Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was all about purposely blowing things up, and then grinning in the aftermath as you looked around at your handy work. Now for those expecting me to say that this sequel is a more grown up and intelligent game, Pandemic’s mindset was exactly the same here, thus it’s about delivering a very unsubtle message to your enemies by turning things into raging fireballs. Quite simply, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The three mercenaries from the original game make their explosive (for once, I mean that literally) return, each possessing their own strengths. Mattias’ health restores quicker, Chris can carry more ammo, whilst Jennifer, the solitary female of the trio, is quicker on her feet. Whichever character you decide to go with, they all have the common goal of revenge after being shot in the backside and betrayed by the non-paying Venezuelan president, oh and they all like blowing things up too, which at least means that they have something in common to talk about when they’ve got their feet up.

When you first set your foot in the country of war torn Venezuela, you could very well be disappointed with the visuals, as they’re rather underwhelming for a current generation game. It’s the explosions that set things right though, and as the game involves many of these big orange fireballs, you can’t really complain too much about deficiencies elsewhere.

As a mercenary you’ll be driving (like the original, if you feel the need you can pose as a member of a faction by driving one of their vehicles) around, doing jobs for different factions, playing them against one another, and proving that hired soldiers without any ties are not to be trusted. But being a game, getting a faction back on your good side is entirely possible, even if you capture high profile people from under their noses or level their buildings with an air strike, helping them out or waving cash in front of their faces will get them back in your good books, at least until you do something nasty to them again.

With all the above said, World in Flames may sound very familiar to you if you have played the original, and indeed it is. The structure is different, the high value targets may no longer be named after a deck of playing cards, you may now need fuel for all your air assists, plunging into water no longer results in your lungs exploding, motorbikes are now present, whilst helicopters can be hijacked from the ground by using a grappling hook, but with all the latter said it’s still an unmistakeable sequel to the aptly titled Playground of Destruction.

It still involves masses of explosions despite losing the destruction (flames is always a good substitute though) from the title, but when you want to instruct some air strikes (just wait until you get hold of the nuclear bunker buster) to be rained down from the sky, or other helpful things such as supplies or vehicles, it no longer involves you heading into the menu screens to visit a website. This time you’ve got to go to a base of a faction to buy directly from them, but fortunately for those who’d rather not be driving for miles just in order to purchase a weapon to drop on the heads of one of the factions, journeying there yourself is actually entirely optional thanks to a quick jump feature (more about this later). I still preferred the manner of purchasing on the original, as it made for a smoother game that allowed you to get almost straight to business, instead of having to amass a stockpile of air strikes, supplies and vehicles, before going out on a job.

Speaking of jobs, this time around you’ll recruit some hired help, these include an Irish helicopter pilot, a mechanic, and a drunken jet pilot. The helicopter pilot can extract big bundles of cash, free munitions (it’s really quite irresponsible to leave such destructive weapons lying around, just imagine if a kid got hold of one and brought about Armageddon), and fuel (as mentioned above you’ll need this for all your aerial operations, although keeping an eye on it and having to find fuel tanks is more of an annoyance than anything else) that you find on your travels, he can also quickly transport you to faction landing zones on the map that you have unlocked, as long as the mood of that faction is at least of neutral standing. Whilst the mechanic can develop unique vehicles for you, and finally the jet pilot will lay waste to whatever you command him to when given the instruction (he’s certainly remarkably reliable for a drunk).

Moving away from intoxicated pilots, there’s a lot to do within this virtual Venezuela: contracts, capturing or disposing of high value targets (HVT‘s), blowing buildings up, taking over outposts and striving to unlock all the items that the factions have for sale. It’s certainly a fun environment to be in, and if only I hadn’t ruined my chances of finding all the HVT’s, I’d still be playing now. An online co-op option is also possible for those who like to have someone else along for the ride.

So is it as good as the original? Not quite, I have detailed some of its flaws, but until now I haven’t mentioned that the game is also rather buggy at times. I have experienced a few nasty bugs that have forced me to reload my game, including falling from a helicopter and finding myself imprisoned in a bush, I also exploded a boat whilst I was still on top of it and, with a sigh of relief, found myself still in the land of the living, only to realise that I was walking above the water instead of swimming through it, also I can’t forget to mention the HVT‘s that occasionally disappear into thin air. For a game in development for such a lengthy period, surely Pandemic don’t have any valid excuses for this shoddiness.

There’s a lack of polish and less of a challenge in comparison to the original, although Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is still deserving of your attention if you liked Playground of Destruction or just like this sort of thing in general. Lets face it, lots of us do like witnessing such explosive devastation, but Playground of Destruction picked up this contract and did more successful things with it.