Post-GTA IV, a developer needs to truly push the genre to remain relevant. Mercenaries 2 doesn’t. At its best, this is a competent third-person actioner, and at its worst, it’s an ugly, buggy, and irritating mess.
The opening to the game shows players everything they need to know about. The strong shooting mechanics are fun, controlling vehicles is a blast, and blowing things up is spectacular thanks to the wonderful destruction engine. From there, things stay strong as you learn about the game’s world, the different areas, and how things work out. Even the story, centered around ever shrinking oil supplies (even though gas is only a little over $1 a gallon on gas station signs) seems like it will work.
Unfortunately, as the game gets bigger, so do the annoyances. For instance, if you reach a checkpoint on a specific mission and die, you’ll be sent all the way back to the home base you started in with a long way to go to get back (and amazingly, the attackers will hold off on their assault until you get there). Purchasing weapons with money is a great idea, but why is it impossible to just buy a gun? Instead, you purchase an air drop, walk outside the shop, make a call, and wait for the item to dropped at your feet.
The above mentioned destruction engine must have taken a toll on the other visuals. Not only does this game suffer from the dreaded “everything is brown” problem facing many of today’s games, it’s flat out ugly. Textures are muddy, draw-in is awful, and you can literally find smoke billowing out of the ground from nothing. Apparently, Venezuela has flammable grass that never spreads, but smokes like crazy.
Even if you do get involved, that doesn’t excuse how terrible the A.I. is. It seems as if enemies are working with you most of the time, not against you. Better yet, they’ll kill their own leaders to get to you, forcing you to take a pay cut when the mission calls for bringing them in alive. Even friendly A.I. is awful. Apparently, it’s hard to see the player hijacking a tank, and the allies will still fire rocket launchers at it when you’re taking it over. Once inside, you have control of a nearly destroyed tank.
When not in battle, the A.I. is still terrible. Pedestrians are brain dead. You shouldn’t be penalized when someone runs in front of your tank and gets run over. You should be rewarded for weeding through the computer-generated gene pool. Playing with the destruction modeling is also limited since blowing up the wrong building leads to more fines. It makes sense in theory, but in the heat of battle when you’re trying to take down a target, stray shots happen. That’s war.
Online co-op is bright spot, but even this is screwed up. When one person dies, it’s game over. Both must survive the entire mission. Yes, revival is possible, although difficult in many combat scenarios. This makes some missions more difficult than they would be in single player. Worse, if a player joins your game and enrages one of the factions you’ve spent the time trying to impress, you need to work with them again to gain them back in your favor.
In theory, lets say you’ve managed to look past all of this. Now, you’re stuck with a variety of game-crashing bugs and various little glitches you can’t work around. Maybe you were in the remnants of a building which just exploded behind you. Debris fell on your head, and now you literally are stuck even after the debris fades away. You can’t pause, turn, or get any reaction from the controller. You either await death or reset the console. Other issues include disappearing enemies, random spawns, or vehicles becoming stuck on nothing after a flip. Not fun.
Mercenaries 2 is mildly fun by design. The shooting mechanics at their base are enjoyable. However, its ambitious open world design is heavily flawed as if there wasn’t enough time to think through the minor aspects thoroughly. That’s a game killer, and makes Mercs 2 an easy pass for all but the most hardcore fans of the original.
Mercenaries 2 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Language,
Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS2, and PS3.