Mercenaries 2: World in Flames isn't the most original game in the world, but it's a lot of fun.
When there's dirty work to be done and you're looking for a hired gun, looks and originality don't matter much - all that matters is whether they can get the job done. You can approach Mercenaries 2: World in Flames in the same way, letting it do its thing instead of obsessing about its shortcomings. Sure, it isn't exactly pretty and it doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does pack a nice satisfying punch.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames goes like this: after completing a job for an Venezuelan oil tycoon with illusions of political grandeur you're predictably betrayed and shot in the butt as you flee the scene; worst of all, the jerk stiffs you on your bill. You refuse to take the situation sitting down - well, you actually can't sit down at all - and decide to go after the wanna-be dictator. As one of three characters-the heavy metal Mattias, the buff Chris, or the slinky Jennifer-you wander the streets and jungles of Venezuela to slowly undo your rival's nefarious plan.
As in the first Mecenary title, in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames various factions pop up and offer you contracts; complete them and you can shake up the balance of power while also lining your pockets. That's not to mention the fact that blowing up buildings and shooting at bad guys is its own reward, especially because the paper-thin story isn't that great. Cinematically speaking, it's more Bruckheimer than Scorcese, meaning it leans on big explosions and flashy set pieces rather than a well developed plot and characters.
And yet, much like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is entertaining in an over-the-top action but suffers from some faults that keep it from being more than just another mindless shoot-em-up. Not only is the story shallow, but the main campaign missions, which almost always involves knocking someone off, saving a hostage, or obliterating a building, aren't as compelling as they could be. The optional side missions, however, are great thanks to their unscripted nature-you never know exactly how things will turn out and that makes for exciting gameplay-and it's disappointing that this sort of unpredictability didn't extend to the core missions.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames's focus on action does lead to some intense moments but the rest of the game doesn't instill the same sense of excitement. The gameplay is there but fundamental aspects like the presentation and graphics are fairly mediocre, which cuts into the fun. Still, while it isn't the prettiest game or the most original, it does get the job done when it comes to delivering some cheap thrills.
Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Games website to download hundreds of the latest titles, to read gaming news and reviews and to pick up tips and discuss your favourite games in the popular PC Advisor Games forum