Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was a 2008 release in the Mercenaries game franchise. It follows on from 2005's Playground of Destruction. The game retains its pro-explosion agenda, yet it was not produced by the same company. While PoD was developed by LucasArts, World in Flames was actually developed by Pandemic Studios. This was the penultimate game from Pandemic, before the studio was officially liquidated by Electronic Arts. Their final game was 2009's The Saboteur.
The story in World in Flames takes place in Venezuela. While working in Venezuela, you are contacted by Ramon Solano. Ramon says that he is willing to pay a small fortune for the freedom of a captured general by the name of Carmona. His claim is backed up by the fact he is the richest man in the country, and has assets worth well over one billion US dollars. For this reason, your mercenary of choice agrees to help him with his predicament. Upon success, Carmona is returned to Solano's mansion. Unfortunately, this is where the deal turns sour. Solano refuses to pay for the mission, and pulls a gun on your character. His plan involves seizing control of the country thanks to help provided by Carmona. And in order to do this, he needs to ensure no information leaks out before he is in complete control. Unfortunately for you, this means you are going to have to be killed.
Before Solano pulls the trigger, your character turns and sprints away. Some Venezuelan soldiers begin to fire at your character, and as you vault from a balcony you are hit. The bullet hits your character in the rear, if you follow. With glee the game frequently references this moment. After this moment, your character decides that revenge is definitely an option to be considered. And revenge comes in no better form than blowing the hell out of the target's mansion. Therefore, the next mission you'll encounter makes you do just that. Solano's mansion is your new target, and if you can pull it off, Solano too. When in the house, the VZ troops will attack you relentlessly, until a point where one of them decides to smash an APC through a wall into the house and attempt to kill you with that instead. As expected it fails, and you take control of the APC. The damage to the mansion is severe enough that Ramon and his men pull out to another location you do not yet know. After this, the mansion becomes your new base of operations, and the locale where you will be meeting a large amount of your own PMC.
Venezuela has become something of a hotspot after Ramon Solano's rise to power, and as such it means that there are many different factions and elements operating in the area. To begin with, the weaker factions are met, and eventually the big players come into the area. The first faction met is Universal Petroleum, who are a massive fuel conglomerate. This faction wants Solano out in order to get back to their regular operation, which is getting oil from Venezuela's resources. The UP consist mainly of hired guns, and have ties to the United States. Other factions include the Rebels, and the Rastafarian Pirates. However, all three of these factions are small in comparison to the two big players, who will enter the fray during the second half of the game.
After completing contracts with different factions, you will eventually find a link. This suggests Ramon Solano's current location. He is apparently hiding in a bunker, in a mountainside. Despite the fact he's hiding away from you he is still retaining his hold on the country. One of the missions involves storming the bunker, and this simply means attacking and pushing towards the bunker. After reaching it, you will attempt to call an airstrike on it, but the bunker appears unscathed. Unfortunately the only manner in which the bunker will be damageable will be through incredibly powerful weapons: nuclear weapons. In specific, you're looking for a nuclear bunker buster. Unfortunately, such a thing is possessed only by China, and the United States. By complete luck however, both nations are operating in the area after war intensified. Working with the groups will allow you to find one who is willing to supply you with exactly what you need to complete the job. When you are leaving the bunker, Fiona calls you and pleads with you to get back to the mansion ASAP. It is being assaulted by a team of Venezuelan forces, and while she is an accurate shooter herself, she can't hold out against the sheer force of them. Upon arrival you are able to wipe out the invaders, and Fiona thanks you for returning so quickly.
In order to weaken Ramon's stranglehold on the nation you will need to wipe out both of his closest allies. These men are General Carmona, who you rescued at the start of the game, and Blanco. Blanco is an extremely heavily built man, and is Ramon Solano's brute force more than anything. He carries a Hunting Pistol, which is the only one of its kind in the game. Blanco happens to be aboard an oil rig, where many UP operatives and innocent workers are being held captive. The only right thing to do would be to save the day, and that is exactly what you are expected to do. Upon arriving on the rig, you are ordered to kill Blanco. Carmona is killed soon after, when you blow up the Carmona Memorial Bridge whilst his convoy is moving across it. These two deaths cause severe blows to the regime of Ramon Solano, and his army begins to weaken from this damage. Without Carmona leading them they are not as prepared for war with an inexperienced leader like Ramon.
China and the United States Army are both on the offensive now, and both nations have invaded the nation of Venezuela in order to liberate it for their own uses. China's aims put it in direct competition with the US, and vice versa, as both seek to grab the oil fields and shut the other country out. The Chinese army is commanded by Zhou Peng, who saw experience commanding in North Korea during the Song Initiative (he was the Chinese commander during Playground of Destruction), and they have equal equipment to the US Army. In addition, both nations request your cooperation with them, and in return they will both be prepared to offer you the equipment you need to destroy Solano: a nuclear bunker buster.
After completing contracts for both nations, they both request you kill the rival commander in order to wrap up the war. Otherwise, when Solano is gone the rest of the world will watch on as the battle for oil continues. Regardless of the nation selected to aid, you will receive the bunker buster required, and will be able to complete the game. Upon acquiring the nuke you need, you will access the grand finale.
To complete the final mission, you have to travel along a familiar route up to Solano's base. His army is crumbling, and they have almost all fallen back in a last ditch maneuver to save their leader. He is preparing to leave the country though, and allow his army to survive for themselves or surrender. The road to the bunker is massively protected, and there is a helicopter gunship floating overhead for much of the encounter unless it is destroyed or stolen. Upon reaching the base, you are given access to the MOAB: the Mother of All Bombs. Upon calling this beast in, the bunker will be ripped open, and is ripe for you to enter.
Inside the bunker, Ramon rushes to his escape vehicle, which is a helicopter. Your mercenary follows him into the chopper, and rather than having a final shootout, you will be prompted with different button presses instead. The pilot is shot dead during a struggle for Ramon's pistol, leaving the chopper preparing to take off without any control. As it writhes around in the air you must press the correct buttons to avoid Solano's attacks and counter with your own. However, before the chopper hits a wall and explodes you leap from it, leaving Ramon Solano to die in the explosion.
Despite the transition from developer to developer, Mercenaries 2 retains the same explosive-loving theme as the original game. However, Mercenaries 2 has more focus on destroying the environment than the original game. In fact, it almost pleads with you to try it, as the game uses a fire mechanic allowing flames to spread from one item to another, causing an inferno. Building destruction is similar to that of Playground of Destruction, in the sense that while it is present it does not always need to be used. In most scenarios of both games it is nothing more than a less-used, second option.
Mercenaries 2 features pistols, unlike the first game, which contained one pistol in a cheat airdrop. WiF contains three pistols: a silenced pistol, a non-suppressed pistol, and a revolver. This revolver is unique to one character, and carries six shots. Unfortunately, these six shots are the only six you will ever get from this weapon, as it is a one hit kill and yet is unique.
World in Flames also contains a new method of purchase as opposed to the Russian website, the Merchant of Menace, from the first game. One of the necessary components of the game is being able to form your own PMC (Private Military Corporation), from which you can purchase different equipment. Different members possess different abilities, and while there are only three members, they possess all the skills needed, as shown below:
Eva: Supplies cars to the player, and allows you to purchase them. In addition, if you can find a sufficient number of spare parts, then you can have custom made cars, such as the Carracho de Muerte, which is a cross between a car and a monster truck.
Ewan: Ewan is a helicopter pilot who was previously employed by Universal Petroleum. He can provide airdrops, as well as taking you to locations through a Fast Travel system. Ewan is considered one of the most helpful characters due to the fact you can make extremely large sums of money from exploiting one of his challenges.
Mischa: Mischa is a Russian fighter pilot, who spends more time drunk than he does in the air. According to him, he is a better pilot while intoxicated - and this may well be the case. Mischa can bomb targets using his Tupolov jet, should the player request such an action.
Money in Mercenaries 2 is amazingly easy to get in comparison to some games, such as the Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto series. Individual thousands of dollars aren't even shown in the game, and the smallest value is 10,000 and beyond. One of the achievements in the game is even to earn 1,000,000,000 dollars, making the character a billionaire in effect. This achievement is incredibly easy to earn using an exploit that involves Ewan.
Executive Operations (PMC)
Main Article: Censorship
When Mercenaries 2 was released, the game was just as controversial as its predecessor, from three years beforehand. It was actually so controversial in Venezuela that President Hugo Chavez had the game banned. It was viewed as being so severe that Chavez accused the game of being propaganda from the United States government, which seems a little bit paranoid. The Venezuelan government requested help from Irish singer Bono (frontman of U2) in order to help prevent the production of what they called the "Anti-Venezuela shooter", after Bono provided his own personal help to the people of Africa in the past. The National Assembly of Venezuela, headed by Hugo Chavez, had all violent videogames banned in 2009, and punish anyone who is caught selling them with up to five years imprisonment. Many critics felt that this was all due to the production of World in Flames.
The box art for Mercenaries 2 was changed quite heavily from the original design that was shown in order to reach the final look. The initial design of the art showed the back of what appears to be Mattias Nilsson's jacket, with the name of the game displayed on it. This art was then substituted for the current design, showing Mattias biting off the pin on a fragmentation grenade. Along the bottom of the design it shows his name, which suggests that three boxes may have been an option, each depicting a different mercenary from the game. However, the only design ever released was that of Mattias, who is arguably the cover character for the entire series. Another plausible explanation is that the name below the character is intended to make the design look like a dollar note, seeing as all mercenaries are funded with money.