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Review

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Review

  • Game release: August 31, 2008
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

Broken, buggy, and shallow gameplay leaves Mercenaries 2's world in flames.

by

Imagine a game with a huge, open world filled with dozens of unique vehicles and attacks that let you cause destruction whenever and wherever you choose. Now, toss in game-crippling bugs, brain-dead AI, unsatisfying gunplay, a lousy story, and repetitive missions. That's Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Mindlessly causing chaos can be enjoyable in short bursts, and online co-op play spices things up a bit, but beyond those all-too infrequent bits of fun, Mercenaries 2 is a dud.

There are certainly moments when it's fun to blow stuff up.

You play as one of three mercenaries--all of whom have very similar storylines. The game follows your absurd quest for vengeance on a man who hired you to do a job and didn't pay. Mercs 2's story is bad (as is the voice acting), but it's ultimately inconsequential and all of the cutscenes can safely be skipped. The first few missions are designed to get you accustomed to the game's third-person-shooting action. In the span of 30 minutes you'll shoot several different weapons, use grenades and C4, and drive cars, boats, and jeeps as you secure what will eventually become your home base. After that, the first few contracts you take on are fun, but that's mostly because the gameplay mechanics are new and the thrill of destruction is still fresh.

It's after the first hour or so that you'll start to notice something's amiss. For a game that's all about guns, actually firing one isn't terribly satisfying. Weapons feel weak, it's difficult to hit moving targets, and the damage they cause is inconsistent. In fact, it's easier to hijack a tank or grapple onto a flying helicopter than it is to destroy one. Heavier weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades are great and can destroy almost anything they hit, but the amount of ammunition (which, for some reason, you have to hit a button to pick up) is so limited that you won't be able to use them often. Plus, it's tedious to have to go in a shop, purchase a weapon, go outside, call for the weapon, and then wait to pick it up. Why can't you just walk into a store and buy a gun?

The game's version of Venezuela is enormous, but while technically impressive, its size is mostly a detriment. There's not a whole lot to do, so you'll be tempted to make your own fun by blowing up buildings and cars and terrorizing towns in a tank. While this might be enticing (and fun for a few hours), it's a bad idea if you're trying to actually make it to the end of the game. Not only are you penalized for harming civilians, but one stray bullet can anger an entire faction. Factions are your main source of income and can be essential to mission progress, but when a faction is angry with you they'll quit offering you work and shoot you on sight. The large world also means that unless you're in a position to use the instant transport option, it takes forever to get from one place to the next. Roads wind aimlessly around the terrain; the GPS often gives bad directions; random friendly soldiers will blow up your cars; and helicopters are frequently shot out of the sky by missiles that rarely miss. To make matters worse, when you're killed after hitting a checkpoint you typically have to go back to your home base or the outpost where you got the mission and then travel all the way back to your target.

You'll eventually acquire the services of a mechanic, a helicopter pilot, and a jet pilot. The helicopter pilot is useful; he'll drop off supplies and transport you where you need to go as well as pick up the money and fuel needed for airstrikes. The jet pilot, who is a stereotypical drunk Russian, drops bombs whenever you call in an airstrike. It's too bad that airstrikes are of limited value, because you often can't get close enough or avoid being shot long enough to line up the target. There always seems to be something you're supposed to protect or something stopping you from transmitting--it's just easier to go in and shoot everyone. The mechanic is just plain worthless. She's supposed to use junk that you find hidden in boxes throughout the world, but unless you actively search for them, you're not likely to find many, and she won't provide anything more than the car she had when you teamed up with her.

It only takes one punch to kill someone.

Mercenaries 2 purports to give you all sorts of freedom when it comes to how you exact your revenge, but in reality, your choices are few. Yes, there are different factions and groups spread out across the map, but typically only one of them has a contract that will help advance the storyline, and you can get nearly to the end of the game before having to pick one side over another. Most of the contracts require you to take over an outpost for a faction, and when the game does give you the chance to do something else it's limited to annoying escort missions or out-of-place racing challenges. Each faction has a set of high value targets (HVT). You can earn cash by capturing or killing and then photographing these targets. This is interesting the first few times, but the money you make for bagging someone isn't worth the hassle. Factions get mad when you take out their people, and friendly soldiers will often kill the guy you're trying to extract alive. Capturing outposts is extremely repetitive. While the size and shape of the bases may vary slightly, the way you attack them is the same: Kill everyone inside and call in a landing crew. This can be mildly amusing for a short time, but the fun quickly grinds to a halt as the game's bevy of bugs and problems make themselves apparent. Enemy AI is horrific. If you're injured you can just run behind a building to regenerate--soldiers won't make much of an effort to find you. They won't even go to great lengths to shoot you if you're right next to them, often standing there oblivious to your shooting them. When you have to destroy a specific piece of equipment or vehicle, sometimes the easiest thing to do is stand next to or get inside of it and let the bad guys blow up the very thing they're supposed to be protecting.

The problems just keep on coming. Helicopters will vanish with you in them; turrets will float in midair; people you're supposed to rescue will drown themselves or run face-first into the helicopter rather than get in; and allies will shoot at you for no reason. Combat falls flat because shooting guys takes longer and is more difficult than simply running up to them and killing them with one punch; helicopters will often drop off support troops on rooftops, where they'll either get stuck or plunge to their deaths. Enemy soldiers respawn in gun towers even after you've taken over an outpost; they can shoot through walls and often appear out of thin air, too. Civilians will run right in front of you when you drive, costing you 5 grand each time you hit them; your helicopter pilot will sometimes fail to show up, or will drop your cargo where you can't get to it. You might even be unlucky enough to have the game crash during a load screen; or to be told that you're dead when you clearly have health left, forcing you to restart. You might even lose progress due to a save game failing. The list of bugs and problems really is staggering.

Really, the only fun to be had with Mercenaries 2 is in playing cooperatively with a friend online. You can chat back and forth during long helicopter flights, revive the other person when they're killed by an unseen foe, and put your heads together to creatively tackle obstacles. But even co-op has caveats. If either person gets killed, he or she has to be revived before the timer runs out or else the game will end--a problem when the other person is far away or in the middle of a long hijacking animation. Your buddies can also cause you a lot of grief if they anger factions or kill civilians, leaving you with a big mess to clean up. There are even more bugs than usual when playing online, which is no small feat given the problems evident during the single-player campaign. And lastly, co-op play makes the game (which, cheap deaths aside, is pretty easy) even easier.

The graphics have their ups and downs.

Mercenaries 2's visuals are inconsistent. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game are mostly similar, but the PS3 has some ugly aliasing problems. The vehicles look good, and there are a lot of them. Some areas are very attractive, and the varied terrain (cliffs, rivers, rolling hills) enhances the gameplay and will change the way you attack a target. The game's bread and butter--its explosions--are generally disappointing. Some of them look fantastic, but it's jarring how one animation transitions to the next when something blows up. There aren't many different buildings to destroy, either, so you end up seeing the same explosions and over again. While you can typically see far off in the distance, what you see isn't very detailed. This isn't a huge problem when you're standing still or on the ground, but when you're in a moving helicopter, the draw-in is obvious to the point of distraction. Clipping, hideously blurry backgrounds in cutscenes, repetitive buildings, enemies that all look alike (right down to the same terrible animation when they get shot), and a drab color palette round out the package.

Mercenaries 2 is filled with bugs and glitches that are unacceptable in a retail release. Even if it were possible to overlook the broken elements, you're still left with abysmal AI, repetitive mission structure, unsatisfying weapons, and a huge world without much to do. Mindless, random destruction provides some thrills, but there are so many better open-world action games out there (including the original Mercenaries for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox) that there's no reason to spend your time and money on this clearly unfinished game.

The Good
Co-op play can be a bit of fun
Causing mayhem and destruction is entertaining, though the game will often penalize you
The Bad
Dozens upon dozens of bugs and glitches
Unsatisfying weapons
Awful AI
Repetitive missions
Lousy story
5
Mediocre
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Discussion

31 comments
GulliversTravel
GulliversTravel

Great review, such a shame he got fired. I honestly think EA were behind a lot of the pressure given that he also rated the NFS game of the time poorly.

mrfidget
mrfidget

No, this game is pretty awful. This review is accurate.

ThGy007
ThGy007

This game deserves better than a 5. This is bull.

ThGy007
ThGy007

This game deserves better than a 5. This is bull.

yankeefan338
yankeefan338

knowing GS they'll rate gears 2 like a 6

yankeefan338
yankeefan338

i bought it and its way better than what GS said. they do this all the time, they obviously don't know how to rate a game

1valiantknight
1valiantknight

I find I disagree more and more with gamespots reviews. I have not run into any bugs at all yet and I'm almost done with the game. It seems to me the reviewer really just wasn't very good at the game and decided to hate it. The shooting mechanic is fine and not at all hard to use or aim. I had my friend play the game and the first thing he said was the controls were solid. My only real complaint is the graphics are sub-par. The voice acting in the game is not great, but if the reviewer hadn't already decided to hate the game he wouldn't have even mentioned it. If I want to read an opinionated review I will read a user review.

isoseon87
isoseon87

I was gonna pick this up today, and think I still might, I did after all buy Too Human, and that game is fun, and I thought pretty damn good, sure just as the story gets good the game end, but its a trilogy, so I can wait to see what that giant is up to, nevertheless, I have been looking forwards to this for awhile now, and I'm sure to get some fun out of this, thats all its about in the end, not graphics but fun!!!

ferid84
ferid84

wow 5 only?!!! but am going to pick it up anyway..and i hope this score seems fits to it. otherwise am going to rethink about Too human and infinite undiscovery...

neils_den
neils_den

5? 5?! Are you kidding? Maybe they'll patch it, but this game's a good 7 or even 8 out of 10 as it is. Great fun.

console-deity
console-deity

The AI's forgetting to shoot sometimes is more then made up for by their calling support, which can make missions much more challenging.

Estovakia
Estovakia

This reviewer needs to get a new job. I've played this game since the release, i did the first 2 missions, and i've been free roaming ever since. The graphics are BEAUTIFUL, and the scenery is magnificent. The AI is quite acute, and i just say when they fail to shoot sometimes as being sheelshock or something.

Un4givingAsault
Un4givingAsault

How can GTA be a better game than this, all gta had going for it was a story.

sasquashpie
sasquashpie

How can Kung Fu Panda be a better game then this?

spideytucson
spideytucson

this is why i dont buy games based on reviews I bought this game the day it came out and i love it.

Pete5506
Pete5506

i was looking forward to this game but dang

TheFallofTr0yx
TheFallofTr0yx

This game certainly did not feel like this gamer described. You are safe to buy this game, let alone rent it. This has easily become my favorite game and the missions, though repetitive, are so good that its a GOOD kind of repetitive. Explosions are amazing, AI is actually not bad. They have their brain farts and forget to shoot sometimes, but other than that, they do a good job at shooting you. The thrill of having all sorts of air drops and air strikes in your stockpile is incredible. I love this game

BigCat2K20
BigCat2K20

I'm still going to rent this game! It can't be as bad as this reviewer says, is it?!

fmobliv06
fmobliv06

honestly i've never encountered any of those bugs he mentioned and i hope i never do. and i must have played for around 4 or 5 hours by now.

Warlypwnage
Warlypwnage

good job EA, way to put out an unfinished piece of trash once again to make a quick buck.

byteme
byteme

I can't argue with much the reviewer says. I miss the deck of cards. I say 7.5/10.

honk_sm
honk_sm

I am just so pissed that the multiplayer doesn't work for many of us. Seems that a solid 1/2 of the gameplay is missing.

Mercenary848
Mercenary848

Jesus they give one game a bad score and you all cry. i stopped caring about their scores months ago, also its just one mans opion don't insult him because you disagree. Just play or buy the game if you like it like I will. Grow up you all have to be atleast thirteen to join the site act like it.

keldonhum
keldonhum

i've been playing this game since sunday and the reviewer does make some good points but the good outweighs the bad and it deserves at least a 7.0 i'd give it a 8.0 but thats just me, its real fun dispite its flaws, i'm now starting to rethink about believing GS reviews when they say something is worth playing or not, gone to go try Too Human which i didn't play because of GS review.

73X
73X

I'd rather spend my money on a supposed unfinished game that everyone else seems to like than trust an unfinished, 4 day late review.

Lukaex
Lukaex

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

console-deity
console-deity

Don't ever trust the critics, especially the GS critics, these guys don't like games they like movies.

Bloodbath_87
Bloodbath_87

User score: 8.5 Critic score: 7.7 GS score: 5.0 What is that?

Rob_101
Rob_101

5/10?! you've got to be kidding. I'm playing through the game right now and its at least a 7/10. I decided I'd skip infinite undiscoverey after reading the GS review. But now after seeing the Mercs 2 review I think I'll check IU out....

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames More Info

First Release on Aug 31, 2008
  • PC
  • PlayStation 2
  • + 2 more
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
Built from the ground up, this next-gen sequel to Mercenaries features a host of new features, vehicles, and weapons.
7.3
Average User RatingOut of 8421 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Developed by:
Pandemic Studios, Artificial Mind and Movement
Published by:
EA Games, Electronic Arts
Genres:
3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
All Platforms
Language, Use of Alcohol, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Use of Tobacco, Violence