Mercenaries 2: Huge Preview with Pandemic
Join us for a detailed look at open-world destruction-gasm Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, as we chat with Pandemic Studios' Jonathan Zamkoff and Cory Lewis.
By recent estimates the population of Venezuela now stands at a little over 26 million. With new console game, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Pandemic Studios has managed to piss off just about every single resident.
The South American nation, which is lorded over by populist Hugo Chavez, is endowed with a rich supply of oil, and it's this crucial commodity that serves as the mechanical heart of Mercenaries. Fuel is essential to your passage through the game, serving as a currency that will make it that much easier for you to rain down destruction on Venezuela's cityscapes and countryside.
"It's the ultimate blowing-shit-up game," Jonathan Zamkoff, senior producer at Pandemic Studios, tells us during a demonstration of the game. Five minutes with it is all you need to see the truth in that statement.
From the start, Mercenaries utter destruction served as the bolded focal point in its design document. Most players who come into a new game world are disappointed when their malevolent experiments are responded to by invisible walls and unmovable structures that defy any attempt to undo them. Not so for Mercenaries.
"If we can't get an asset to destroy nicely we won't put it in the game," Zamkoff says. He looks around and taunts us: "Challenge me to destroy something and I would be happy to do so."
For players, the spectacle provided by a game that can fully come apart is an exciting prospect, but bringing Mercenaries to life has been tough going for the development team. The beautiful destruction at the player's fingertips is strictly under the command of the laws of physics, something Zamkoff says was "probably the most challenging part of our development".
From a gameplay perspective, just as important as providing the tools for destruction is making sure that players have access to them at the right time - a tip many games with similar ambitions seem to have missed. Pandemic is taking the approach of showing players right from the start how much fury there is to be unleashed through freebie airstrikes that later will need to be earned.
There's a fine balance to the timing of the introduction of new skills and gear, says Zamkoff. The team didn't want players to get everything right away. "On the other hand," he says, "we don't want to take away one of the most enjoyable things of the game."