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Review by: Jeff Burke
Published: Jan 10, 2005
Left up to game developers, the future looks quite grim. Maybe it is just a reflection of the classic “Man versus” struggle or the public’s desire to see the grit and grim of modern warfare. With so much of it in the news nowadays, it only makes sense for development houses to capitalize on it. Granted, there have been other “near future” shooters in the past, for example: any number of games under the Tom Clancy franchise, but Mercenaries truly manages to come across with something new and unique.
Unique to the genre maybe, but unique to gaming in general I would have to say no. This style of third person action shooter was seen most recently in Grand Theft Auto. The group at Pandemic Studios has taken away from GTA that feeling of non-linear gameplay, an arsenal of weapons including those meant to entertain, the ability to pick and choose your method of transportation, and of course the most important – the mayhem that has become Mercenaries’ signature.
Just as in GTA or another recent non-linear gameplay toting title, Fable, the game isn’t as free from a Matrix-esque choice as one might assume: Mercenaries is only as non-linear as you make it. The choice to run around for hours on end looking for fights, doing extra side quests, building faction with any of the sides is yours, with the other option being to skip all that and go straight for the bosses. Upon choosing your character, each with unique strengths, you receive your first quest and learn the plot of the game. Taken directly from the game — On the eve of an historic reunification of North and South Korea, a ruthless general stages a military coup, takes control of North Korea and then threatens the world with nuclear war. In response, the international community launches a global task force to stabilize the country. However, when diplomatic efforts collapse and the region descends into anarchy, they place a one hundred million dollar reward on the head of the North Korean general and on his top military and scientific advisors. The targets are identified in a “most wanted” list in the form of a deck of 52 playing cards. As one of the top operatives for a private military company called Executive Operations, you have been hired to hunt down the 52 targets.
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