At first glance Mercenaries 2 reminded us of a lot of other games; Just Cause, Crackdown or even (surprise, surprise) Mercs 1. But once we jumped into the carnage on Xbox Live, we discovered it's taken the best elements of the above to create possibly the next great free-roaming co-op game.
The Venezuelan environment is a proper (cough, cough) playground of destruction, with choppers, tanks, petrol tankers and more at hand to send entire skyscrapers shaking to the ground, and you can do it all with a buddy in full-on drop-in co-op. Crackdown; watch out.
We caught up with senior producer at Pandemic, Jonathan Zamkoff, who was happy to field our questions.
How important is co-op to Mercenaries 2?
Zamkoff: Critical. It's one of the features that’s just untouchable in the game. We have to make it work, it has to be great and we have to make it balanced, so that another player can hop in and out and it feels like the difficulty is adjusted.
How unique are the three characters in the game?
Zamkoff: Mechanically they're very similar, because we didn't want to unbalance the game from a fictional standpoint. It's really a lot about what their humor is and how it plays out with Chris being a little serious, Mattias being a smart-ass and Jen using her female charms. It's a lot more story-based.
We're toying around with the idea of playing in character and rewarding that. Like Mattias getting an award for big explosions, Jen getting an award for headshots and Chris getting an award for no civilian deaths.
But we haven't implemented the feature yet, it's something that if we don't feel like we can get right, we don't want to tack it on. We have so many features in the game that the idea of doing something half-assed or getting it in just to have another bullet point on a box isn't worth it.