EA Mercenaries 2: World in Flames review
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is a Grand Theft Auto wannabe.
You play as one of three mercenaries, each with special abilities, who is unleashed into a war-torn Venezuela. In this open-world game, you complete missions for various factions in exchange for cash. The more missions you complete for each faction, the more favour you'll gain with it. There's a plot, but it's there only to string together the set-piece missions.
The game's main draw is the sheer scale of carnage. Every building can be levelled in an orgy of environmental destruction, and the resulting explosions look fantastic. Starting with a rudimentary arsenal, you unlock increasingly devastating weapons, from C4 satchels to tactical nuclear strikes. You can also call on teams of AI soldiers, which are flown in by helicopter to support you.
As with any self-respecting open-world game, Mercenaries 2 allows you to hijack vehicles, including sports bikes, cars, APCs, tanks and helicopter gunships. Hijacking armoured vehicles requires the completion of rudimentary mini games - pressing a sequence of buttons in time - but these quickly become repetitive.
Hurtling around the war zone in stolen vehicles is thrilling, but you soon realise how empty it all is. With the exception of pockets of skirmishing soldiers and the odd brave pedestrian, the Venezuelan streets are deserted. Enemy and ally AI is also hit and miss, with friendly units particularly culpable as they struggle to enter vehicles, or fail to assault enemy strongholds when ordered to do so.
You can also hook up with a friend and play cooperatively, which is even more fun. However, the game doesn't adjust its difficulty to allow for the extra firepower, so some cooperative missions feel patronisingly simple.
Despite its niggling faults, Mercenaries 2 is unarguably entertaining. Its constant emphasis on wanton environmental destruction might make it a one-trick pony, but it's an impressive enough trick to warrant your time and attention.