Mercenaries 2: World in Flames


Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 14

SoulCalibur IV, Mercs 2, Kung Fu Panda, Beijing, GH Aerosmith, FaceBreaker, Hulk, EA Sports roundup.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Cameron Brown on the delay, GTA, and explosions.

Key events

Free Mercs 2 DLC on Live today

Blow It Up Again offers new modes.

Pandemic has released a free content update for Mercenaries 2 today, featuring four new gameplay modes - "Urban Rampage, Death Race, Arms Race and Mercs Blitz", according to an admin post on the official forum - and some "patriotic characters".

Xbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 14

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs PS3 Face-Off: Round 14

SoulCalibur IV, Mercs 2, Kung Fu Panda, Beijing, GH Aerosmith, FaceBreaker, Hulk, EA Sports roundup.

No introduction is necessary for our latest console comparison feature; you all know the deal by now. Top notch 24-bit RGB screenshots? Check. HD-derived streaming video with crystal clear h.264 quality? Check. Flame-retardant clothing capable of withstanding the Human Torch's nova-blast? Double-check.

Just a couple of notes before the rows and bitter recriminations commence. Beginning with this latest feature, we're now embedding larger videos. There are also extended versions with even higher resolution available as clickthroughs via Eurogamer TV. Make sure you hit the 'high quality' button to get the full benefits of h.264 encoding. If the cropped, slow motion videos are not good enough for you, full 720p 60FPS downloads optimised for playback on both 360 and PS3 are available on the author's blog.

For more in-depth, studied comparisons, don't forget the exhaustive screenshot galleries that accompany each game. Thanks to Eurogamer screenshot viewer 2.0, you can switch the view between both versions of each game at the touch of a button. All games get 720p shots, with 1080p galleries added where support is available in the PS3 code.

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UK charts: EA trio still riding high

TNA makes little impact. Full top 40 inside.

EA games Mercenaries 2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 and Spore have held on at one, two and three respectively this week in the UK all-formats chart.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

After the occasionally inspirational chaos of the chart-topping Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the least anyone would reasonably expect is a more polished and entertaining sequel. Bafflingly, three and a half years on, Mercenaries 2 comes up short. Just like the original, it desperately struggles to get going, and the first few pre-sandbox missions are the worst possible introduction to what the game has to offer. But it's not just that, because - as we discovered at the preview stage - the game is irreparably hamstrung on a fundamental level.

We'd now go a little further than that: apart from some cool explosive effects and solid controls, Mercenaries 2 is utterly mediocre in almost every sense that matters. From the initial sorties onwards it's bogged down by the worst kind of brain-dead cannon fodder enemies, lead-you-by-the-hand level design, arbitrary boundaries, and some technical howlers. It lacks challenge, excitement, personality and any real verve whatsoever. Just thinking back on time spent negotiating the stupider bits of Mercenaries 2 is enough to cloud our sunny disposition.

Exactly two years in the future, the game kicks off with a playable vignette where you end up double-crossed by the hateful Ramone Solano, a man curiously obsessed with straightening his tie. Turns out it's yet another cod drama where everyone's chasing the world's rapidly depleting oil reserves, from grubby corporations to local resistance forces, except this time in Venezuela. You sit on the outskirts of all this squabbling, but with your own morally bankrupt agenda: to build a private military enterprise up, do everyone else's dirty work for big sacks of cash, and chase down the sickeningly slick Solano. As gung-ho narratives go, it's by no means the worst, but you'll very quickly cease to care about who you're mercilessly slaughtering and why. Blow stuff up. Blow it up some more. And then again to make sure.

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Riccitiello: EA quality up "sharply"

"We've turned the corner on that issue."

John Riccitiello believes the fruits of his reappointment as EA boss are beginning to show and has noted a "sharp" rise in the quality of the publisher's games.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Fumble in the jungle.

Although it gave good Korea and featured a muted pallette of CNN greys, deep down, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction contained all the geopolitical seriousness you could find in a game of knockdown ginger. And rightly so. A brutal - if basic - ball pond filled with loud things to drive and big things to drive them into, Pandemic's noisome openworld private military disco always knew exactly what it wanted to be: dumb and fun in equal proportion. It's a shame, then, that time moves on - a quick session with the forthcoming sequel, World in Flames, suggests that Mercenaries may struggle to find a place for itself in a post-Crackdown world. It's not that the franchise has an out-of-date agenda, it's just that there are other people around now who have shown how to be a bit cleverer when it comes to the serious business of being stupid.

Mercs 2 dev admits "huge debt" to GTA

But sees Rockstar as "friendly competitors".

Pandemic Studios has acknowledged that openworld action game Mercenaries 2 owes "a huge debt to GTA", but doesn't believe that players have to buy one and not the other.

Mercenaries 2 demo, DLC planned

DLC is already "up and running".

Pandemic Studios plans to release a Mercenaries 2 demo and will also support the openworld action game with downloadable content.

Mercs 2 PS2 is "true sequel to Mercs 1"

Mercs 2 PS2 is "true sequel to Mercs 1"

In case you were wondering.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is likely to catch (and set fire to) your attention on PS3, 360 and PC primarily. However, a PS2 version is in development and is described by Pandemic as "actually a true sequel to Mercs 1 developed by a dedicated team".

Following our Mercenaries 2 interview the other day, creative director Cameron Brown explained that the game has been "specifically designed for the PS2 and the limitations of the platform, so it doesn't have co-op, for example, and is a little more designed around the hardware".

"The two games are loosely connected; they have the same story, the same characters, we shared assets. But they filled out an entirely separate game world and reinterpreted a lot of the mission designs," he said.

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Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Cameron Brown on the delay, GTA, and explosions.

Last July when we went hands-on with Mercenaries 2, the future looked bright for the World in Flames. After that it all went a bit quiet. For ages. Then in January this year, EA came clean about the hold-up, before everyone's favourite silver-haired boardroom fox John Riccitiello confirmed a goal of fiscal 2009. Earlier this month, Mercenaries 2 was given a firm 5th September date on PS3, 360, PC and PS2, meaning that it would be out four months after you-know-what - potentially a deal-breaker for an openworld action game. With all this in mind, we got Pandemic's creative director Cameron Brown on the phone to find out what's been keeping Mercenaries 2, how terrifying it is to go up against Grand Theft Auto IV, and why we should all draw circles around 5th September on our calendars and radio in a holiday.

"World in Flames" may be a typically silly videogame subtitle, but with this one they're not joking. We've had sandbox action games that move beyond GTA's largely indestructible playground before - Crackdown gave us wings and let us toss cars around, for instance - but Mercenaries 2 escalates things to a degree that the PS3's vaunted SPUs and 360's multiple processors have been crying out for. "Every asset is fully interactive," says producer Jonathan Zamkoff as he flies a chopper over a bay. "It's either destructible, scalable or buyable. We do not put it in the game if you can't interact with it." Demonstrating this, he launches missiles into a 200m concrete bridge, taking out a central section that tumbles into the water, giving a few unlucky motorists a permanent bath. "There's no mission-specific reason for me to do this," he says, as a sort of explanation. Good then.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Blow more stuff up.

If you played the original Mercenaries, you might recall it was a "brilliantly enjoyable all-action extravaganza of blockbuster proportions" where you got to "blow stuff up", "blow the living hell out of it" and "blow the living hell out of it some more". Developer Pandemic wasn't exactly shying away from appealing to gamers' basest instincts when it made one of 2005's more entertaining sandbox games, and the prospect of visiting another playground of destruction is certainly a tempting one.

Mercenaries 2 on four platforms

PS3, Xbox 360, PC and PS2.

Speculation over which platforms Mercenaries 2 will appear on has finally ground to halt, as EA has announced the game will be coming to Xbox 360, PC, PS3 and PS2 in the Christmas period this year.

Mercenaries 2 Q&A

We pin down Pandemic to talk about the move to EA.

Following on from last week's announcement that Electronic Arts will publish Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, we tracked down Pandemic Studios president Josh Resnick for a quick chat about the move, and how the game will improve on its critically acclaimed predecessor.

EA signs Mercenaries 2

On PS3 later this year.

Electronic Arts has signed on to publish Pandemic's upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames worldwide.

Pandemic's next-gen sequel to Mercenaries could appear on Xbox 360 as well as PlayStation 3, the developer's revealed.

Venezuelan politicians slam Mercenaries 2

They reckon it's propaganda.

Mercenaries 2, the new next-gen title from Pandemic Studios, has been labelled as an example of psychological warfare by supporters of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, who fear it signifies the first step towards a real life invasion.

Mercenaries 2 confirmed

Mercenaries 2 confirmed

For next-gen.

Pandemic's confirmed speculation that it's working on a sequel to Mercenaries.

Called Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, it's due to be shown off at E3 in detail. For now, all we really know is that it's set in a different location to the first, PS2 and Xbox title, which saw the player violently picking sides in a struggle for bits of Korea.

"While the original Mercenaries' high-octane, go anywhere, do anything and blow the crap out of everything style was a hit with gamers, the whole experience was screaming to run on next-generation game systems," said Pandemic CEO Andrew Goldman.

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