21 Aug 2009

Mercenaries (X-Box)

Plot Synopsis:

The player is in control of a highly trained mercenary, dropped into North Korea after the Military (under the command of General Choi Song) staged a military coup and deposed the democracy-sympathetic President Choi Kim. It is discovered (by the Australians no less) that General Song is building up his country's nuclear stockpile and the Allied Nations (UN rip-off anyone?) march into the country. They are swiftly followed by the Chinese, the South Koreans and the Russian Mafia.

As the Mercenary, the player must travel round the province doing missions for each action in order to gain enough intelligence to go after the 'Most Wanted' personnel from North Korea's military, business administration and chemical development sectors. Shown as a deck of cards, each suit is its own group of personnel and after you capture the Ace of hearts, clubs and diamonds, you get to go after General Song himself, the Ace of spades.

Each mission, number card, and various other tidbits, give you money which can be spent buying supplies, air strikes or vehicles off the Russian Mafia's black market.


When I first heard of Mercenaries, that is, that it was a free roaming third person shooter, I initially thought 'meh'. But after playing it I must say I enjoyed it. Lets go through the good points first shall we?

Point #1: The difficulty One of the best things about Mercenaries is the good learning curve and the general difficulty. Although the seasoned gamer will not find it to be a greatly challenging game, several of the later contracts do involve a bit of thinking (if not a great amount).

Point #2: The Graphics As it was made in 2005, the graphics are not what you would call amazing, but unlike the majority of next gen games, they haven't spent all their time making it look pretty and missed out on storyline, or gameplay. The graphics are good, but not excessively so. Simple and effective is the best way to describe them.

Point #3: The Gameplay You run around shooting Koreans with an M4 and an RPG What could go wrong? OK fine, proper review Quotemaster, proper review!
The gameplay is that of a generic third person shooter. Run, shoot, try not to get shot. But the addition of the air strikes adding a more destructive edge to the normal style. Running up a mountain in order to call in a carpet bomb on an unsuspecting group of North Korean jeeps is nothing short of hilarious. and things like fuel air bomb or surgical strikes which flatten buildings in a matter of seconds are just as much fun as letting a horde of baboons lose in your bosses office and locking the door. While he is still in there.

Point #4: The Controls The controls for running, shooting etc are all well and good but the main reason this is a plus is because of the helicopter controls. Several games involve helicopter piloting as a perk yet they make ti so that if you push the analog stick too far forward you plummet to the ground like a plane made of bricks. In Mercenaries push the stick as far as you want forward and you just go... forward. This is a minor detail but it makes helicopter piloting that much better that they don't expect us all to have pilots licenses to be able to fly the bloody thing.

and the bad points?

Point #1: The AI The only commands you can give to your dip shit allies is... nothing. not a thing. If they are integral to a mission you can tell them to stay or follow, and if they aren't you can beep the horn of the vehicle you are in in order to tell them to get in. I once spent quite a while beeping my fucking horn at a single WMD inspector yet he refused to get in the fucking APC. he would run to the back then run way like a woman. Eventually I just shot him and redid the mission. Fucking Allies.
On the other hand, if you get them in the vehicle they are quite useful at shooting at enemies while you drive (No other way to do it, they won't drive you. Aiming at pretty much anyone and everyone who could possibly pose a threat to you, even the other factions if they dislike you enough. Which is kinda funny.

Point #2: The difficulty Yes this is in both categories. While everything I said before stands, the only premise that is too easy is the subduing of the bounty contracts. You just run over to whomever you are collecting, hit them and tap Y. there you go all subdued. Then its just a case of finding a flat spot to call in the AN helicopter to take him out. But then again killing him is even easier, you just shoot him and then go up to the corpse and take a picture. Job done.

To be honest I can't think of anything else past those two points that is big enough to be singled out. There are tiny glitches where sometimes a tracked vehicle will act like its hit something even though it hasn't, (Sent me off a bridge a couple of times that one) and I have been known to round a corner and find a number card already dead. Kinda defeats the point in hunting them down if they are already dead.

All in all, Mercenaries is a good game, its not spectacular but it deserved to be included on the Top 50 games of 2005 by Game Informer. It has its glitches but they are few and far between the fun you get from levelling the Chinese HQ with their own Artillery bombardment.

I give it 78%