The R/R/R Files: Case #010 – Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Welcome to the R/R/R Files, where we look at whether or not an older title should be re-released, remade, or rejected. Apologies for the delay this time. There has been a lot of review code up recently, meaning that we’ve had a lot of work to do. Thus, this was put on a bit of a back-burner in order to get the more important review content up. Thankfully, we will be resuming the regular schedule next time around. As this is our tenth R/R/R Files, I thought it would be best to consult with Ryan, our resident news editor, to find out what he’d like to see. His choice:
Case #010 – Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
- Developed by Pandemic studios, more famously known for their Star Wars Battlefront series.
- The game was banned in South Korea on release as it depicted South Korea as a war-zone, a touchy subject for the nation, but this was overturned in 2007.
- Features Jennifer Hale, a voice actress who’s casting includes the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Grandia II and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
What is Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction Like?
In the spec, Ryan said that, “I don’t know why but Mercenaries is a PS2 title that always stick out in my mind. It holds no major significance to me and it wasn’t exactly the best game available but it is still one that pops up when I’m asked what my favourite PS2 games were. Nevertheless, I loved being given free rein, being told ‘Do whatever the hell you want’. Mercenaries had so much to do. There was the Deck Of 52, the many collectibles and, of course, the main story. For someone who was 13, it was oh so very awesome.”
Technically speaking, Ryan was playing underage; something that he will be taken to the headmaster’s office to have a good talking to about after this is all done, but he makes a good point. While I have never played this game in my entire life, nor have the means to do so any more, it does strike me as a game where freedom is the biggest selling point. Sandbox games were all the rage back in 2005, thanks to the success of Grand Theft Auto III, and this was one of the more accomplished clones for its time.
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction spawned a sequel – Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, which launched on next generation consoles in 2008. While the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of that game were met with a mixed response overall, the PlayStation 2 version was heavily criticised.
Then it all started to go wrong. Both Mercs Inc. and Mercenaries 3: No Limits were announced as being in development; but along with Star Wars Battlefront 3, these ideas died alongside Pandemic Studios themselves, who perished in 2009 shortly after releasing The Saboteur – to mixed reviews.
How easy would it be to port?
The problem doesn’t lie with the technical side as PlayStation 2 games are currently being ported onto the PlayStation Store. Unless Microsoft revive their Xbox Classics collection of games, this is probably the only way you will see this game in its current form. But then again, we had Godhand on the PlayStation 2, so this wouldn’t be a push too far for a re-release from Sony.
The problem indeed is not a technical one, it is a logistical one. Ryan would have loved to have seen this remade using EA’s FrostBite 2 engine, which as a proof of concept sounds amazing. It would certainly showcase the engine in a different light, though not as amazingly different as SSX did.
Pandemic shut its doors in 2009, meaning that EA would have sole rights over the intellectual property, so the ball is directly in their court. In the immediate aftermath, Mercenaries 3: No Limits was cancelled off the bat, whereas Mercs Inc. went MIA. This effectively spelled the end of their involvement with the series. Combined with the competition in the form of both Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row franchises would mean that should a new version of Mercenaries come out, it would be in very tight competition and would have to stand out in a different way. While EA have been known to delve into the back-catalogue to revive old franchises, this one hasn’t been dormant enough to warrant current attention.
In the future, the time may come where the series may get another shoe-in; but with the shutting down of the original development team, stiff competition from other franchises and EA’s reluctance to inherit the projects from Pandemic after its collapse, it just doesn’t seem likely.
Ryan: Remake with FrostBite 2
What do you think though, should Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction be re-released, remade or rejected?