Mercenaries 2 on PS2: How bad is it?

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is probably the biggest game of this summer, and while it's irksomely glitchy, it's a lot of fun - on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, anyway. However, a few days before the game's Aug. 31 release, we received the following question from one of our forum posters:

Seems like an obvious answer, right? Of course the PS2 version, made for a console that’s been obsolete for three years, isn’t going to be as good as its current-gen cousins. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a good game on its own, though; after all, it’s a fully destructible sandbox war game made using the same game engine as the first Mercenaries, which was fantastic. So we loaded up our PS2 copy of the game (which we’d ignored up until that point for a variety of boring reasons) to find out - and almost immediately, we were bitterly disappointed by what we saw.

Above: Uh... huh

Mercenaries 2 isn’t just a scaled-down port of the PS3/360/PC version – it’s a genuinely crappy game. To be fair, Artificial Mind and Motion - the developer that handled the PS2 conversion - seems to have done its best to re-work the enormous game for the PS2’s capabilities. Environments have been scaled back, missions have been remade from scratch and the game’s seamless, open-world structure has been preserved. But they apparently didn't have enough time to finish, because what could have been a great PS2 action game is ugly, foggy and so outrageously glitchy as to be almost unplayable.

For starters, Mercenaries 2 on PS2 has the worst pop-in we’ve ever seen in our lives. No, that's not hyperbole. Here's a prime example:

Above: Wait, isn't there supposed to be a bridge here?

Above: Oh, THERE it is!

For the uninitiated, “pop-in” is what happens in 3D games when things that haven’t been rendered yet pop suddenly into view. It happens a lot in most games with small detail items, like vegetation, and sometimes even manifests as large objects that suddenly appear in the middle distance. But Mercenaries 2 may be the only game we’ve ever played in which huge, significant objects don’t appear until you’re right on top of them, and sometimes not even then. Never mind that the sky keeps changing color for no discernable reason. Observe:

Next, let’s take a look at how it differs from the PS3 game. Obviously, we can’t expect it to be anywhere near as pretty, but take a look at the following and tell us if you don’t think AM&M could have done a little better.
Here’s what your first step onto dry land looks like on the PS3:

And here’s the same shot on PS2:

Explosions also play a huge role in Mercenaries 2, and you’ll see a lot of them throughout the course of the game. Here’s the first big one you’ll see in the current-gen version:

And again on PS2:

Then there’s the small matter of the cutscenes, which were for some reason scaled down into black-barred, low-res versions for the PS2 release. For example, here’s a still from the PS3 version of the game:

And the same still from the PS2:

And the full scene, with a side-by-side comparison:

Again, a canned video on PS2 isn’t going to look as good as PS3 machinima – but why the black bars? The PS2 has never had a problem with rendering out full-screen, DVD-quality video, so why does this look so ropey?

For the record, this is what cutscenes looked like in the original Mercenaries:

Speaking of the original Mercenaries, our colleagues at IGN - one of the few outlets to actually review the game as of this writing - went so far as to say that the PS2 Mercenaries 2 “looks worse, plays worse and is just plain worse than the groundbreaking original,” which some commenters immediately scoffed at.

For once, IGN, we’ve got your back. Mercenaries 2 on PS2 is worse than its amazing predecessor, and we've got images and video to prove it.

Above: Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction on PS2

Above: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames on PS2

Look closely at the video below, and you’ll see that the original features smoother textures, more coherent action and actual rolling fog instead of just a vague haze that obscures the horizon. Also, pay special attention to how long it takes just to pause or bring up the PDA screen in the sequel – those moments aren’t edited:

Yes, yes, we know – PS2 owners are Luddites who should upgrade their aging console setups, and no "real" gamer gives a damn about how bad a game is on PS2. (Apparently, Electronic Arts agrees.) But if you’re going to port the summer’s biggest game to a still-popular console and charge 40 bucks for it, it needs to be at least as good as its years-old competition. Otherwise, it’s just insulting.

Sep 5, 2008


  • Leif666 - October 19, 2008 4:18 p.m.

    i dont have a ps3 or the money to buy one and i just got the ps2 version and i got to admit it is not as good as what people say it is.
  • anoldwoman-PS3 - September 15, 2008 3:37 a.m.

    good morning sunshine the Earth says Hello!
  • poncho7998 - September 12, 2008 6:46 p.m.

    Yes it is insulting to the point that it's a low down dirty shame. Did these people even try?
  • Darth_Reven - September 11, 2008 7:46 p.m.

    That Last video sucked you must have had a very slow system. I should know that it does not take that long to pause the game and bring up the PDA on my PS2.
  • xion - September 11, 2008 1:33 a.m.

    What a piece of shit
  • thrawn001 - September 10, 2008 8:03 p.m.

    I would have to say that for $59.99 + tax they would have made a better game for the XBOX 360 and the PS3. What they threw out is absolute garbage. Paying all of that money for something that is in no way the same experience as Mercs 1 is already bad. As far as the system to system comparison, well what can you expect? They do not look at the PS2 for money. Earnings, now come from the PS3 and the 360. Although for all of the processing power and capabilities of these next-gen systems I have been severely disappointed. There are many shooters that are out there that possess awesome shoot and move and shoot from cover more accurately. I watched a friend play this game and he could not even hit a target on full automatic at all. It was ridiculous. I go to a very good site that reviews games that plays a big part in purchases and I hate to say it but most of the stuff that comes out is instantly forgettable crap. Going back to the PS2. Where is the XBOX? Another system will come out 2-3 years from now and the systems you are playing now will be rendered obsolete or soon head down that road. I think many developers have to look at gameplay quality and player appeal towards certain aspects of the game before it is released. The PS2 version will not be the same as the PS3, but that is to be then make it the best way possible for that system. Once again more hype and more of your money.
  • Spooty_The_GameGuru - September 10, 2008 12:55 a.m.

    Yeah, that's really bad. Hey, at least it has a steady frame rate. Am I right? lol.
  • mrlias1981 - September 9, 2008 4:51 p.m.

    Lol! what a horrible port!
  • strollingchimp - September 8, 2008 8:35 p.m.

    this game is awful my friend and said it was really good and he had it for ps2 so then i got it for my 360.who ever designed this game for ps2 is an idiot
  • alberiostar - September 8, 2008 10:54 a.m.

    wow. k. anus banna.
  • RAAM582 - September 8, 2008 1:11 a.m.

  • Thequestion 121 - September 8, 2008 12:37 a.m.

    That's one of the worst, watered-down ports I've ever seen!
  • Elbo444 - September 7, 2008 10:24 p.m.

    wow, I never thought it would be THAT bad, seems like that pop-in could make it unplayable at times even /scoff
  • Scott1121 - September 7, 2008 2:47 p.m.

    Wow A sequel should never have worse graphics and more problems then the first one that was just terrible
  • ELpork - September 7, 2008 12:02 a.m.

    Ohhhh my goodness. that was bad.
  • bron1417 - September 6, 2008 2:48 p.m.

    it looks absoloutly terrible on PS2
  • game-.-freak - September 6, 2008 11:01 a.m.

    I just think it's a shame that PS2 owners get shat on. Lets face it, last gen consoles can still be capable of little sparks of genius, it is just down to the (lazy) developers to create those sparks. But there are lazy ports, and then there is what I have just read...
  • CrazedPenguin - September 6, 2008 9:12 a.m.

    Thanks Mikel, the pop-in can't be imagined until you see it. That vid is hilarious in it's awfulness. This is what future reviewers should do when reviewing a game like this, without writing a word, just let the game destroy itself.
  • TheSuburbiaRuins - September 6, 2008 5:23 a.m.

    Haha ps2, u make me laugh
  • mexpunk666 - September 6, 2008 4:29 a.m.

    thats odd... i got the ps2 verison( not all of us can afford a current gen console u know) and i dont have any of those glitches, except for the PDA, and pause, other than that, it runs smoothly on my console, its just a shame the game was really short, and the last mission was disappointing.

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