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One of the biggest new releases in the world of video games right now is Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, so let’s not forget about the original Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction game that inspired the current hit sequel. It was developed by Lucasarts and released on both the PS2 and Xbox. I played the Xbox version, but the two versions are nearly identical.
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This game takes place in North Korea, and you play a mercenary who works for the various factions who control the different territories on the map. Your ultimate goal in the game is to capture a group of 52 criminals who are portrayed on a deck of cards. As you work your way up the value of the cards, you’ll get information leading you to the more valuable targets. Along the way, you’ll have a bunch of side missions to perform for the factions, but you have to pick your loyalties because some groups don’t like people who work for others.
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Mercenaries has drawn a lot of comparisons to the Grand Theft Auto series, and rightfully so. This is like a military version of GTA where you fight against other soldiers and mercenaries, as opposed to cops and gang members. Lucasarts designed the game to take place on a wide open map, so you can explore all over the place. This kind of freedom is what makes this game so much fun, but you should know it can be very difficult at times. There are some areas you don’t want to wander into until you are ready.
There is a lot you can do in this game. You can set out on foot or commandeer a vehicle. You can even fly helicopters around, if you like. As you earn money for completing missions and capturing bad guys, you can buy more equipment and guns, plus call in air strikes and the like. It’s fun to get creative with planting C-4 explosives, because you can take down buildings with them. One thing I like to do is plant C-4 on a Jeep, then race towards a building and jump out at the last moment while I detonate the charge as soon as the Jeep hits the building. It’s a great way to take out rooftop snipers.
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Graphics and Sound
You control the mercenary on screen from a third person perspective, so you’ll always have a pretty good view of what’s happening around you. The graphics in this game are very good on the Xbox, and you’ll see plenty of huge explosions and lots of different vehicles and buildings. I have noticed a few little graphic anomalies, but nothing that really hindered the gameplay. I liked how the outdoor environment actually looked realistic, from the geography to the architecture. The sound in this game is equally impressive, and a cast of Hollywood actors provide some of the character voices. This is one game that’s fun to play with the surround sound cranked up because there is so much action.
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Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction is a very fun game, but can also be quite difficult because it’s not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by enemy soldiers. It offers a lot to do, a fun environment, and will provide many hours of gameplay for you to complete the missions.