Mercenaries 2: Co-op Hands-on

Eventually we arrived at a crash site and changed tac to destroy our target. Leaping out of our tank onto the rocky, enemy-infested plateau, it was time to really start doing some damage. After softening up the ground troops guarding our quarry with some delightfully anarchic, two-man run and gun tactics, we got ready to pull out an airstrike, the only tool for when you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherflipper on the island. We were accepting no substitutes.

Hiding between a few boulders while Mark provided covering fire, a press of the Back button brought up the support tools menu, unveiling a Christmas list of carnage, all there for the taking. A satellite-guided rocket attack was to be the toy of choice, and what pretty colours it made. Targetted via the game's quick and easy-to-use top-down area map, a few seconds were all it took before the reasurring sound of something large and dangerous whistling through the air gave way to the even more reasurring sound of things blowing up good.

The downed plane shattered and spread itself over a very wide area in a brilliant flash of eyebrow-scorching obliteration, while all of the enemy troops unlucky enough to get caught in the explosion - there were quite a lot, it was a big explosion - flew through the air like this unfortunate seal.

Satisfied with a job well done, we stomped onwards up the hillside road to our next target, until our bravado briefly got the better of us. Rounding the corner, the explosions and gunfire were swiftly cut out by Mark's surprised yelp of "Shit! Tank up the road!" Pulling the kind of hasty about-face last seen when Han Solo ran into those Stormtroopers on the Death Star, we scarpered back down the hill like Scooby and Shaggy running away from a janitor in a werewolf costume. It seems that the freeform chaos of Mercenaries 2's warzones can even surprise its creators.

In a heady blend of fear and jubliant cackling, a new tactic was swiftly improvised, and we flanked up the hill through the roadside trees and rocks, using the breathing space to ready the rocket launchers. Hijacking tanks is all well and good, but this one had sneaked up on us, and that's just plain cheeky. Punishing him for his affront with a swoosh-bang hail of high-speed explosives and a bellowed enquiry of "WHAT DID YOU LEARN!?", we scurried away from the burnt-out wreck, safe in the knowledge that that the newly-educated foe would not be doing it again.

The rest of our expedition took in countless perforated soldiers, a forest's worth of trees turned into matchsticks, more effective building razing than Godzilla himself could muster, and a higher frequency of narrowly survived comedy scrapes than you'd find in the finest Tom & Jerry cartoon. Make no mistake about it, Mercenaries 2 is one hell of a good time.