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Time to blow more stuff up! - Mercenaries 2:World in Flames 

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Back in 2005, game developers Pandemic and LucasArts released Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 systems. This game was one of the few that was able to take the sandbox game-play of the Grand Theft Auto series and put a fun and exciting spin on it. As in the first game, Mercenaries 2 is a third-person sandbox game with a few additions and improvements including an online co-op play mode, an upgraded physics game engine, the ability for characters to swim and a cool option to burn stuff in hopes of creating more chaos.

The game has three characters from the previous game to choose from including Chris Jacobs, Jennifer Mui and Mattias Nilsson. You get to choose what character to play and each has his or her own unique abilities to get the job done. The story places the player in pursuit of a drug lord named Solano who contracted the services of a mercenary (that's you) and then gives you the finger instead of paying you your hard-earned cash. With the overthrow of the Venezuela government, Solano takes the reins as a dictator, and thus takes control of the country's oil supply. As this chaos ensues, other factions arise against Solano and as a betrayed mercenary, you side with any of them to seek your revenge and maybe make some pocket change along the way. At its heart, Mercenaries 2 is a game about finding trouble and blowing stuff up.

Sure, having detailed characters with a plot that's bigger than any one player and including harsh realities of geopolitics that hold true in the real world, this game is really about causing chaos and having the weapons and vehicles to do so. The look of this game is what one should expect as far as environments and graphics. Never having been to Venezuela, I can only guess that this is as close as I will get to seeing it. The lush jungle and modern buildings are very well done. If you have a decent sound system then booms and explosions will set the tone and help keep you in the action.

As a sandbox game, Mercenaries 2 allows you to have almost complete interaction with your environment. Blow up buildings, trees, doghouses and whatever you want. You can steal almost any vehicle like tanks or helicopters, but you do have to jump through some hoops like completing certain objectives to get what you need. There are not a lot of these sequences, so watching them more than a few times can be tiresome. Even though this is an open-world game, you can't go anywhere you want. Like Grand Theft Auto, you have to unlock different parts as you play, so it does take some effort to move along.

Unlike the GTA games, Mercenaries 2 has a fun sense of humor that pokes fun at even itself and doesn't get too dark even with all the destruction going on around you.

If you liked the first Mercenaries game, then this will fix the things that were missing and keep the things that made the first game fun. The world in which you play is extremely large, twice the size or more of GTA IV. Overall, the game does have some issues. For example, some of the less-important character models look like Xbox or PS2 graphics, and there are a few noticeable glitches in the driving and such, but overall it's a solid game and at the very least will keep you busy blowing stuff up.

Mercenaries 2:World in Flames ★★★✩✩

Publisher- Pandemic Studios. Rated- T for Teen. Platforms- PC, PlayStation 2, 3 Xbox 360. Retail- $39.99-$59.99


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