Mercenaries 2 a Giant Disappointment
"Mercenaries 2: World in Flames", which hit shelves August 31st, is the latest release from Pandemic Studios for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation 2. Highly anticipated due to it's predecessor, the title simply does not live up to the hype.
As a sandbox game, I have to compare "Mercenaries 2" to "Grand Theft Auto". Unfortunately for Pandemic, that comparison is rarely favorable. There are two kinds of "GTA" fans. Those that enjoy the missions and storyline and those that just turn on cheat codes and go on rampages. "Mercenaries 2" is for the latter group, those who just want to make something explode.
The storyline of "Mercenaries 2" is laughably simple. Guy pisses off Viking, Viking kills guy, nuclear war occurs incidentally. Pay it no attention to it because Pandemic didn't either. The cut-scenes are at best slightly funny and at-worst awkwardly mechanical.
While both Mattias Nilsson and Chris Jacobs, voiced by Peter Stormare and Phil LaMarr respectively, feel well characterized and fun to play, I felt that Jennifer Hale phoned in her performance as Jennifer Mui. I began the game as Jennifer, preferring the character's speed, but hated her character enough to restart as Mattias.
The entirety of Venezuela isn't at your mercy, only the immediate area around Caracas. This is adequate, however, as each part of the world is unique and interesting. The only filler is in the relatively small cities, which have none of the charm of those from the "GTA" series. The only buildings worth noting are those that employ you, all others exist only to be razed.
Pandemic implemented the cooperative game play well. However, the game has no local multiplayer options. You cannot play co-op unless your friend has another Xbox, Live account, and a copy of the game. I hate this trend.
The developers have accomplished their goals. The variety of vehicles, air strikes, and weapons available allow you to lay utter waste to a large game world alone or online. However, everything else feels unpolished. The big things are great, but the details are fubar.
Rarely do I see this many glitches in a major release. There are too many to detail here, but the worst is the NPC chatter. Intended to be informative, it is instead rage inducing. If someone is in my vehicle, for example, he spends his tenure constantly, as in every three seconds, saying "Hello," "Hey," "Yo," and "Hey look, it's Mattias." It's like a world populated by "Ocarina of Time's" Navi, but far less useful. An hour into the game, and you'll wish Pandemic put a shut-the-hell-up bomb in your arsenal.
Yet, somehow, it remains fun. Any game where my buddy can carry a tank with a helicopter, while I use that tank to sink an oilrig, is going to be fun. "Mercenaries 2" survives on such moments of over the top spectacle.
I give "Mercenaries 2" a score of 75%. It's fun, and a worthy rental, but there's no reason to buy it.