Mercenaries is back and with a vengeance. “World In Flames” is an action packed, adrenaline fueled exercise in chaos and anarchy. In a game with an absolutely gorgeous and huge map with no real lag supported by Pandemic’s game engine where anything and everything is destructible with the use of enough firepower, you can’t help but be drawn in by it.
At the start, you choose to play as one of three characters — Mattias Nilsson, Jennifer Mui, or Chris Jacobs. Every character has a special ability. Jen is a bit speedier while Chris can hold more ammo and Mattias regenerates his help faster. Your choice is purely your play style and what persona you would like to play as because your choice does not cause the storyline to diverge in major way. They each have a bit of dialogue that is different but besides that there aren’t any other perks to picking on character over another which hurts the replay value (I picked Chris, hey the more ammo the better). No matter who you choose, your job will be to kill, destroy, and utterly obliterate anything and anyone…for the right price of course.
So the whole thing starts when you agree to do a job for Ramon Solano, a less than trustworthy guy who shows his gratitude by shooting you in the backside. No self-respecting merc worth their weight would let that slide and of course you won’t either. From that point on you set out on your quest get your revenge against Solano and destroy most of Venezuela in the process.
So the story isn’t really that deep but hey you’re a merc that pawns your services out to the highest bidder, I mean how complex of a story could we expect. The basis of the game is that you are out to gain enough information to get to Solano and make him pay for what he did to you by completing contracts for the various factions in the game. There are few story-driven cutscenes but you pretty much blow up everything.
You will work with five different factions, Universal Petroleum (the big oil company), the People’s Liberation Army of Venezuela (P.L.A.V.), the Chinese army, the Allied Nations, and the Rastafarian Pirates. The way the game works is you do contracts for one of these five factions and in return they give you information, money, and weapons, simple right? The only problem is completing a contract for one faction and making them happy usually involves pissing one of the others off, but no worries you can just complete contracts for the other faction or in true capitalistic merc spirit you can bribe them to love you again.
If you are a regular reader of ZKG, you know how important a good storyline is to me. However, in this game I must make an exception. The goal of the game is straight forward, the true joy in this game is the sheer destruction that you can create. So don’t get to bummed that the story is about as deep as a kiddie pool but rather immerse yourself in the unadulterated destruction that is Mercs 2.
When it comes to gameplay, its pretty straight forward and the controls are easy to learn. There are an array of weapons and vehicles for you to use. Whether it’s a broken down junker car, a Piranha tank, or an attack helicopter, if it moves you can jack it. Each major vehicle like tanks and helicopters each have their own unique button combination that you need to press correctly to pull of the theft, and while I thought this was brilliant as it makes you pay attention to which vehicle you are jacking, I found the button commands to be lesson than precise and even when I pressed the correct button combo sometimes I still got knocked back, this only seemed to happen with the tanks though everything else pretty much went as I expected. When the game starts, it is you and Fiona your jack of all trades support person. As you complete contracts, other people will become available to recruit. Once you recruit your first person and talk to them and they point you to the next person, I would suggest trying to get all your recruits together as soon as possible. In the end you will hire a helicopter pilot, a mechanic, and a jet pilot and the sooner you can get all through the easier the game will be and the faster you can travel the huge map that is Venezuela so I would get them in my service fast.
The real star of this game is the weaponry and the devastating amount of damage they can do. You have seen anything until you have after you have called in a major bombing run, artillery strike, or nuclear bomb on a set of particularly pesky enemies, its awesome. The only problem about calling in strikes or any kind of support is that you have to stop moving to do it and you are usually getting shot up in the process but no worries you regenerate health, I just wish they would have made it so that you could do these actions on the move. But be warned nothing is free and while you will notice that you are paid handsomely for your missions, you will very quickly realize that the real currency in Mercs 2 is NOT money which is very easy to obtain but rather fuel. Everything you do takes fuel, whether its calling Ewan to come pick up some case or weapons you have found in the field or calling in a heavy-duty airstrike, they all take petro, so when you have the chance pick it up. This fuel thing is very important as any really, really cool thing you want to do in the game will require it, so one of the first things you want to do is talk to the shops and get fuel storage upgrades so that you can store more fuel, which will allow this to be less of an issue, but until you get a pretty good amount of storage pay attention to your fuel supply. Now you will find fuel in all sorts of places, sometimes its just lying around and sometimes not so much. Any money or fuel that is unguarded don’t have any penalties for umm.. “acquiring” them, however if it is guarded by a faction then if do steal from them and they see you prepare for a fire fight so be forewarned.
In the end the game is a ton of fun to play even with a not so deep storyline and the multiplayer action which you can drop in and out of seamlessly helps. This one is a tough call as to whether it’s a buy due to the fact that the story doesn’t change based on the character you pick, though while it is not complex I don’t know if its something you can beat in a weekend either. There are also some missions where you are so outnumbered that even with the crazy weaponry and airstrikes they are extremely difficult to beat and that will make you not want to just quit. The map is just so huge and traveling back and forth takes time and fuel. For that reason, I would call Mercenaries: World In Flames a buy though you might want to wait a few days and see if you can find a used copy that you could buy and then take back and get all your money vice buying it new and then only be able to trade it. All in all, Mercs 2 does what it is supposed to do quite well and I give it 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.