Ostensibly, the basic gameplay structure of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
hasn’t changed all that much from what we’ve seen and the sequel is more about expanding on the freedom of the original game in a new setting than anything else.
In fact, Pandemic said as much to us when we last caught up with the team at the EA Summer Showcase event.
“Our aim for Mercenaries 2 has always been to make sure that when a players asks us a question about the game then our answer is always the same; yes, you can,
” said a consortium of producers and designers as they showed off footage from the latest version.
“Can I blow that up? Can I get on top of there? Can I fly that thing? Can I crash through that in a fence? The answer is always the same – yes, you can.
” the talk continued
That’s an intoxicating thought with a game like Mercenaries
where the world is so massive and the game fiction doesn’t force you to be accountable for your actions or held to a linear progression of events and morals as seems to be the trend for most singleplayer games.
isn’t most singleplayer games though. In fact, it’s not even all that similar to the most cited comparison; Grand Theft Auto IV
. GTA IV
may have that whole free-roaming thing in its favour, but where Mercenaries 2
differs is that it actually gives you total destructive freedom within that sandbox arena.
Let’s say you’re on an assassination mission for example. In GTA
you can go anywhere, fly to the top of the nearest skyscraper and start sniping enemies in safety until the police helicopters appear, at which point you shoot them down with a rocket launcher and flee in your own helicopter. Standard stuff.
In Mercenaries 2
, that situation changes though. You’re on top of a skyscraper, sniping, when a tank comes round the corner. You’re out of range, but as the shells start flying you slowly realise that it doesn’t matter all that much. The tank starts firing at the base of the building instead and in a few seconds time that skyscraper is going to totally collapse beneath you.
Thankfully, there are options. Do you destroy the tank with a rocket launcher? An air strike? A targeted tactical nuke
? Or do you wait for a helicopter to come round and start firing at you before you grapple-hook onto it and throw the pilot out before flying to safety.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
is, in other words, as over the top as you’re likely to find and is looking absolutely brilliant because of it. It’s like every Schwarzenegger movie you’ve ever seen rolled into one, made playable and fuelled by an apocalyptic need to watch things burn and fall into teeny tiny pieces.
Of course, most of that is the kind of stuff that we already saw in the first Mercenaries
game, Playground of Destruction
– which is thankfully backwards compatible for the Xbox 360. A lot of effort has gone into improving and expanding the game too.
In fact, when we say a lot of effort, we really do mean it. At the last presentation we saw there was a good twenty minute piece of semi-serious mockumentary detailing how one of the producers allowed himself to take a bullet in the buttcheek just so they could use the sound in-game.
The game has been expanded both physically and in terms of gameplay too – it turns out that the main level in Mercenaries 2
is bigger than all the maps of the first game put together, but that’s not all…