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Monday, 29 September 2008

Mercenaries 2: World In Flames Demo : Impressions

Title: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Publisher: EA
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Demo Release Date: September 25th 2008 (EU)
Release Date of final game: August 31st 2008 (EU)
Size: 1.37 GB

Introduction: Pandemic's follow-up to the "destroy everything" PS2 sleeper hit finds three mercenaries now gallivanting around Venezuela, up to no good and looking to get paid. The demo arrives nearly a full month after the game's release and presents the player with the chance to shoot, drive and annihilate their way around a level with the (almost secondary to the whole obliteration theme) objective of planting a listening post on top of a car-park. Or something to that effect - though we accomplished the mission at hand we were too busy blowing things up and, as you'll see below, being somewhat underwhelmed in the process.

Initial impressions: Ah, the infamous "post-release of actual game" demo. Also known as maintaining the current swell of interest in a well performing game or flogging a dead horse - depending on your sales figures. In Mercenaries 2's case it's obviously the former with the game topping the charts in most European countries. However, if you've been waiting for this demo to sway your hand in terms of whether or not it warrants a purchase, we feel it may have the opposite of its desired effect and that proverbial ransom money will be staying safely in your pocket.

First up is the demo's size. At just shy of 1.4GB - it's a monster, and though it really shouldn't matter how big a demo is in terms of 1s and 0s, it does beg the question of what exactly you have just dropped on your unwary hard-drive. Looking at the mediocre graphics, the postage-stamp size sandbox available to play in and the conspicuous fifteen minute timer on the top right of your screen you'd be forgiven to think you've just downloaded the entire game; albeit constrained by a countdown we reckon you'll never see expire.

Though there are some kicks to be had waging destruction on everything in sight, the demo doesn't really promote the game well in any of its main selling points. The destruction, though fun, is samey and the environment isn't half as combustable as it should be. The AI borders on ridiculous with the ability to walk up to adversaries, shoot them in the face and barely register a response. The level itself is barely populated by any enemies in the first place. You'll need to hunt them down where you'll find them docile, incompetent and eager to expire. They'll also rarely follow you anywhere (even if you destroy their compound, their vehicles and even their mates) so you've pretty much free reign to saunter around the place exploding things at your pleasure. You may have to dodge the odd tank shell but it's not exactly challenging in terms of gameplay.

The main gripe however is the overall presentation of the demo with the presence of the aforementioned timer. Such a mechanism can only promote one thing: a feeling of rushing around trying to see as much as you can before time runs out and this is exactly what you get. You can start again of course (and go kamikaze) but it rarely satisfies.

Who's Going To Like This - If you enjoyed the first game you'll probably enjoy the (moderate) upgrade in graphics and anarchical mayhem in this demo. Or if you like Swedish guys with tattoos, woah baby, this is a must.

Interest Radar: With a meta-review score of the final product in the mid-70s it's quite apparent that Mercenaries 2 is an accomplished, if not flawed, game but if you're currently on the fence this demo will do little to sway you to the purchasing side. With its immense size and limited playability we'd recommend skipping this one and just pick up the actual game if wanton destruction and mission-based objectives are your bag.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flame demo gets five briefcases stuffed with cash out of ten. You'll get paid but it won't compensate you for the fact that you had to sport a blonde mohawk to do so.

Remember: demo impressions are based on the demo and not on the game. Great games have been known to have lousy demos, with the opposite also holding true.

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