Friday, February 23, 2007

Very Mercenary

The worst-kept secret in the games industry is finally announced - Mercenaries 2 is multi-format.

I have mixed feelings about this sequel, on the one hand, I really like sandbox type games (no, really - I enjoyed Godfather enough that I keep looking out for a cheap 360 copy). On the other hand, I thought Mercenaries was a terrible execution of a good idea.

The vehicles felt too floaty (especially in collisions, they seemed to flop about in a very strange way); I always felt it was trying to restrict my use of big explosives (the game's killer usp) by making the really cool ones so expensive that you didn't want to waste them on a target that would just respawn again when you re-entered the area; it had an annoying habit of spawning enemy tanks behind me while I was on foot, and then made them shoot any vehicle I tried to jack the exact second I started the (admittedly ace) jacking animation with scant regard for their fellow soldiers; and the world felt completely lifeless and dull with the only scene-setting set-piece battles spawning in exactly the same places over and over again.

I played through the first two suits of cards, then gave up. And writing that reminded me that I didn't like the structure either - having the targets and their entourages only spawn once you'd activated them felt very artificial. Will this next-gen sequel take a page out of Crackdown's book, making all of the target enemies exist from the start and relying on the player character's abilities and equipment to restrict access?

I'll be very interested to see how it turns out.

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