"Wow... Ten gigabyte install" will be the first impression you get from Mercenaries 2 on the PC. It is however justified as Mercenaries 2 has improved vastly over its predecessor in the sense that it is bigger, badder, and more addictive than the previous installment. This time the Mercenaries have stopped off in Venezuela to do a quick job for one of the suits in the Venezuelan government – simple enough.
Mercenaries 2 begins with the player selecting one of the three characters available. The three characters are the same that were found in North Korea: Nilsson, the Swedish war monger; Chris Jacobs, the cigar smoking African American (who looks a lot like Robert Downey Jr. from Tropic Thunder); and Jen, the tough lady of the group. Each of the characters has their own unique ability. Nilsson can regenerate health faster, Jacobs can carry more ammunition, and Jen runs quicker. These are slight improvements but nothing dramatic; choosing a character also affects the dialog you receive during the game.
After a quick introduction to the antagonist Solano, a brief tutorial mission, and a bullet in the ass, your character decides he is going to seek revenge, and the money they are owed by Solano. At this point the player is set upon establishing a base of operations – a simple enough job which is the first step in your quest to get paid. Fiona from the previous Mercenaries game is also back on hand to help you track down Solano and get you contracts with the various factions in Venezuela.
The fastest way to quick cash in Mercenaries 2 is to complete contracts for the different factions. There are a total of five factions to choose from each with their own agendas, unique weapons, and vehicles. There is the People's Liberation Army of Venezuela (or P.L.A.V) who are most notable for their guerrilla tactics and hate for imperialists and capitalists. The Universal Petroleum Corporation (U.P) is a militarized company who basically bend the government until they start receiving oil. The Pirates consists of crazy Jamaican smugglers, black market dealers, and organizer crime. The Chinese come in later on in the game, and are one of the two superpowers in the country fighting for the sake that America has also landed in Venezuela. Likewise, the Allied Nations have returned to do what they do best - "Peacekeeping".
Completing contracts for the various factions opens up new toys for you to buy at the depots then store at your base for future use. Air strikes, cehicles, and weapon packs are also unlocked by taking over outposts for that faction. Capturing outposts not only benefits the player by expanding their arsenal but also by opening up helipads where players can "transit" to, providing they have a helicopter pilot recruited and they have enough fuel.
In the previous game players could call in instant support from their PDA with the help of the friendly Mafia. Now players rely on an Irishman who works solely for you and also acts as the courier of vehicles, weapons, and item pickups. Instead of just paying cash, players must have the item at their base first and have adequate fuel to call it in and get it delivered. This is also the case for dropping bombs. Throughout the world there are certain items that can be stolen by simply tagging them then calling in the friendly Irishman. The three available items consist of cash, fuel, and heavy ordinates. Cash comes in lots of $100,000 and is handy when purchasing more items from the faction shops. Fuel is also stored in lots of 500, however players can expand the maximum amount of fuel they can hold at one time by purchasing the upgrades from the faction shops.
The gameplay for Mercenaries 2 has also been slightly stepped up. Instead of simply hijacking any vehicle you are next to, players must be a bit more on par. Upon attempting a hijack of a vehicle (apart from civilian ones) players are prompted with a "quick time" event. These events are "ok" if you have controller for the PC but for a good old fashioned keyboard it just seems like a cheap and nasty thing to throw in. These "quick time" events are bearable at first but upon trying to hijack some of the more powerful vehicles players may find the experience frustrating. As for hijacking helicopters - players are now gifted with a grappling hook which has considerable range and is useful for getting airborne in a hostile environment.
Another fantastic feature inserted into Mercenaries 2 is the ability to call in a friend via the Internet. When the player creates a new game they have the choice to either go online with it or stay offline. Stay online and other players or friends will be able to join you at the point you are at with the game bringing with them all of their own fuel, money, and unlocked items. This comes in handy if a friend is stuck on a particular mission or if mindless destruction is a plate on the table.
Mercenaries 2 has lived up to its expectations to be a fun and crazy game about having a hell of a time in a war zone. There are however a few issues with the PC version at this time that should have really been patched before the game was released. Take for example the first few hours of gameplay – if you shot an enemy they wouldn't shoot back, only if the player was in a vehicle would they even realise you were there. The game seems to improve as it progresses, yet the odd glitch left the general feel of the game a bit disappointing. Overall though it does quite well to satisfy the needs of pyromaniacal PC gamers.