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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

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45 comments

  • yodafan92 - January 24, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    hey i've played the game 4 a while and i still don't know if i can get the nuclear bunker buster from a contact....AFTER i beat the game...Got any thing?
  • BillyBoy - June 4, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    i got the game for the ps2 and its not as bad as they say it is. the game isnt that blurry and theyre lieing about those pop-ins. theyre not that bad so dont be discouraged by this article to waste your money on buying a ps3 or xbox360 just to get this game.
  • white-and-nerdy - September 6, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Insulting indeed.
  • Smeggs - September 6, 2008 1:20 a.m.

    I scoff at the PS2 port, SCOFF!
  • Solid_Gabriel - September 6, 2008 1:20 a.m.

    I don't own a current gen console, so i was thinking of getting the PS2 version, ever since i knew it would also come out for it. But know, reading this article, i changed my mind and will save the money i'd spend on the game.
  • Holy Diver - September 6, 2008 2:51 a.m.

    Not that surprised. At least EA will lose some money because no one will buty this version
  • kohho - September 6, 2008 3:21 a.m.

    Hmm too bad i was really looking forward to this game for like 2 years, and i really dont want to get the ps3, but seeing this monstrosity i might consider buying one just to play this game in the form that it was made to be played in
  • Crossleft501 - September 6, 2008 4:38 a.m.

    damn...you see plenty of sequals that suck but almost none of em are that much worse gameplaywise AND graphically mercs 2 for the ps2=epic fail
  • XMalinthebeastX - September 6, 2008 7:13 a.m.

    By far Mercs: PoD on the PS2 has better graphics then Mercs 2:WIF. The developers and such must be crying right know. As far as im concerned only buy Mercs 2:WIF if your going to get it on a current gen console.
  • internetwinner - September 6, 2008 7:41 a.m.

    I always thought the port of Rock Band to the ps2 was bad... but wow they're not even putting effort into them now. Just sad.
  • NaThAn0001 - September 6, 2008 12:07 p.m.

    does anyone even have a ps2 nowadays i have an X360 now and the moment i first saw the 360 in action i knew i could never play PS2 again, no disrespect to ps2 owners but this game is an insult to you.
  • sixboxes - September 6, 2008 3:11 p.m.

    And who is this Artificial Mind & Motion outfit? Clearly not a group looking to add "PS2 development" to their resume.
  • JH1ZZY94 - September 6, 2008 6:10 p.m.

    360 version is the best
  • londonjack - September 6, 2008 7:50 p.m.

    biggest game of the summer?! screw all versions of mercenaries 2. ill just keeping playing the real biggest game of the summer Metal Gear Solid 4.
  • babyyao11 - September 7, 2008 2:53 a.m.

    Wow...and I thought Alone in the Dark was a big dissapointment..
  • DELTA8558 - September 8, 2008 6:19 p.m.

    Are the developers serious? Ive seen PSP games look better than that.
  • 666pendulum666 - September 8, 2008 8:02 p.m.

    by some of the screenshots,i thought mercenaries2 on the ps2,was a really good looking psp game(to be honest,we'll never find even a good game on the psp)
  • GoldenMe - September 9, 2008 4:17 a.m.

    Mock AM&M for this lackluster piece of cow's feces! I'm still not going to get it anyways, nut still. =P Still waiting for Gears 2/ Left 4 Dead.
  • oreomonkey - September 9, 2008 9:47 p.m.

    wow that was gay cod4 owns this crap
  • Avery2300 - September 13, 2008 2:45 a.m.

    What a POS, im glad i baught the new generation systems

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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