Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

"Mercenaries always wanted to be a next-gen game," admits Josh Resnick, chairman of Pandemic. "It's pretty simple: The more stuff we can support, the more fun it gets. I've just been tearing up this amazing looking, super-detailed, high-definition city in a test build of the game [its newly announced sequel] and my heart is seriously still racing. The sheer amount of destruction we can accomplish on the new system is close to overwhelming."

Having last year ramped up the action genre's capacity for free-roaming chaos, Mercenaries has evidently lost none of its aptitude for escalation. Its developer's recent partnership with BioWare has conversely instilled no desire to complicate the game's moral landscape, leaving it with the same bullet point creed. Rule one: Everybody pays. Rule two: Everybody tries to avoid paying. Rule three: See rule one.

With its singular desire to blow up the outside world, the series' debut drafted itself an auspicious manifesto for gaming's physics-based, spectacle-driven future. But that game isn't beyond the reproach of its creator.

Above: Look at his tattoos. Good enough to eat... but he might not like that

"Overall, we're really proud of what we achieved. Mercenaries was the number one selling new IP of 2005, which was pretty exciting for us. Having said that, I wince every time I play it - there're so many areas where we can improve. One of the biggest criticisms levelled at us was the fiction. I think the first game had a strong premise - 'Nukes in North Korea!' - but we didn't fare very well making the world deep, stylish and compelling. So that's an area we want to improve."