|Mercenaries 2: World in Flames|
|Designer(s)||Cameron Brown (creative director)|
|Version||1.03 (December 4, 2008)|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Release date(s)||NA August 31, 2008
EU September 5, 2008
USK: 18 (cut)
|Media||Blu-ray Disc, DVD|
Vista: Pentium 4
with hyper-threading or Athlon 64 X2, 2 GB RAM,
GT or Radeon ATI
X1600 graphics card
Windows XP: Pentium 4 with hyper-threading or Athlon 64 X2, 1 GB RAM, GeForce 6800 GT or Radeon ATI X1600 graphics card
|Input methods||Keyboard, mouse, joystick|
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, often abbreviated as Mercs 2, is a video game developed by Pandemic Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It is the sequel to 2005's Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, and it was released in the United States on August 31, 2008 and in Europe on September 5, 2008. The game is a third-person shooter set in an open world environment of a war-torn, highly detailed, and modern-day Venezuela, following the story of a mercenary getting revenge at the man who betrayed him/her, while causing mayhem and destruction in the country.
The game features three playable characters, all from the original game: Jennifer Mui, Mattias Nilsson and Chris Jacobs. All characters follow the same storyline that centers on the player's character of choice. The game might be based on the failed 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is set in August 2010 in Venezuela. The story begins as the player approaches businessman Ramon Solano's villa. The player is greeted by a man named Blanco, who apparently once worked with the player but left him when he stopped making money. In the meeting inside the villa, Solano hires the player to rescue a top Venezuelan Army General named Carmona, one of Solano's friends, who is being held prisoner by the Army after a failed coup attempt. A small faction in his army did not agree with the coup, captured him, and has taken him prisoner in an old colonial fortress on an island off the coast of Venezuela. The player uses weapons and air strikes supplied by Solano to infiltrate the fortress and rescue Carmona. Once Carmona is rescued, however, Solano attempts to murder the player to avoid payment, and to make sure there is no interference with his plans for Venezuela. The player is able to escape, despite being "shot in the ass", and begins to plan revenge on Solano.
Following a second, successful coup by Carmona, he chooses Solano as the "civilian leader of a military government". Solano begins a forceful attempt to seize control of the country's oil supply, which is held by a company called Universal Petroleum, who tricked the former government into giving UP full control of Venezuela's oil. Fierce fighting ensues throughout Venezuela between Universal Petroleum's hired mercenaries and the Venezuelan Army (referred to as the VZ in the game) under Solano's control, resulting in a collapse of the country, driving people from their homes and causing widespread property damage. After taking control over Solano's villa, the player establishes his private military company (PMC) and helps the causes of the factions in exchange for money and information on Solano. This includes capturing VZ outposts, "verifying" High Value Targets (or "HVTs" for short), destroying key structures, and doing other work that the faction's forces cannot accomplish.
On taking of the villa, the mercenary begins to work with Universal Petroleum in the city of Maracaibo. The merc is given the opportunity to gain his first proper contract by Dr. Lorraine Rubin, to rescue a high ranking member of the company held by the VZ somewhere in the city of Maracaibo. Eventually, the mercenary finds him in an armored van on one of the main roads in the city. His next contract involves the protecting of the CFO of Universal Petroleum, currently stranded at the UP oil refinery. The refinery was evacuated due to Solano's "nationalization" program, which involved the overtake of the refinery. The CFO remained there in order to dispose of some documents that would be better kept secret from the rest of the world. The mercenary protects him long enough for the CFO to dispose of the documents, before they themselves escape as the refinery is overtaken by the VZ. During a conversation in the car on the way back to Maracaibo, the CFO reveals that Universal Petroleum didn't trick the country into letting them extract the oil for virtually nothing, but in fact that they tricked the country into paying UP for the oil rights. At their return, Rubin gives him the time of the meeting between Solano and Blanco, but doesn't exactly know the location of the meeting. She then suggests that the merc should go to the PLAV for information.
The merc meets with the PLAV, a group of rebel guerrillas intent on taking the country back to civilian rule, backed by funding from the People's Republic of China, intent on gaining oil rights. The leader, Marcella Acosta offers the mercenary some contracts in exchange for information, including the overtake of the town of Merida, a town taken captive by the Venezuelan army. After several contracts, Marcella conveniently tells the mercenary she knows where, but not when, and offers her final contract, to destroy the Oil tanker the meeting is on and verify Blanco.
Upon verifying Blanco and destroying the oil platform that he was on per request of the PLAV, the player learns where Solano is hiding. Seeing news broadcasts all over the world, Carmona realises that someone is going to invade, with Solano assuring him they can keep everything under control, mentioning about negotiations with the North Koreans.
The player attempts to destroy Solano's hidden bunker at Angel Falls, but fails as it is hardened against normal bunker buster weapons. Shortly after, the player is forced to defend his own headquarters from Carmona and his VZ troops. After repelling the attack and verifying Carmona, it is revealed that sinking the oil platform triggered an international response to the crisis in Venezuela. As expected by Carmona, a large force of American-led Allied Nations, familiar from the original game (the AN faction, a parody of the UN) and the People's Republic of China move into the country. The AN is supposedly a peacekeeping and nation-rebuilding force for war-torn countries (as seen in North Korea), but the player finds out that at the center of the operation is a CIA agent named Joyce, who was ordered to secure the oil supply when it became clear that their allies, Universal Petroleum, could not do so. The Chinese Army initially supported the PLAV, hoping that they would come into power and give China oil. When it became clear that the PLAV leader only wanted to stop Blanco and Carmona for personal reasons rather than overthrow the new government, the Chinese began a direct assault into the country. The Allies' and the Chinese' different plans for the oil results in a struggle for control of Caracas and the oil supply, thus an armed conflict between the two arises.
As the Allies invade, they begin to make posts across the country, and heavily reinforce the city of Maracaibo, the location of the Universal Petroleum Headquarters, and set their own Headquarters South West of Caracas, wishing to expand into the city. Thus, the mercenary takes over various outposts in Caracas, being payed of course.
After doing so, he/she makes the acquaintance of a CIA agent named Agent Joyce, who offers various contracts in exchange for a Nuclear Bunker Buster. The first contract involves stopping the Chinese bombardment on the city using both artillery and boats. The merc quickly takes care of this, saving the Allies from a high number of casualties. When the merc returns, he finds Joyce crippled in a wheelchair due to a small attack on the base. The next contract involves the destruction of a CIA plane wreck located on the nearby Chinese occupied island of Margarita. It is also revealed that the remaining survivors were taken hostage by the Chinese. The mercenary is charged with the duty to destroy the wreckage before the Chinese get information from it, and if possible, save the CIA hostages for a bonus. The wreckage is destroyed soon after, and if the mercenary has the chance, the CIA operates are saved. Joyce tells mercenary after several questions, that they can't simply take the oil for themselves due to PR problems, but would eventually get around to it.
Joyce offers the mercenary one more contract, to stop the impending Chinese invasion of Caracas becoming successful. To make sure this is carried through, the mercenary is also told to "verify" General Peng, leader of the Chinese campaign in Venezuela. As the Chinese invade, the Allies prepare a counterstrike, and the mercenary secures the city and makes his way to Peng's castle near Cumuna, another occupied city to the East. Eventually, the mercenary makes his way to the castle and verifies Peng, saving the Allies from major defeat in the region. The player meets with Joyce, who gives him the money promised but refuses to hand over the nuke. However, they then see a mushroom cloud in the distance, and Fiona tells them that Solano just nuked the Allied HQ. Solano then broadcasts over the city that if Allied troops do not evacuate the county immediately, more destruction will follow. Joyce is told by his superiors he must retreat back to America, and gives the mercenary the weapon, to make sure Solano's prophecy doesn't happen.
Due to Venezuela being an OPEC country, China decides to absorb it into it's growing sphere of influence, due to China's growing population. With the Chinese assault, the Chinese take control of Margarita, an island in the North East portion of Lake Maracaibo as their base of operations, and the surrounding area of the Allied controlled city of Cumaná.
Soon after, the faction pays the mercenary to take various outposts around the city. After this, they meet with General Peng, who was promoted after his successful campaign in North Korea. Peng reveals he is glad the mercenary is back, and offers him a series of contracts in exchange for a nuclear weapon. In the Allied City of Cumuna, the Allies are holding a Chinese soldier hostage in the centre of the city. To Peng's annoyance, the Chinese are not to carry through with any further operations until the soldier is saved. Peng tells the mercenary that in his first contract, he must rescue the soldier, and for a bonus, destroy the 3 key Allied controlled buildings in the city. After brief conflict, the mercenary takes the hostage back, and the Chinese move in and occupy the city for themselves. In his second contract, now that the hostage was secured, is to secure the oil for China. Peng reveals that Universal Petroleum is heavily biased towards the American forces in the AN, and that UP is thus another force of the Allies. Peng wants them eradicated, and tells the Mercenary to do three things:
The mercenary completes these, completely leveling the city, leaving only the AN to patrol the ruins of the city. China then secures the country's oil.
Peng then offers the player his last contract, lead the Chinese assault on Caracas to victory by verifying CIA operative Agent Joyce at the Allied HQ, destroy key Allied Nation occupied buildings in the city, and stop any chance of a counterstrike from the AN. After battling through Caracas, they mercenary eventually gets to the Allied HQ and verifies Joyce. In the Caracas City Centre, they meet with Peng, who tells the mercenary that the nuke and the cash are being delivered as they speak. They are interrupted in their conversation by a mushroom cloud going off in the distance, with Fiona revealing that the Castle of Saint Anthony near Cumaná, the Chinese base, was destroyed by Solano. Solano then broadcasts over the city that if Chinese troops do not withdraw from the country, more devastation will follow. Peng is ordered by Chinese superiors to return to China, and wishes the mercenary the best of luck with his final mission.
The player returns to Solano's bunker in a second attempt to destroy it. After fighting through Solano's defenses, the player uses the nuclear bunker buster to destroy a large portion of the bunker. Solano almost escapes the ruins in a helicopter, before the player hijacks it and kills the pilot. The player confronts Solano, with Solano begging for his life. The merc then bails out of the helicopter, killing Solano in the process. If the player has captured all of the game's HVTs, prior to capturing Solano, then he is knocked out and captured by the player's character, who calls the faction leader of the side assisted in the battle for Caracas, and informs them of this fact, wanting revenge for Solano nuking their HQ. The end cutscene does not change, however. The game ends with Fiona declaring Solano "Verified" on her laptop and talking about moving to India for their next contract, opening the next chapter to the beginning of Mercs Inc
Mercenaries 2 expands upon the original's third-person shooter gameplay through contracts and side missions using a large variety of weapons, vehicles, air support, and airstrikes. The game has approximately 170 types of vehicles; this includes monster trucks, bikes, heavy tanks, and helicopters. To complement the new swimming mechanic, new vehicles such as boats have been added. Hijacking still plays a large role in gameplay, but instead of being a fixed cinematic, now consists of a small minigame with difficulty relative to the value of the vehicle being hijacked. A grappling hook has been added to allow the player to hijack helicopters. The game has a large and diverse arsenal of weapons and airstrikes, including various sniper rifles and assault rifles, and a fuel-air RPG that releases a cloud of fuel and ignites it. The game contains a number of air support and airstrike options, such as tactical nuclear weapons and the M.O.A.B.
Players have the ability to build a private military company and recruit mercenaries with it. There are three mercenary NPCs that may be recruited: Eva Navarro, a mechanic, who can supply custom vehicles and unlocks access to the grappling hook; Ewan Devlin, a helicopter pilot who has the ability to pick up valuable objects the player may encounter and also provide transport and extraction; and Misha Milanich, a fighter pilot, who can be hired as your source for airstrikes. Prior to use, support items have to be purchased from faction outposts, rewarded from missions, or found in the field, for Ewan to extract. Stockpiled vehicles, items, or weapons can then be called in from anywhere in the field.
The player can gain money between missions by killing or capturing various "high-value targets" for each of the factions. Additionally, "destruction" targets allow players to raze a building for rewards and to raise faction standings. All factions have both high-value targets and destruction targets available. Some of the high-value targets are members of another faction, so accosting them can possibly lower the player's standing with that faction.
The game includes numerous side missions that can be completed to increase the player's reputation with a faction and earn him or her extra cash. Similarly, some missions will harm the player's reputation with a faction. However, loss of reputation may be avoided by preventing the faction's soldiers from alerting the faction boss. This mechanic limits the pool of missions available to the player. In addition, each faction requests the help from the player to secure outposts for them. After capturing an outpost, the player can then revisit the outpost to purchase support items. Each outpost has a helipad so the player may fly directly to them once captured, so long as the players standing with the outpost's faction is neutral or higher.
The Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows versions of the game include a co-op mode that allows two players to play through the game together online from separate consoles, using a "drop-in, drop-out" system. Every mission and activity in the game can be completed in co-op. A half kilometer tether is present in the game to keep the players from straying too far away from one another.
After the critically and publicly well-received original was released in 2005, Pandemic Studios quickly began the development of the sequel to its popular game. The game was first announced in the summer of 2006, and an early demonstration was shown at E3 2006. The demo showcased a new setting of Venezuela, and introduced Mattias, returning with a new costume and a mohawk, and Eva, an all new playable mercenary. Many new gameplay mechanics were shown, including grappling, water vehicles, the hijacking mini-game, and co-op play. On the technical side, the game was initially developed for PlayStation 3 console, which at the time had not been released yet. For the next-gen console, a new game engine written in-house was planned to incorporate dynamic shadows, day and night cycles, and dynamic damage and destruction system involving real-time physics.
On February 1, 2007, it was announced Electronic Arts would publish Mercenaries 2 some time that year. Three weeks later on February 22, EA and Pandemic further announced a multi-platform release for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and PS2.
In E3 2007, a stage demo of a newer build featured a fire effects engine that allows the player to ignite material such as foliage and trees. Pandemic also recently upgraded to the Havok 5.5 physics engine for realistic movements of vehicles and debris during large-scale destruction. As for the playable characters, the three mercenaries from the original game were brought back. no Producer Jonathan Zamkoff stated that writing was being improved to emphasize story and character development, aiming for a "Bruckheimer meets Tarantino action movie" feel. In September after the E3, however, Pandemic delayed Mercenaries 2 to early 2008, but stated that all the contents had already been put into the game and extra amount of polish would be added until release. In April 2008, the release date for all versions was again delayed but finalized to August 31, 2008 in the US and September 5 in Europe.
The game was extensively featured in E3 2008 for the last time prior to release. The characters that can be employed for the player's private military company were revealed. The Nuclear Bunker Buster airstrike and the M.O.A.B were also demonstrated.
The developers explained that all the game's characters are "equally powerful and cool and have their unique attitude and presentation and cinematics." Scott Warner, Lead Designer, explains, "each of three player characters are mercenaries at heart: they’re here to make money, operate outside of the rules of engagement and use their specialized skills to get the job done. This said, each is motivated by a different calling in life and this part of their character will inform how the story plays out, how other characters interact with them and how the world responds to their actions."
In preparation for the release of Mercenaries 2, Electronic Arts opened a commercial campaign in August 2008, with scenes of the plot of the game in a stylized world, featuring background music reminiscent of a "hip-hop musical" singing about how the protagonists are going to get revenge for getting shot in the buttocks and getting no pay to boot. The official Mercenaries 2 website offers a full version of the song that is written and performed by the Wojahn Brothers..
EA took over the Last Stop petrol station in Finsbury Park, North London, on the release day of the game in order to give away £20,000 worth of petrol for free, with each driver receiving a maximum of £40. The petrol station was transformed into a military bunker, with sandbags, oil barrels and jeeps. The area's member of parliament, Lynne Featherstone, described the campaign as an "ill thought-out media stunt" after it created unnecessary traffic congestion.
On September 30, 2008, Pandemic Studios announced that they were working on a free patch, called "Total Payback", that would add six new playable characters, cross-region co-op, and cheats. It was scheduled to be released on October 13 on Xbox Live, but was delayed until October 23 and again until "early November." The patch was released on October 23 for PS3 and October 31 for 360 users.
On December 12 2008, the Mercenaries 2 DLC content pack "Blow It Up Again" was released for download on the PlayStation Store. Pandemic later stated that they are "working with Microsoft" to ensure that the Xbox 360 content pack is released promptly, to follow Sony's sudden release. The DLC had relatively little advertising and failed to even have an official announcement from Pandemic aside from a simple trailer available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace. It has also been raised from free to $1.99. On top of this, the DLC was met with a cold reception by fans on the Pandemic Studios Community Forum, complaining about a lack of depth and inability to free-roam in the new areas of the game world. The "Total Payback" patch and "Blow It Up Again" content pack have not been released for the Windows version.
The game has been criticized by the Venezuelan government, accusing the U.S. government of trying to drum up support from the American public for a real-life invasion with the purpose of overthrowing Hugo Chávez. Pandemic Studios had previously developed training aids for the U.S. Army. In response to the criticism, the official website of the game includes the following disclaimer:
Pandemic Studios is in the business of entertainment. It has not been contacted by a U.S. government agency concerning the development of Mercenaries 2. All persons, storylines and events are purely fictional and bear no relation to real events. As with any number of games, movies and books, the decision to choose interesting events and locations is purely designed to tell a compelling story, as well as provide a fun and rich experience for the gamer.
Gunnar Gundersen, cofounder of the Venezuela Solidarity Network, dismissed arguments that it's "just a game", saying:
We have to put it in the context of how it would feel if the reverse was done. Can you imagine if a wealthy Venezuelan game-designing company with links to the military and funding from a famous Latin American entertainer invented a game where you invade the US to assassinate the president and take over the economy?
|Official Xbox Magazine||7.5/10|
Though praised for its colorful and destructive environments, many reviews have complained of "nagging annoyances" throughout the game that occasionally feel rushed and unfinished. One of the major problems was the unintelligent AI of both friendly and enemy NPCs, and the issue was aggravated by voice acting and repetitive lines. Some reviewers found several gameplay mechanisms questionable, such as the air supports and airstrikes being of limited value, over-powerful melee attacks, and simplistic faction dynamics. The reactions from the new co-op mode were divided; while another player added to the fun, there were limitations, such as the tether between players and limited role of the passenger when in a vehicle.
The PlayStation 2 version was heavily criticized, with an average score of 49% at Game Rankings. Some even called the PlayStation 2 version inferior to the original Mercenaries on PlayStation 2, criticizing its underwhelming visuals, foggy environments caused by short draw distances, and one of the "worst pop-in rates ever seen."
There have also been many complaints about rampant bugs and glitches (especially for the PC and PlayStation 2 versions) such as falling through the map, underground swimming and calling air strikes with no response, these could even stop the player from continuing normal gameplay and advancing the storyline. Most of the serious bugs were fixed in a patch for Windows.
Mercenaries 2 was nominated for "Dubious Honors: Worst Game Everyone Played" by GameSpot in their 2008 video game awards, which was a category for games with large sales that had been panned by the critics. In addition, it won "Dubious Honors: Most Disappointing Game" by GameSpot.