I was a big fan of the first Mercenaries. It was one of the best open world games of the last generation. Since it was based around a military conflict, it had a more open world and bigger weapons than other open world games of its time. If you hoped that Mercenaries would evolve into the next gen like GTA you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a game with the same strengths as the first, but with more destruction, then this is a game you should pick up.
Mercs 2 is set in Venezuela and revolves around a political coup. A man who hired you, uses you to take over the country and then tries to kill you instead of paying. You are set on revenge and work with different factions to smoke out the guy who back stabbed you. There is an oil company looking to protect it profits, a leftist rebel group that is trying to gain control of the country, Rastafarian pirates who smuggle and profit from the black market, and later the Chinese and Americans who intervene in the conflict. The story is thin but it doesn't matter. It's serves its purpose of keeping you moving and giving you reasons for your destruction.
(you play as one of 3 mercs)
Mercenaries 2 has a lot of issues. You will see glitches, bugs, completely unrealistic action, really stupid AI, janky animations, and a lot of pop-in. Motorcycles don't tip over. I drove a motorcycle full speed into an oncoming motorcycle and we just bounced off each other. Neither of us crashed. It is possible to get knocked off a motorcycle, but the motorcycle will always remain standing. Since you are often running around in the country side and through mountains you will encounter foliage and trees. If you are in a car you can tear right through them. If you are on foot they slow you down. Its like trying to run through mud. If you are driving a jeep with a guy standing in the back on a gun, he won't fall off. You can barrel roll down the side of a mountain and when you stop he will still be standing there.
(This bike will never not be standing)
One of the worst glitches is the RPG buildings. Many of your missions will be to secure an outpost. Basically a faction will hire you to clear out an encampment so the faction can take it over. These include buildings full of guys with RPG's. However these guys can't leave the building. They just pop out the windows and shoot at you. The only way to get rid of them is to destroy the building. The animation for these guys is terrible. It looks like they are just morphing out of the side of the building, like a building with a bunch of torsos growing out of it.
I didn't run into any game breaking problems, but there was a few times the game would mess-up and I had to restart to fix it. For example, when you are close to death everything starts moving in slow motion including the sound. Once the sound stuck, so even though I was fine, the sound was still in slow-motion.
You will experience this close to death mode constantly. When you are severely injured you will be knocked down to 2 health. Its easy to get knock from full health to 2, but difficult to get from 2 to death. Your energy regenerates automatically. Often you will be in a big firefight get knocked down to 2 and then you run behind cover so your health can come back. Even if you jump out of a helicopter hundreds of feet off the ground, when you land (often on your feet) you will just be knocked down to 2 health.
The graphics are uneven. Somethings are impressive other things look last gen. Its a mixed bag, but overall they were acceptable. For every crappy texture there is an awesome explosion. And that is what this game is about. When you start out your access to weapons and airstrikes is limited. This can be frustrating since you have probably seen all the coverage of the destruction. As you move through the game however you will be calling in artillery strikes, a handful of different bombing missions, and a nuke. Its all very impressive. You will level entire city blocks. To prevent you from exploiting the airstikes, many goals wills have Anti-Air defenses. You have to take these out before you can call in an air strike.
(you will see things like this a lot)
Despite all its problems, the game does do a lot right. The combat is satisfying. The world is huge and varied. There are a ton of vehicles use, including boats, tanks, helicopters, jet skis, and jeeps. You can hijack tanks and helicopters. Tanks are hijacked by killing the gunner and then pressing a button to starts a QTE hijack game. To keep this from being repetitive each type of tank requires different buttons to press and has a varied animation. You use your grapple to hijack helicopters. You latch on the helicopter, pull yourself up, and then do the QTE game. It never gets old. In shooters usually helicopters are dreaded. In mercs 2 you will want the enemy to bring in helicopters so you can jack them.
(running up the barrel to hijack it)
Besides the main missions each factions will have side quests for you. They all have 10 High Value Targets (HTV's) for you to capture and 13 buildings they want destroyed. There are also collectibles. Through the game there are fuel, bombs, and money to collect. You need fuel for airstrikes and for supply drops. The bombs will give you free airstikes. You locate these and call in your helicopter pilot to pick them up. These can regenerate. There are also car parts to find. You have a mechanic and as you find more parts she can build you new specialized vehicles, like a motorcycle with rocket launchers.
The game also includes online co-op. In co-op you can complete missions or goals in the host's game or just cause random destruction. Its works well with little to no lag. Another benefit is if one of the players dies, the other will have about a minute to revive them. A couple of the missions are difficult and another merc with you can make all the difference.
In the end, the gameplay of Mercs 2 feels more last gen than next. That said its still a ton a fun
(this is more fun with others)
Mercs 2 feels more like a last gen game than a current gen game, but what it does it does well. If you can accept it for its faults and don't expect the kind of evolution you saw with GTA4, you can have a whole lot of fun with this game. So while this game isn't a Terminator 2 or Predator, its a solid Running man. Its cheesy, unrealistic, and unpolished, but its the best kind of junk food there is.