Mercenaries 2: World In Flames Game Review (XBOX 360)

What’s It About?

Mercenaries 2: World In Flames (to give the full racing title) sees the player in the role of one of three tough arsed mercenaries heading into action in troubled Venezuala. Players of the first game will recognise the protagonists and their Australian support operative, which adds some continuity. At the beginning of the game, you have been hired to carry out a mission in the country. Following this mission you stay for … personal reasons. The main story of the game steers the player towards a resolution of this story via many, many explosive missions.

Review It

My first impression was not as positive as I’d hoped – Jennifer Mui, the ex-MI6 operative I played as in the first game has been altered from “stealthy” and more difficult for enemies to spot to being “The Fast Mercenary”. hmm. Once the game began, this was behind me. So I can’t be so stealthy? Never mind. Bring it on.

Game Engine

Oops...wrong car

The graphics are about what you’d expect from current generation sandbox games. The larger play area and choose-your-own adventure naturally lead to less than top-notch graphics. This doesn’t bother me. I prefer solid gameplay. The water looks gorgeous, however and animations are smooth throughout.

The game engine has one major flaw: The physics engine. I expect physics to be a bit unreal to allow for impressive boom-factor. However, not ten minutes into the post-tutorial game, I’d stolen a motorbike and was exploring. Not being the best at driving in games, I hit a tree. I went through the tree, with nary a slow-down and the tree tore like paper in my wake. Similarly, I very gently nudged a car. Which went flying off down the road sideways. See those massive fuel-filled containers? Bash them with a rifle stock and you’ll see how heavy they are.

Speaking of glitches, the afore-mentioned bike came into my possession in a rather bizarre manner. Two bikes came zipping round the corner with no riders. And they still manoeuvred. The first went zooming round another bend and the second, I can only assume out of embarrassment, decided to slow to a stop in front of me. Having said that, I’ve yet to encounter another case of driverless vehicles, so it appears to be a really random glitch.

Gameplay

Now onto the gameplay. This game is REALLY fun to play. Unlike the first game you get a set base to operate out of and can recruit support personnel to assist you in the field. Helicopter pilots will fetch supplies from the field and Jet pilots will deploy cluster bombs and the like at specified targets. Vehicle handling is forgiving enough but if you don’t feel like driving or hoofing it, then you can get helicopter transit to helipads in friendly bases. All good stuff.

There is an element of gameplay I’m a bit disappointed with. The manual speaks of fuel as being a resource that shouldn’t be squandered. You can steal it and need it to perform airstrikes, supply drops and the like. Ooh – thinks I, I must make sure to remember where I see it in the field. Same goes for other supplies – why pay for an artillery strike when you can steal supplies from the map? This is a great mechanic. Where it falls down is that these supplies re-spawn. Yes, fuel is not a rare commodity. Just walk out of the immediate area and walk back in. Lo and behold – the container has returned.

While this does mean the game has less resource management than it could – it does mean that the game has less resource management than it could so more time can be spent blowing stuff up. Which is really fun. Pretty much everything in the game is destroyable by one means or other and there really is a sense of satisfaction to be gained by bringing buildings down around enemy ears.

Another returning element from the first game are vehicle hijacks. These are action cutscenes that take place when the player attempts to capture an enemy combat vehicle – such as an APC, Tank or helicopter. In this game, a series of button presses needs to be performed in order to successfully take the vehicle, much as in the context-takedowns in Bourne Supremacy (see Review on this site!). While the animation associated with each vehicle type varies, there is only one for each, so these may become repetitive to some players.

Here comes Johnny!

Multiplayer

I’ve yet to have a friend “drop in” for co-op play, but I anticipate this will be great fun. The co-op works similar to that in Crackdown. The hosting player’s progress is used as the basis for the game’s progress but your ally will keep any money / supplies they collect while helping out. Can’t be bad. You can set the multiplayer options to allow anyone to join at will, friends only or operate a strict invitation only rule. Friendly fire can also be turned on or off to tweak the fun-factor.

Overall

Fun in the sun, with explosions galore. The only thing missing are gun-toting Bikini babes. Definitely worth a go.

Rate it: 4 / 5. Overall a fun game, despite the strange physics in place.

Dry Slaps: 3. The Physics really are shoddy and there should be more of a sense of having to conserve fuel / free airstrikes and supply drops.

Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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