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Mercenaries Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 @ 09:30:10 pm E.S.T

This fall, LucasArts and Pandemic Studios (Full Spectrum Warrior, Star Wars Battlefront) are going to unleash something explosive to the gaming industry. I don't mean to say that it'll be revolutionary, or even innovative, because Mercenaries—Pandemic’s third-person, open-ended brainchild—isn't either of these things. Upon closer investigation, it really looks to be pretty similar to ground-breaking GTA3. But this doesn’t matter one bit to me; Mercenaries’ stunning graphics, huge array of weapons and vehicles, fifty-two (count ‘em!) bosses, and totally nonlinear play is on course to do one thing: blow stuff up. And by God, stuff is gonna blow up good.

Mercenaries’ story will set up all the destruction perfectly. North Korea and South Korea, for the first time in years, plan to join together as one country. Unfortunately, a North Korean coup throws a monkey wrench in the countries’ plan and marches a warpath through the streets of North Korea. Anarchy ensues. Eventually, the coup overpowers the county’s government and threatens the entire world with nuclear weapons. A global task force, including you, is released into North Korea with one mission in mind: overtake the coup leaders and make North Korea a peaceful country once more.

Players will be blowin’ stuff up (for the sake of peace, mind you) with one of three characters: Chris Jacobs, a tough-guy ex-soldier from the U.S.; stealthy British tactician Jennifer Mui; and Swedish sniper Matthias Nilsson. Even though characters have their own specialties, they’ll all be doing the same thing – killing people (or at least capturing them) for money. All three characters will utilize the basic third-person actions, like jumping, running and shooting, and will be able to tote two primary weapons and an explosive (like grenades or C4) at one time.

In a very GTA3-ish move, Mercenaries will be allowing players to tackle this problem in any fashion they like. It’s possible for players to affront bosses (who are identified through a fifty-two card deck, spades holding the main boss and other suites serving as warm-ups) in their numbered order, taking each one down professionally and with the utmost discipline. It’s also possible for players to never fight a boss at all, though they won’t beat the game this way.

Mercenaries will be dealing out a whopping fifty-two nonlinear missions; each will consist in part or whole of subduing the corresponding fifty-two coup leaders. To add a touch of realism, many of the game’s objectives will be based on situations occurring presently in the world – hostage rescues, destruction of supply camps and enemy buildings, other things of the like. Even the game’s central theme of nuclear war has been a hot subject as of late. Each mission you complete will be summed up in a brief newscast which highlights mission objectives and shows actual footage of your accomplishments. And of course, linearity will never be a problem in Mercenaries; players partake in missions when they want and how they want. Look out, GTA.

You won’t be alone on any of your missions, though – Chinese, Russian and South Korean factions will all give you a helping hand throughout the game. Working like the various gangs in GTA2 (surprisingly), these factions will lend you firepower and vehicles, give you extra men, and generally help you clear a path through the game’s missions. But just like in GTA2, you’ll have to prove your allegiance to each faction by cooperating with them and refusing to fraternize—or at least appear to—with other factions. One of the game’s challenges is to get in good with all three factions, and whether or not they think you’re reliable can determine whether faction NPCs hand you extra ammo or shoot you on sight.

Ah, but where would a mercenary be without his weapons? Unemployed, of course. Luckily, Pandemic has made it clear that players will never have to deal with a lack of firepower. Mercenaries will be featuring over thirty different weapons, ranging from pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, grenades, C4 explosives, sniper rifles and many more. In addition, a whale-sized garage of vehicles, including tanks, jeeps and helicopters will be exploding on the scene in Mercenaries. If players still aren’t satisfied with all this, they can always spend their hard-earned money (gained from capturing and killing coup bosses) calling in bunker-busting air strikes and even more vehicles.

Though the game will only feature two maps, each will be giant; corner to corner, both will take over fifteen minutes to fully traverse. In addition, environments will be fully interactive and persistent. In layman’s terms, environments will take damage and retain it, no matter if you leave the area or not. Levels are so big, in fact, that Pandemic has incorporated a custom weather system that randomly produces different weather effects (rain, shine, wind) in the game’s different locales, much akin to what Codemasters is doing with their upcoming Dragon Empires. All this is thanks in no small part to Pandemic’s all-new graphics engine, which creates terrific particle effects and textures—even on the PS2—and allows for some revolutionary draw distance. To top it all off, the game’s Havok physics engine is going to make things blow up better than ever.

True, Pandemic Studios’ Mercenaries probably won’t be too original. But let’s look past that. Let’s look at the good stuff: the explosions, the guns, the giant environments, the big-ass tanks and helicopters. And really, isn’t that what we all want out of a video game? Be expecting Mercenaries this fall on the PS2 and Xbox.

Preview By: Stealth52 - 3022 Reads

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