A momentary diversion on the road to the grave

Mercenaries 2

By Shepton on September 8, 2008 in Reviews

Final verdict: F
Final playtime: A few hours.



This game just barely lived up to my expectations. That’s not a good thing, as my expectations were lower than a limbo stick at carnival time. And that’s as low as limbo sticks get.

Straight away the game forces upon you some of the worst looking, poorly animated and badly voice acted cutscenes you’ll ever experience. There’s no emotion in the characters, the graphics are poor by modern standards, and the character animation seems completely disjointed and doesn’t ever seem to fit their situation. The scenes quickly change from viewpoint to viewpoint in ways that confuse the action and make it hard to figure out exactly what’s happening.

I felt no connection whatsoever to Mattias, the main character of the game (Yes, I know you can choose between three characters, but Mattias is the white male and therefore the central protagonist). His voice acting is horrendous at best, and the developers have clearly tried to portray him as a badass and failed miserably. Although, hey, he does come across as an ass. Half way there, guys! Partial credit!

Another thing I quickly noticed within five minutes of playing the game was that the character says something every time you pick up a weapon or kill somebody. However, they only recorded about two or three quotes for each of these, so you hear the same terrible one liners every thirty seconds or so. It got to the point where every time I heard the guy name his gun Louisa, I would have to suppress a strong desire to forcefully rip the game out of my disc tray and hurl it like a frisbee out of my window.

The one thing that the game has going for it are its destructible environments. Unfortunately, the developers decided to make this the entire point of the game; you solve every problem you’re faced with by blowing it up. I tried my hardest to complete missions without blowing things up, but it’s almost impossible.

There’s absolutely no realism in the destructible environments, either. Trees shatter at the slightest touch, even from a tiny pink scooter that tops out at thirty miles per hour, and you can plough through a fully grown palm tree without even flinching. While I’m on the subject of vehicles and driving, that is also entirely unrealistic. I drove a racing motorbike at full speed into a solid wall and didn’t lose a single point of health. The bike didn’t have a scratch on it and happily bounced off the wall and continued driving down the road without me. I followed it for a while. It broke a few trees and passed through some steel guard rails as if it were ethereal before I finally got bored of the ghost bike and let it go. The rest of the game’s vehicles also suffer from a case of the awfuls. Almost all of them are hard to control and sluggish. Then, you’ve got the sports cars and other fast vehicles that are far, far too sensitive, which shits all over the point of them being fast because you’ll spend all your time driving them into walls or around in circles. When a car explodes, you don’t die. You don’t even lose health. You just get flung from it and ragdoll for a while, before standing up and brushing yourself off.

I’ll admit that the first time you blow up a huge building while standing on it and letting it gradually crumble beneath you is fun, but when you’ve done it once, you’ve done it a thousand times.

The game is also terrifically easy. Try as I might, I could never actually die. I just loitered in front of enemy fire at 2 hp, not dying, for at least twenty seconds before finally taking my time in eliminating each and every enemy on screen and then casually walking away while my health returned to maximum. I’ll also point out that the bullets in Mercenaries 2 are so fucking slow that you can genuinely dodge them. That’s right, you heard me. You can just dodge the bullets. See someone shooting at you? No problem, just stroll to one side and return fire.

The AI in the game is pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. I stood and watched a civilian screaming and running away from me for a few minutes – only she wasn’t going anywhere. She just ran into a wall and never considered that maybe going around the wall would be a better escape plan. The factions in the game that you can work for have the default like/dislike meters. Only you have to do missions for rival factions all the time that contradict each other and affect your standing with them, meaning you’re often lowering your standing with a faction that you’re currently working for. Hey. That was a great idea, Pandemic. Fuck you.

Speaking of factions, almost every time a faction member saw me they’d say “Enemy spotted!”, even if I was on their side.

This game would have been half-decent maybe three years ago. Why was it even released on current-gen consoles?

Final verdict: F

Final play time: A few hours. I got bored and couldn’t stand playing it any longer than that.

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