IGN Review of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
It's been more than three years since the original Mercenaries hit the PS2. Back then, the have-it-your-way-and-blow-s***-up title was something unique. That's not the case anymore. Developer Pi Studios was given a tough task -- make a sequel that was similar to the one coming out on PS3, but still fun. Mission failed. Mercs 2 on PS2 plays poorly, looks terrible, and is just not very fun.
The story in Mercs 2 PS2 is the same as on PS3. You play as one of three Mercenaries -- Chris Jacobs, Mattais Nillson, or Jennifer Mui. You've been betrayed and shot in the ass by Ramon Solano. Your goal is to find Solano and make him pay. It's a simple story with no real twists or turns. It's just an excuse (and a good one at that) to lay waste to Venezuela.
Mercenaries 2 features a decent amount of destructibility. Just about every structure can be destroyed -- well, everything but the impenetrable blocks of shrubbery. Use RPGs, C4 or call in a handful of air strikes to take a building down. Using C4 or calling in an air strike is easy enough. Just tap the D-pad and the game pauses, giving you time to carefully make your selection. It's good that the game pauses, or you'd probably be laid to waste.
The explosions are a bit of a letdown, especially considering the fact that splash damage tends to be weak. So enemies near a blast (even one from the turret of a tank) often won't fall. The best killing methods are either direct hits with RPGs or some rounds from an AK. Instead of causing chaos and death, explosions just cause a lot of noise.
Though the story plays out the same as in the PS3 version, the PS2 edition of Mercs 2 drastically restructures the mission. Sure, you'll still have to protect an executive from Universal Petroleum at one point, but the entire structure is different. And not different in a good way. Of course, the gameplay needs to be watered down a bit to work on the PS2, but that's never an excuse for poor mission design. Standing in a doorway for 10 minutes shooting respawning enemies who walk the same pattern each time isn't fun. Surprise. It's actually really boring.
Oddly, Mercenaries 2 eschews the more popular regenerative health system seen in many action games (including Mercs 2 on PS3) for an old-school system. Take damage and you'll need to find health pick-ups to refill your meter. Even after beating a mission, you'll have to find health in the game world in order to heal up. This isn't actually a bad decision. There's something comforting about the old system. In fact, it feels a bit fresh to have to hunt for a power-up rather than just sitting like a coward behind some rocks waiting for your health to come back.
One of the few real pleasures in Mercs 2 is jacking vehicles. Take on a tank and you are treated to an interactive cinematic. Hit the buttons as they appear on screen to play out the slick choreography and claim your prize.
When you're not plowing through the story missions, you can explore foggy Venezuela. The draw distance in this game is about 20 feet, which can lead to some hilarious driving mishaps. But the good news is that the framerate is fairly consistent. There are some side missions to explore to add some time to your game clock.
There are a number of high value targets you can go after. Knock them out and put them on a chopper for big bucks or just kill them quickly and snap a photo for half the price. Each HVT has a card with their face on it, which adds a bit of personality to what would otherwise be some nameless murders. You can also pick up jobs from contacts you meet in the street, though these errands tend to be more tedious than exciting.
There are snippets when Mercenaries 2 is fun. But these moments are short-lived, and often overshadowed by poor controls (touchy aiming and terrible vehicle handling) and bad AI. Co-op would have been a major plus, but it's absent in this version. In its place is a shorter single-player experience that's unpolished and a technical letdown.
CliffsNotes version: I didn't like this game.
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