E3 07: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames - hands-on

We faced stiffer opposition than just a few foot soldiers, of course. The (mostly evacuated) streets were patrolled by tanks, which - as Mercenaries fans know - are really more of an opportunity than a threat. You could try hiding and calling in an artillery strike or a fuel-air bomb to obliterate them, but the real fun is in making them your own.

Hijacking tanks is a little more complicated now than it was in the first Mercenaries. First, you'll need to take out the machinegunner sticking out of the top hatch, and then dodge the treads as you run toward the cannon. Once you get to its tip, you'll be able to grab on and start a hijacking minigame. This involves timed button presses that result in you running along the cannon's barrel, smacking a pistol out of the tank commander's hand, yanking a grenade off his vest, struggling with him for it, yanking the pin, blocking him from closing the hatch and then tossing the grenade down after him.

Once it blows, the tank and all its destructive firepower are yours. It's never quite clear if there's a mess left over, but if there is, it won't deter your mercenary, who'll just hop right in. Still, it's probably worth hunkering down in a gore-spattered cockpit if it means invulnerability from bullets and the ability to knock down buildings with a well-placed cannon blast or two.

We didn't get to see many of the long-promised bells and whistles, such as the realistically flowing (and burnable) oil, or the grappling hook used for hijacking choppers and scaling buildings, but what we played was a lot of fun and packed to the gills with huge explosions, so we're not complaining just yet. It's still rough around the edges for a game that's due out at the end of the year, but given how much fun the first Mercenaries was, we've got high hopes for this one. So far we aren't disappointed by the basic gameplay; we'll see how the rest of it comes together as we inch toward its late-2008 release.


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