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Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (PlayStation 2) artwork

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (PlayStation 2) review

"Though at first glance Mercenaries "Playground of Destruction” seems like a GTA clone but in fact it is not. Mercenaries is an original game and a VERY enjoyable game. "

Though at first glance Mercenaries "Playground of Destruction” seems like a GTA clone but in fact it is not. Mercenaries is an original game and a VERY enjoyable game.

The game takes place in a fictional North Korea where his own son General Song through a military coup has over thrown the President. Now North Korea is in a state of chaos with war and destruction all around. As a result of this war 4 sides are trying to take control of North Korea; The Chinese, Russian mafia, South Koreans and The Allied Forces. This is where you come in.

You play as a mercenary who works for the organization Executive Operations (ExOps). The game gives you the choice to choose your character from among 3 mercenaries. 2 of which are male mercenaries and 1 is female. While there is no huge difference in the way each character plays there is 1 or 2 unique advantage that each mercenary has that might influence your choice. Besides that each character has his or her own attitude which also might decide which mercenary you will choose to play as ExOps which accepts contracts from private as well as government interests. All the 4 factions have jobs for you to do from escorting personnel, destroying and blowing stuff to defending strategic locations, the stuff you would expect to do in a country torn by war. In return for your efforts the factions will give you cash and Intel on the location of one from the deck of 52.what is the deck of 52 you might ask. Well, the deck of 52 are the 52 allies and friends of General Song that you will have to capture in order to reach General Song himself. The 52 friends are divided into the 52 cards of a deck, 13 hearts, 13 clubs, 13 diamonds and 13 spades hence the name the deck of 52. You also get cash for capturing one from the deck of 52.if you capture him/her alive you get more and if you kill him/her you get half of the bounty offered.

North Korea is divided into 2 provinces: The Northern Province and The Southern Province. These 2 provinces are then divided into cities and faction HQs etc. You will play about 50% of the game in the Northern Province and 50% of the game in the Southern Province. And you will be able to move between the 2 provinces should you feel like doing so. Initially only one province is available to you but the 2nd province is unlocked once you start completing missions and capture Song's allies.

But you have to be careful about which mission you choose to do and which faction to be friends with because sometimes missions require you to harm other faction's interests or kill other faction's soldiers which results in that faction becoming hostile to you and a hostile faction doesn't offer contracts but that's not a problem because a faction can be bribed and made friends with.

The Merchant of Menace is the place where you will be spending your hard earned cash. It is a shop offered to you by the Russian mafia that you can access from your PDA and call in air strikes, vehicles and supplies. The merchant of menace is the part of this game that lets you be creative as to how you will go about completing your missions. If you like you can call in an air strike to destroy enemy bunkers or take a supply of anti air and anti tank launchers and wreak havoc on your enemies or have a tank delivered and you can destroy anything that moves. The choice is yours and fun.

You can also earn cash by blowing up any land or air vehicle that has the North Korean symbol on it. Besides that you can accept different side missions that are offered by different faction members at different places on the map. These include escorting a journalist, capturing a specific number of guards etc. Besides these missions you can also enter into specific civilian vehicle and play taxi missions or race against the time and try to reach a specific place within the given time period. All these missions are easy to identify because the vehicles and faction members all have the $ sign over their heads.

The vehicle aspect of the game is slightly similar to the GTA system in the sense that you can hijack any vehicle you see on the road including military and civilian vehicles. But if you don't want to hijack a vehicle then you can have a vehicle of your choice delivered to you. The list includes tanks, helicopters, jeeps and a sports car as well. The best being the helicopters as they are fast and can go anywhere. The road vehicles' handling is loose and not like handling of cars from GTA or Need for Speed games and that is not a bad because of two factors. One, this game doesn't try to be a Need For Speed game or any other racing game for that matter, where you would expect the handling to be some what real and two, the loose physics of the vehicles allow for some spectacular explosions which are one of the best part of Mercenaries.

The game isn't linear as the game gives you the choice of choosing which contract to accept and also which number card (a member of the deck of 52 is referred to as a number card in the game) to go after. Also you don't need to capture all of the 13 number cards of a specific deck, that's because you have to collect a certain level of Intel and you can collect that level of Intel by capturing any of the 12 number cards, 12 because the Ace of every deck must be captured. But you can't choose from which deck to start from as the 4 decks are arranged in a fixed order thus you will only be able to capture General Song towards the end of the game and not before.

The graphics of this game are pretty decent. While the vehicle models all look great they aren't specifically modeled after any real world military vehicle. Besides that all the characters look decent and move with fluidity. The voice acting though done nicely the mark isn't synchronized with lip movement but this is a small flaw in what is no doubt an excellent looking game.

The music and sound effects of the game are great as well. The music suits the atmosphere perfectly. It's dark, grim and subtle just like a war torn country is. All the weapons sound authentic and pack a nice punch. The guns, rocket launchers and grenades all sound nice and the explosions are AWESOME. The sounds of the vehicles are also done nice though you won't be able to distinguish the sounds of one chopper from another or one jeep from another.

All in all this is a great game that action gamers would love and 1st time action game players will find highly accessible and easy to play. So do yourself a favor and play this game.

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Community review by blood-omen (November 16, 2007)

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