Version Played: Xbox 360
Current CEX Price: £1
The first Mercenaries game was released in 2005 on the Playstation 2 and Xbox; it was a ton of chaotic fun, with what was – at the time – a massive sandbox environment and lots of ways to cause destruction on a big scale, limited only by the technology available. Developed by Pandemic Studios, who also developed the classic Star Wars: Battlefront and originated the Destroy All Humans! series, it demonstrated a flair for open world destruction and fun that could also be seen in those other games too.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames launched three years later on the then-current gen consoles, Xbox 360 and PS3 (as well as PC and, oddly, PS2). It caused a bit of controversy at the time of release due to its insensitive use of Venezuela as the location of the story – but this was nothing new for the series, given that the first game was actually banned in South Korea due to it being set there. The Venezuelan controversy, however, was a little more personal than just a ban – the game was accused of being a way to soften American opinion for a real life invasion of the country – an accusation that, to date at least, has clearly been proven false.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is a bit of an awkward beast. Despite being released on a later generation of consoles than the previous game, it is barely an improvement from a technical standpoint – including its awful, very badly dated cutscenes. However, where it stands tall is in the hilarious destruction on offer, with over the top physics and pretty much anything in the world – aside from the biggest of buildings, for the most part – being fair game to destroy. This at least explains why the graphics in general don’t feel up to par – with near enough everything you see being destructible, it stands to reason that detail levels are likely to take a hit.
You can call in airstrikes, which is supremely satisfying, switching to a fuzzy bomb cam for a birds eye view as you do so. It’s hilarious fun.
The enemy AI is not great (to say the least!) and the script is limited – you’ll hear the same one-liners over and over again, ad nauseum, from your character and the enemies – but again, this is unlikely to bother you too much given the freeform chaos you can cause, on foot and in a variety of vehicles.
So, despite the fact that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames ‘won’ an award from Gamespot – in 2008 – for ‘Dubious Honors: Worst Game Everyone Played’, is it worth a try at Bargain Bin prices? Absolutely! It’s a perfect game to switch your brain off and enjoy just causing havoc with – the plot is wafer thin and the humour often groan worthy rather than grin-inducing – but it’s hard to argue with the fact that there’s such a big open space on offer (once you’re past the first few levels at least) and so much – so, so much – to blow up. I’m sure there must have been worse games in 2008 than this; Mercenaries 2 is a game I’ve been having fun with even now, eleven years after it was released.
It’s a shame there haven’t been more entries in the series, particularly with the technology on offer with today’s machines – but two games, Mercs Inc and Mercenaries 3: No Limits, were both cancelled by EA. EA gonna EA, I guess. The small light at the end of the tunnel – the one glimmer of hope – is that EA renewed the Mercs 3 website in 2019, with this potentially expiring again in 2020. Does that mean we may yet see another game in the Mercenaries series? We can hope.
Many thanks to the amazing ScaredyMat (YouTube link here!) for sending me Mercenaries 2 for review. Here’s one of his videos, where he plays through Amnesia: The Dark Descent (he’s a braver man than me!):
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