Review: Mercenaries 2 (Sony PS3)

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Genre: Action
Release Date: 08/31/2008

You know, I had to know this would happen. I don’t get hyped for games anymore. I mean sure I get excited but I don’t need a change of pants when thinking about too many games. Mercenaries was a game I loved (and reviewed) despite all its warts. I saw potential there. I saw a refreshing take on gameplay that was limited only by the game engine and the consoles it was made for. I salivated at the thought of the people at Pandemic sitting down some day and saying “OK, there’s a new batch of systems coming out, how do we make Mercenaries 2 into the game we all wanted the first Mercenaries to be?” I figured, damn, imagine Mercs 1 with better controls and more ways to take advantage of the fact that you are in deed a mercenary, not tied to any one faction. Now imagine it with better graphics in a game engine that doesn’t cause cars and tanks to play pop goes the weasel for no reason whatsoever! Think of the fun I’ll have when they ship this! Think about it! Glorious explosions all in high definition sound and picture. More airstrikes. More vehicles. A new country to violate. When the game was announced I was ecstatic. And when it got delayed I was sad but thought ok, they are going to make sure it plays exactly the way it’s meant to, without any bugs, with lots of polish. I like when developers do that. Blizzard does that and look how well Starcraft turned out.

So now it’s out and I’ve finished it. Here I sit reviewing it. Another example of why I don’t get hyped for games anymore. Bastards ripped my heart out.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you what they did right. I’m not going to say they improved on this or that. Because it doesn’t matter. Many people have said the game is more of the same, basically. And to a degree they are right. It is more Mercenaries. To a degree. In the same way that saying a Yugo and a Ferrari are just cars, basically. Mercs1 wasn’t exactly a Ferrari but it certainly wasn’t a Yugo. Mercs 2 took all that potential and crammed it into the body of a Fiero. Ya, that car that was meant to be awesome in the 80s but had horrible problems and became a laughing stock.

I have questions for these developers. Who decided that it was no fun to just be able to call in an airstrike? Who said no, lets add QTEs to the process. Who said no, gamers don’t want to be able to hijack vehicles, there should be effort involved. Who then further decided that in a game where you can survive repeated exposure to nuclear weapons and heal like Wolverine from every kind of explosive known to man, it was unrealistic to be able to repair and rearm those very same vehicles you have to now earn with those lovely QTEs? And lastly, who the hell decided to make it impossible for you to run and deploy your airstrikes at the same time? Yes, I wish to engage my enemy and then ask them to politely wait while I fumble about with my airstrikes in order to find the right one, WHILE STANDING STILL because moving will turn off my “PDA”. Yes obviously certain airstrikes require one to stand still. Accessing a satellite or lasing a target for something certainly makes sense. Deploying artillery on the other hand, or even deploying a cruise missile strike beacon however, does not. That one decision alone takes this game and makes it a waste of time.

And I haven’t even started in on the bugs yet.

Perhaps the game just asks too much of the system and its engine. Perhaps having a game that remembers which buildings have been leveled and which are still in pristine condition is just not feasible in this console generation. If so then let Mercs 2 serve as the example to future generations of developers: Do not ask a game engine to do more than it’s capable of. Listen to your game engine when it tells you it can’t do something.

If it’s not a case of asking too much, then it’s a case of not doing enough QA and lazy programmers. And by enough QA I mean none. There is too much going on in this game that isn’t normal for it to be a case of “Wow, how’d you find that obscure and barely reproducible bug?” No no. When I can destroy a guard tower and have the guy who was occupying it stay where he was for 5 seconds, in the middle of the open air like Wiley Coyote with nothing but his machine gun to keep him company up there, it’s a bug. When I can’t see a guard because he’s spawned INSIDE a rock, yet is still living, thus defying everything Dr. McCoy ever said about transporter technology, it’s a bug. When I call for my air support chopper to bring my C4 supply, and he gets shot at and decides the best escape route is DOWN through the bridge and river he is flying over, then into another dimension nobody can see, it’s a bug. When I can tell that the sound for the game was done in a week or so; with only occasional efforts made to make radio broadcasts sound like radio broadcasts, and then not even making the effort to ensure that broadcasts that would likely follow one and other sound the same? LAZY. It’s so lazy that I don’t even care if that previous sentence kept running on. WHEN I CAN SET MY WATCH TO HOW OFTEN I AM GOING TO HEAR FIONA TAYLOR SUGGEST THAT I COME TALK TO HER IF I’M FEELING LOST, it’s LAZY. In fact it’s not just lazy. It’s STAGGERINGLY LAZY. I could go on, but I’m not in the mood. Here, read some pithy quotes I came up with when I was trying to come up with a way to start this review.

Where’s the beach, cuz this game has the buggy!

Get the RAID, this game is full of bugs!

This game is the most atrocious example of shipping without Quality Assurance I’ve ever been introduced to (aside from the Xbox 360…HAH!)

Seriously Pandemic. I know you’ve experienced some traumatic events recently. Being purchased by Bono can have that effect on people. And then being purchased by EA, that’s like being purchased by the Pope then being sold to Satan. But there is no excuse for this game shipping in this condition. None.

Overall: Worthless.

Short Attention Span Summary

This game could be rated so high. Pandemic has stuffed so much into this game for the player to do that it should be a crime for it to have shipped in this condition. Patch your game Pandemic. You’ve got the money now. Clearly it was vital in some way to get it. Patch it. The game deserves better than this. Do it and then it might be worth a real review.



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