shader Processor is also alot better than 360 (u'll see on the release of MGS4) Lol this goes on every GEN. "N64's better than PSone" SNES better than Sega" lol quite funny if you think about it.

crazyslopytalk
crazyslopytalk

ZOMG the potential this game has.I hope there are lots of mountains cos imo the most satisfying moment is waiting for a jeep coming across a road then ambiushing from a hill. And PLEASE make the AI stronger and smarter Hopefully it will be better then lot planet which was a dissapointment

gijerky
gijerky

looks like it will rock hard