EALA arming new Mercenaries

One week after laying off most of Pandemic, EA reveals next installment in guns-for-hire series; leaked pitch trailer suggests multiplayer focus.

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Last week, Electronic Arts confirmed the layoffs of roughly 200 staffers at its Pandemic Studios. Though it would not say how many staffers remained, the publisher did confirm the retained members of the Mercenaries 2 developer were being folded into the EA's nearby Los Angeles studio. EA vice president of corporate communications Jeff Brown also emphasized the Pandemic brand would live on at EA after the majority of its staff--including its three founders--had departed.

A preliminary logo for Mercs Inc., the IPO for which will not occur for some time.
A preliminary logo for Mercs Inc., the IPO for which will not occur for some time.

Today, EA revealed a new game that would bear the Pandemic name, temporarily titled Mercs Inc. Unfortunately, that's about all the company revealed. In a statement, EA senior VP and group general manager Nick Earl said that at EALA, "a core creative team is forging new ground and conceptualizing new ideas" for the series. He did not announce any platforms or release dates.

Luckily, a little more light was shed on Mercs Inc. by a pitch video unearthed by game sleuthing blog Superannuation. At less than a minute long, the clip features a wealth of characters leaning out of speeding cars to shoot similarly situated opponents. The trailer emphasizes cooperative and competitive multiplayer action, stating that players can play with, drive with, or simply kill their friends. Ironically, the visual artist who posted the trailer onto video-sharing site Vimeo laments that it had been canceled by EA in the clip's description.

[UPDATE] The video has now been flagged private and is no longer viewable by the public. A blurry screen-capture is included to give some sense of its preliminary graphics.

An unpolished screen capture of the Mercs Inc. pitch video's pre-alpha graphics.
An unpolished screen capture of the Mercs Inc. pitch video's pre-alpha graphics.

Mercs Inc. isn't the only new Pandemic title on the way. Next month, the last project from the fully staffed version of the developer will see the light of day. Set for release December 8 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, The Saboteur is an open-world action adventure game where players take on the role of a resistance fighter in Nazi-occupied France.

For more on the last installment of the Mercenaries series, check out GameSpot's review of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

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