I grew up hearing the phrase, “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.” all too often. But there’s no way I’m biting my tongue this time. The entire time I spent playing Mercenaries 2, I was trying to overlook the bugs and flaws in hopes that the core game would shine through. But even that leaves a lot to be desired since the main components are lacking severely on about every level. Mercenaries 2 is a front-runner for being the most disappointing game of the year.
What the Hell Happened?
Pandemic Studios aren’t exactly new to the game. With solid games like the Star Wars Battlefront and Destroy All Humans series under their belt, not to mention the original Mercenaries game, I had come to expect great things from them. It goes without saying, that my opinion has changed. But you have to wonder, what the hell happened here? The game was delayed about a year from its original release date, and you’d think in that time they would have been able to squash the remaining bugs and put a coat of polish on it. Maybe it was publisher pressure and EA was breathing down their necks? Perhaps they blew their budget making the explosions look awesome? Whatever the case, Mercenaries 2 feels unfinished and broken. And as such, I’m not going to get into the story or mission objectives, instead I’m going to tell you why you should avoid this game like the plague.
Shut Up Already!
You want to talk about annoying? During my first sit down with the game, I noticed how frequently phrases were being repeated by enemies and friendlies alike. Most notably, your director in the field Fiona, has an awful habit of reciting the same line every 5 minutes or so. Even while in the middle of a mission or while carrying an HVT on your back, she’ll remind you that you can always go back and talk to her if you get lost or stuck on what to do next. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll come back and talk to you… and shove a grenade done your throat!” And of course, there’s no option to disable dialog in the field, only in cut-scenes. This is by no means a show stopper, but it definitely takes the overall enjoyment down a notch or two..
Ummm, You Missed!
I was stoked when I had the drunken pilot join my team. That meant I could do air strikes and rain down hell on my enemies. Problem is, he misses the damn target more than he hits it! I wan’t joking when I said he was drunk – he’s literally a washed up drunk. And I guess the devs thought it would be funny to have him miss the targets you’ve pointed out for him. Sure, the concept of a jet pilot dropping a bomb on the wrong building because he’s loaded is pretty funny. But when he misses three laser guided drops in a row, causing you to have to replay the mission… well, that’s not so funny.
They’re With Stupid
The AI in Mercenaries 2 is unbearably bad. Enemies rush you as soon as you’re within range, putting themselves directly in your line of fire, only to take a dozen bullets before finally going down. You might have noticed that I didn’t say visual range in that last sentence – that was intentional. They may be dumb as rocks, but they can see through walls! At one point, I was in a garage and the door had just shut behind me. There were no windows at all, yet I heard a passer-by exclaim, “Hey, it’s the mercenary!”
During one mission, I was taking my time making my way behind enemy lines when a baddie triggered an alarm. When this happens, previously unoccupied buildings spring to life, packed to the tits with dudes wielding rocket launchers. At first they seemed very intimating and I would keep my distance. Then I realized that they would fire no matter how close you were. So if I found myself in this situation with plenty of health, I would run up to a corner of the building and wait… BOOM! In a matter of seconds, the entire building would be destroyed, as it seems the dummies inside were trying to shoot me through the wall and in turn, blew themselves up. This sort of thing happens a lot when you try and commandeer vehicles, particularly tanks. They’ll fire at you, no matter how close you are, and in most cases, destroy themselves.
Glitches and Bugs Galore
I’d be here all day if I were to list all of the bugs I witnessed in the 7 hours I spent with Mercenaries 2. But I’d like to share my favourite that I happened four or five times. Which doesn’t make them bugs, so much as flaws.
As you may know, Mercenaries is unique in that you balance your relationship with different factions. Each faction has you taking over another faction’s outposts, capturing key personnel, and the like. So the balance is always shifting and you’re always in someone’s shit books. When you’re in good graces with a faction, you can make use of their vehicles and recruit allied soldiers to give you some added fire power. While on route to an enemy outpost, I stopped at a checkpoint and grabbed a friendly APC and honked the horn to signal near-by soldiers to hop in. Three did so, but as soon as I crossed the barrier at the checkpoint, they jumped out and started firing at me. I guess they were fine with me jacking their ride, as long as I didn’t cross that imaginary line. This didn’t happen every time I took a friendly vehicle, just some times. But in every case, I was above 90% friendly with the faction.
Another bug that happens to be a huge annoyance as well, is the on-screen hint system. No matter how many times you do something, it always pops up a hint for every step of the way. And if you perform the action too fast, the hint will stick on that step until you completed the action. In some cases, this might happen while you’re getting into a vehicle and the hint won’t go away until you exit.
Mercenaries 2 sports online 2-player co-op. I’ve only seen a couple friends playing in the short time I’ve owned the game, but never when I was playing. So I wasn’t able to match up and grab the easy 50 point Achievement simply for playing co-op. But last night when I reached my breaking point, I figured I would join a quick game, grab that Achievement, then take the game out of my 360 for good. When I selected Quick Match from the multiplayer menu, it made the cha-ching sound it does when you advance screens, but nothing happened. I pressed “A” again… cha-ching. WTF? It simply wouldn’t work. So I jumped into the Custom Game options, which loaded right away. I left everything set to “Any” and hit the search button… nothing. Not even a sound this time. I tried restarting my console, but it didn’t make a lick of difference. This game is broken.
Don’t Do It! It’s Not Worth It
When I started to become overwhelmed by the bugs and general sloppiness of the game (which was about an hour in), I tried to look on the bright side – blowing shit up is fun, and the Achievements are plentiful. But when blowing shit up became tedious and frustrating, and I was prevented from earning Achievements due to the game being broken, it became apparent that there really is no point to spending any more time with Mercenaries 2. The bugs and flaws out-weigh the good by far, and seeing the potential this game holds just makes it all the more frustrating that it’s as bad as it is.