by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on PS3
Mercenary's pay and life (cntd.)
Throughout the map are safe houses that you can use to save your game. You’ll have to take them from the current occupants, but it shouldn’t be that hard. If you do buddy missions, your safe houses will also be upgraded to include health packs, ammo crates, grenade stashes, and fuel for Molotov cocktails. There are over 50 safe houses, so you’ll never be that far from a save point (though you might have to get your hands dirty to do it).
There are also enemy encampments along roads and rivers that you can scout for health, ammo, and explosive supplies. You can either do it from afar by using a monocle ( L1 while viewing the map), or just get in and eliminate everybody.
Momentary glitches ruin some of the immersion
There are some small problems that take you out of the experience, though. Small graphical glitches like leaves going through walls of houses exist, and a noticeable decrease in frame rate occurs during some really hectic moments, though the drop is fairly rare.
Enemy AI is, for the most part, excellent. When you begin your attack, enemies will shout commands to each other and they will often hunt you out. Even if you just drive by them in a Jeep, they will often jump in one of their own and chase you down. There are however moments where the AI isn’t so bright, where enemies are looking right at you and doing nothing, or staring at a wall waiting for you to appear before them.
Sound wise, the background music and sound effects are well done. All of the weapons sound right, and the background music has a distinct African feel. The voice actors range from good to decent. For example, the voice of The Jackal speaks oddly fast, though that could be a character decision.
In for a long haul
The game should take 15-20 hours to run through on normal, depending on how many side quests you partake in. These range from assassinations given to you by a mysterious, Deepthroat-like person, quests to deliver travel papers to civilians hoping to escape the country in exchange for malaria medicine, and buddy missions. Overall, there are about 40 side quests and 33 main quest missions, as well as all the enemy camps and safe houses.
Multiplayer and excellent map editor
While the single player story might seem like a lot, the game also includes multiplayer game modes, as well as a pretty robust map editor. Multiplayer includes the standard ranked and player matches in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Diamonds. This might be more of a personal pet peeve, but before matches begin, everyone must set their status to ready and constant requests to change the map or ban a certain user bog down the process and keep you from getting to what’s important. Other than that, the multiplayer is fun, but probably won’t draw any fans of Call of Duty or Halo away.
What is really amazing is the Map Editor. Going in, I expected something similar to the Halo 3 Forge mode, but me expectations were totally blown. Instead of customizing pre-made levels, you can create your own level from scratch. The amount of customization is awe inspiring, as you can change everything from the time of day (up to the minute), cloud cover, the weather, wetness, not to mention add objects like houses, barrels, and vehicles, as well as grass, trees, rivers, and weapons. You can even change the geometry of the level so you have hills instead of a flat plain! It’s probably one of the best level editors out there. The only real problem is that there is a lack of a tutorial system, instead giving players a help section in the pause menu. Because of this, casual players will probably be scared away. You aren’t kept from downloading other’s maps though.
While there are some small graphical glitches and AI problems that take you out of the experience, the game is still a great example that open world first person shooters can be done, and be done well at that. The graphics are truly stunning, and some of the encounters with the AI when they are at their best are unlike anything else.
No Pros and Cons at this time