2008 Reviews

Mercenaries 2

  • Review Date: 2012-03
  • Release Date: 2008-08
  • Developer: Pandemic Studios
  • Rating: 5.0

Let's just cut to the chase because enough of my time has been spent on this crude game. This is a poor mans Saints Row 2 with more explosions. I'm going to treat this review as a comparison between the two games because they were released months apart, use the same engine and clearly borrowed heavily from one another in terms of ideas.

Saint's Row 2 is a much longer game. This is helped by the dozens of side missions and activities you can do. Mercenaries 2 features roughly 45 side missions, each of which take 10-20mins. Most of which you don't actually have to do. Saints Row 2 on the other hand had way more than that, but they were silly activities like driving a prostitute around town, racing cars, protecting a celebrity. They just weren't fun at all, and what's worse is that the game required you to do them to proceed. Mercenaries 2 requires you to do them only to unlock items which will make the game easier. M2 (I'm sick of typing it in full) actually has fun side missions because most of them involve combat.

Indeed M2 is much more action packed, which is a good thing. Sadly, the combat isn't really that great. The entire game is played, basically, with a machine gun and rocket launcher. Enemies often just keep coming until you complete an objective, so it was only about 1/3 into this game before I tapped the unlimited ammo cheat in. I'm simply not going to fuck around trying to find a shop, mid-mission, to buy more ammo. Then halfway through the game god mode followed....

The problem is some missions can be quite lengthy - up to 20-30mins. With no checkpoints. What's worse is it's usually an enemy vehicle (tank) that kills you, or a bastard with a rocket launcher, of which there are many. The game turns into a process of getting hit by a rocket dropping to 3% health (every single time) running like hell to cover then waiting a couple minutes for your health to regenerate, rinse and repeat. Over and over. Ultimately you need to be quite reliant on hijacking vehicles - tanks even helicopters once you figure out how! Eventually M2 becomes quite a difficult game and you really need to use your stockpile of items a lot. This would be fine if there were more checkpoints or a damn quick save, but there's not.

Then there's all the stupid things that happen to kill you. The few driving/boat challenges which go on far too long without checkpoints and can be ruined by something as small as your car being tipped on it's roof (piss poor handling car I might add - much worse than Saints Row 2) or landing on the ground in a jet ski or boat or somehow getting wedged between the cracks of a ramp (wtf?!).

Back to the machine gun and rocket launcher - which are the most inaccurate weapons in the history of gaming. Don't bother trying to shoot a helicopter with a rocket, you'll never hit it as they flail in every direction except straight.

So some of the frustating features of Saints Row 2 don't exist here - but Pandemic Studios screwed things up in other ways.

On to the looks and both games fall a bit short. Saints Row 2 just had too much plain concrete city. M2 is much more scenic based in Venezuela amongst islands, jungles, towns and cities mixed in. It's a much better setting. Sadly, the quality is poor. I don't know if Pandemic just didn't make as good use of the engine or not, but the graphics look like they came from a game from 2005. They're poor. The trees are basic (and you can't even walk through them), the cities are uninspiring and drab. It's layout and setting of Venezuela is fine, but the graphics have no polish. White Gold: War In Paradise blows this game to pieces with it's similar island theme. And who's even heard of White Gold, despite it being a much better game? Even Saints Row 2, with it's boring city theme, has a bit more polish. I do still like the island theme, it's been one of my favourite settings since since Far Cry, but hell even Far Cry is prettier than M2. And that's four years old.

So to wrap this up; I'd definitely recommend the average Saints Row 2 over this game. I like the Venezuela settings, I like that it's a bit shorter and has more action, but like many console-based games there's too much playing missions over. And don't get me started on all the silly little bugs you'll come across or every character in the game repeating the same line over and over again line a broken record.