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Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Exclusive insight from the explosion-packed shooter to rule them all...

It rules being your own boss. Taking as much darn time off as you please, scoring a sweet BMW on lease, hiring a busty peroxide blonde as your PA, putting your hand in the till... and ordering full scale air strikes to reduce your enemies to so ashes. Ker-blammo! Yep, welcome to the dazzling world of Mercenaries, the game where Everybody Pays. (Even you lot, should you choose to part with your hard-earned to buy it in May).

Thankfully, we're more than happy to go out on a limb and say that Mercenaries 2: World in Flames will be more than worth laying down some dirty moolah for. In our latest encounter with Pandemic's deliciously violent sandbox shooter, it's patently clear that Mercs 2 has come on more leaps and bounds than a giant, super long-legged mutant kangaroo since we last got our greasy paws on it last summer.


Back then, we'll admit holding back from voicing a few concerns that the action wasn't quite as polished as we'd have expected from a Grade A title (and the ubiquity of mercenaries in FPS' doesn't help), but that extra six months and a shedload of EA dosh have eased our minds. This is the real, explosive, deal.

Rather than spoil any missions, Pandemic have been keen to show off Mercs 2's 'freeplay' mode, which is non-contractual larking about to score bonus cash, equipment and resources. Laughs ensued as Matthias brazenly pinched a sleek powerboat from its moorings and powered across an ocean, accompanied by wave effects straight out of Wave Race. Mmmmn.

Hitting dry land, it was time to lay waste with an RPG to the Chinese faction's military installation, for the sheer hell of it. As we fired rockets and lobbed grenades at approaching enemy vehicles with childlike abandon, the carnage was unlike anything we've seen in a game before. Particle. Effect. Heaven. And, yep, before you ask - we have played God of War 2.

Sheets of flame roared up to the heavens, plumes of thick black smoke rolled out in a manner so realistic it almost set off a coughing fit. There are also some really cheeky tricks you can pull to wreak max pain, such as attaching some sticky C4 to the side of a vehicle, hopping in and then - masquerading as an enemy grunt - steer your four-wheeled bomb into an enemy installation before diving clear, de-pressing the trigger and grinning stupidly at the ensuing fireworks... Explosive stuff.

It was also cool to snag a quick glimpse at the Chinese faction HQ, a densely guarded megalith that we certainly didn't fancy taking on by our lonesome. Moving swiftly onwards, and commandeering a transport chopper, we soon noticed that Pandemic's tweaking didn't just extend to the eye candy. Instead, fancy real-world factors like yaw loss will mean you'll need a pretty steady hand to get the best out of your chopper - especially when a spot of winch-based, oil extracting action is involved.


Burning Love
See, given Matthias and co's lust for cold-hard cash, plus the sheer amount of driving, shooting, sailing and airstrike-calling the team undertake, fuel is a vital resource in Mercs 2. So, in the next mission, while not above calling in a napalm air strike to obliterate any resistance, we saw that it was also vital the storage tanks didn't become part of that collateral damage. After all, what use is fuel when it's completely on fire?

Beware though: most factions won't simply sit back and take what's coming to them, so it's advisable to set some nifty traps to slow their progress. In this case, a spot of C4 handily placed on a narrow strip of road created the mother of blammo situations, as the understandably enraged South-East Asian rear-guard tried to pin our (anti-)heroes down. And failed. We love it when a plan comes together.

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