- Publisher: EA
- Developer: Pandemic
- Release: PlayStation 3, XBox 360, PC, PlayStation 2: August 2008
- Genre: Action (3rd-person shooter)
- Players: 1 local, 2 online
Fortunately, they found fit to maks a sequel: 2008's Mercenaries 2: World In Flames for PlayStation 3, XBox 360, and PC. A port for PlayStation 2 was also released at the same time, but it departs substantially from its bigger brother and, again, merits its own review. The plot this time around pits your PMC against Ramon Solano, an IT billionaire in Venezuela. In the game's tutorial mission, he hires you to free a friend, General Carmona, from prison, but instead of paying you, he tries to have you killed. In the meantime, he installs himself as the country's president with the general's help, but his days are numbered when your mercenary of choice decides to launch a campaign against the double-crosser.
|If a soldier finishes reporting to HQ, your standing|
with his faction will suffer. (PS3 version shown.)
It wouldn't be a Mercenaries game without the ability to call in airstrikes and support whenever you need them, and World in Flames does not disappoint. The problem lies in how you acquire them. Unlike in the first game, where you could place orders from your PDA no matter where you were, this time around, you have to buy them directly from one of a faction's shops, and add the goods to your stockpile. Then, you have to collect oil and spend it in order to call in your new toys. Wait a minute... Venezuela, oil, America against China... any more political and they'd have to use real world leaders! (And wouldn't you know it, the "Blow It Up Again" DLC expansion does something like that.) On the plus side, your helicopter pilot has the ability to pick up any of the frequently-found oil tankers and even airstrike ammo you find lying around, as well as airlift you directly to any outposts you've unlocked (provided you're in good standing with their owners).
|Fuel tanks like these can be stolen, adding to your stockpile, or just make a big boom. (PS3 version shown.)|
If you've read all this and wish you could have a friend share in the fun, you're in luck... sort of. Mercenaries 2 supports online co-op on both the PS3 and 360. It's drop-in-drop-out, meaning that anyone can jump into your single-player game at any time and quit whenever they (or you) wish. Unfortunately, there's no in-game support for voice or even text chat of any kind, so it gets all the more frustrating when your partner starts destroying things they're not supposed to or just stands around doing nothing forever. "But wait," you say, "I can't get the game to run when I'm signed in, so does that mean EA shut down the game's servers?" No, but the truth is more complicated than that, which is why I present to you an...
Important Notice: The PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 versions may not run if you try to play whilst logged into PSN/XBox Live, because the game gets stuck at the "Connecting to server" message, and doesn't even error out over time. Contrary to popular belief, the cause of this has something to do with the Terms and Conditions; EA must have updated them somewhere along the line, but never patched their new location into Mercenaries 2. Fortunately, there is a way around this. What you need to do is buy, rent, or borrow any EA-produced game released before Mercenaries 2 (August 2008) that still has online features up and running. Compatible games as of the time of this writing (December 2011) include Need For Speed Carbon, The Orange Box, and Battlefield Bad Company. All you need to do is accept the Terms and Conditions from one of these games, and you're all set to go back to Mercenaries 2. Oh, and the PC version's servers have officially been shut down, and the PlayStation 2 version never had any online features to begin with.
Edit 20/Jul/2012: Rumours exist that as of earlier this year, this bug has been fixed. I for one am not in the mood to test this for myself, at least not until I get the remaining online Trophies, but that's great to hear all the same. Lord knows I need some good news for once.
Seeing as how I've spent exponentially more time with Mercenaries 2 than any other game on my new PS3, I'll let you guess how much I like it. But critically, is it better than the original Mercenaries? There's not much World in Flames adds to the formula that makes it more exciting than Playground of Destruction, and what changes have (or haven't) been made tend to fall on the side of annoyance. At the end of the day I'd prefer more mechanics to have carried over from the first game, but what we've got is still perfectly satisfying for anyone with a hunger for open-world gameplay. Grand Theft Auto IV may be a more well-oiled machine, but I'll be darned if Mercenaries 2 isn't more fun to drive.
Graphics: 4 airstrikes out of 5
Sound: 4 airstrikes out of 5
Control: 3 airstrikes out of 5
Design: 4 airstrikes out of 5
The Call: 80% (B)
Next Episode: You know the worst manga I've ever read and reviewed? They made a sequel!