Back when the original Mercenaries came out, I was just finishing off my dissertation for the last year of my university education. It was a rather thrilling piece about the types of language used on the back of cereal packets.
I wish that were a joke, or part of some larger story that I could use to neatly tie up this little introduction to the article proper. Unfortunately, it isn’t – it’s just the first thing I think about when I see Mercenaries or its sequel.
That image of killing time between paragraphs by blowing up parts of Korea before returning to a jokeless and all-too-through dissection of Mr Kellogg’s and his mediocre marketing strategies is forever burned on to my imagination. Now, it’s burnt on to yours too and whenever you think about Mercenaries 2 from now on, you’ll think about my dissertation. And eating breakfast.
See, Mr Kelloggs? That’s marketing and finally my dastardly plan is coming to fruition...
Nowadays, games like Crysis and Call of Duty 4 have ensured that the word of the moment is ‘photorealism’, but back then San Andreas was king and the buzzword of the minute was ‘sandbox’. That’s what Mercenaries was all about.
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was the first game in the series and cast players as one of three different mercs operating within Korea during a fictional conflict where mercenaries are bought in to deal with the 52 most bad-ass and evil. You had the full support of a military operation, but without any of the morals.
Air-dropped jeeps, tactical airstrikes, assault helicopters – it was all yours to use and abuse and while there was some sort of pseudo-political plot tacked on to make all the violence at least seem justifiable, the reality was that nobody needed an excuse to blow things up. The story was born to be ignored.
Thus, while the main focus of the gameplay has been retained, the story for Mercenaries 2: World in Flames has been thinned down to something more easily synopsised.
It’s Venezuela and, as a mercenary who traded his moral compass in for a bullet proof vest early in your career, you are working for a druglord named Ramon Solano. Ramon is seeking to take control of the country and is engineering a military coup in which you play a part. Unfortunately, when the time comes for Ramon to pay up he isn’t exactly forthcoming with the cash and instead tries to have you killed before going on to cause an international oil crisis. Naturally, you don’t like that kind of thing.
Thus, the stage is set for another one-man war where you get to run around the country blowing stuff up and taking important people into custody, dead or alive.
With a revamped and reinvigorated faction system under the hood and the power of a next-gen console to run it, could it be that World in Flames can take the destruction to the next level? Let’s take a closer look…