We love hate to say it, but we were right: Mercenaries 2 is a rental (not even a “must rent” at that), not a game for buying.
While this isn’t an official review of it, we will hit the highlights for anyone interested right now:
- The overall fidelity (graphical, audio, etc.) of the game is about a 6.5 out of 10. Once you get into the game, you can tell the thing is rendering at like 480p and being post-processed so many times to hide that fact… for example jaggies are HUGE and the entire world is Depth-of-Field blurred to an insane degree, that if you ever take the time to get up near something, the texture work is circa-2001.
- For the most part this doesn’t bother you that much during gameplay, but the few times you do stop to “admire” something you are reminded that really the game isn’t that impressive graphically and you sort of slump your shoulders.
- The whole “blow up everything” is true, but you are either going to be calling in resource drops (at 5-10k a pop) every 20mins or running out of rocket ammo constantly just to take down the few buildings you need to take down, let alone the whole “leveling Venezuela to get paid” claim, you don’t have enough ammo to do that… I found that I wish explosives were laying around about 15% more than they really are or that you could carry double the rockets.
- NOTE: One of the core reasons this point was so annoying, is because of the issue below… if that issue was rectified, and there weren’t the correct types of damage, I would remove this point.
- The damage model is stupid, this is probably the most important issue with the game that serves to piss me off atleast every 10mins of playing, let me explain:
- It is not physics-based, for example, 10 grenades is not equal to a satchel charge… you either CAN or CANNOT blow something up with the appropriate ordinance. This is so goddamn stupid I cannot explain it… this is exactly what drove us crazy with Turok as well. For example, you can throw 200 grenades at a tank, and you cannot blow it up, but 1 satchel charge or 2 rockets will send it to the moon.
- This also means that guns, wether they are pistols, machine guns, 50-cal turrets or otherwise cannot damage anything that an explosive can damage. So you can sit there with a mounted 50-cal machine gun and shoot a tree-trunk until the birds come home, and it will never break. But if you throw a grenade at it, or bump ti with your car, the thing will shatter.
- This forces you to have the “right weapon for the job”, which in leui of the “we never say NO to the player” claim of the developer, is exactly saying “NO”… it’s saying “Go play this exactly how we designed it, stop messing around”.
- A good example of this was a wooden/sheet-metal fence I was stuck behind when playing with a friend, I threw 6 grenades at it, couldn’t blow it up, then we drove a car into it at full speed, that didn’t do anything to it, then we got into a tank and touched it and it SHATTERED… awesome, that’s super-realistic.
- There are also some things you think should blow up, that can’t… like giant wooden crates for some reason… go figure.
- The game plays out voice-over cutscenes and mission sequences WHILE you are fighting, which is completely useless… assuming you can even pay attention to what your contact is telling you while a tank is firing at you blowing up walls you are standing behind. We got stuck saying “What the hell do we do now?” quite a few times because of this. Maybe a game-freezing optional quick popup would be handy here…
- The whole Friendly/Unfriendly game logic seems to be dorked, we would be best-friends with a faction like UP, and standing in the middle of their camp and then suddenly they all went Red and turned on us, calling backup and trying to kill us… this happened 2 times, and 1 time ended as fast as it started and we had (and have) no freaking idea what is going on… there needs to be some context popup informing us of what just happened or a bug fixed… we don’t know which.
- No good introduction to using the menus, equipping attacks and using them. We didn’t figure out until 10hrs in that we could equip, on the fly, other things we’ve purchased by bringing up the Select menu, and using RT to bounce over to the Supplies tab…
- There are some bugs with regards to weird stuff happening and then you failing a mission, again, we had no idea what was going on a few times and would fail a mission or a car would explode miracuously or other halting issue… it’s not epic, just doesn’t feel super polished.
- Lots of loading times during play, and they seem a lot longer than they need to be… they aren’t epic, it just seems like you are watching a lot of them.
- More weapons… there aren’t a whole lot of weapons in this game, every other machine gun the bad guys drop is exactly the same thing you already have… and god knows machine guns don’t do shit because of the damage system, so all you really care about is explosives, and those don’t drop that often.
- Co-op is drop-in, drop-out, that is awesome.
- Co-op can lead to laughing-craziness that occured in Crackdown too, like accidentally blowing your friend to hell, or driving right off a mountain with them in the car.
- Hijacking vehicles use pre-defined quick-time-sequences that you can memorize which is GOOD, it makes getting vehicles easier and fun, as opposed to maddening God-of-War-esque sequences.
- You can hijack (almost?) everything you can see… including tug boats, big gun boats, etc.
- The world is pretty big, there seems to be alot of tasks and micro-tasks to accomplish around the world if you want to dick around.
- You can blow up a lot of stuff… we took down a HUGE radio tower with some satchel charges, that was cool.
- Hand-brake control on the vehicles is spot-on… it’s probably not realistic, but it makes a 90-degree turn around a corner perfectly easy so you can keep racing wherever you were going.
- Helicopter flight control design is awesome. Helicopters are super-easy to fly and navigate to the point that I think every other fighting game like Battlefield should just copy what Pandemic did here, it felt really intuitive.
- The physics are glitchy… yes this is actually on the good list, the reason for that is because it’s hilarious 90% of the time. For example, if you jump the car over a hill and leap out, the physics on the car dorks out and the car just FLIES away… if you do this with your FRIEND in the car, while the car is on fire, it’s piss-pants-worthy… we also hit a pot-hole once and our jeep flew straight up into the air 150 ft… again, hilarious.
Overall this game is about a 6-6.5 out of 10, it’s not an excellent game nor could it have been with any resonable amount of work.
What I mean is, the premise is retarded-fun, just like Crackdown was, sorta like playing cards with your friends while drinking… it’s not the most fun you’ve ever had, but you love it when you want it.
What would have made this game a lot better would have been:
- Fix the damage modelling (biggest issue I had)
- More attention to detail and the world, this includes:
- Better visuals (much better textures)
- Better physical representation of items in the world, I *think* this was a side effect of Pandemic doing their own engine instead of building on something so instead of polish and customization, all the time went into core engine design (yay wasted time)
- Either more items and make all items easier to destroy, or the same amount of items, but more reactive to the destruction aspects… like blowing sections of a wall apart… I saw this a little bit… like once, wiht a building and a hole in it’s wall, and that was it.
- Better audio, the constantly-repeating-voice-samples were annoying
- Improve load times, get rid of most of them if possible
If all that was tightly packaged together I think that would bump the game to a solid 8 out of 10 and into the category of “definite buy for sandbox or co-op fans”, but unfortunately it’s not and I’ve never seen a company issue a patch this big before to fix gaming issues like that, it doesn’t sell more copies… so I think it’s safe to say, sans some tightening, we likely aren’t going to see a significantly different version of Mercenaries 2 in the next few months.