Mercenaries to fight another day

With its nonstop explosions and free-roaming, destroy-anything gameplay, last year's Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was an awesome - if often overlooked - riff on Grand Theft Auto. Today, developer Pandemic announced that it's expanding the Mercenaries world with Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, which will be officially unveiled next week at E3.

Pandemic's keeping a tight lid on details so far, but we do know that the sequel -planned for next-gen systems - will be set in "a new and exotic hotspot," and will feature new vehicles and weapons with which players may run amok. If it's anything like the first game, though, we can say that it'll probably cast players as one of three (or more) mercenaries and set them loose in a war zone to hunt fugitives (or just level the country) by taking on missions from rival factions.

If we were to hazard a guess based on the photographic"hints" Pandemic is dropping, we'd say the new war zone will be somewhere in Central America, possibly even Cuba.

The first Mercenaries was one of the better clones of the open-ended GTA formula, so we're looking forward to being able to drive tanks, steal helicopters and level buildings with rocket launchers when E3 rolls around next week.

May 3, 2006