By Thierry Nguyen 01/17/2007 "Mercenaries always wanted to be a next-generation game," says Josh Resnick, president of Pandemic Studios.
Mercenaries: World in Flames director Cameron Brown quickly interjects, "We had to cap out the time our AI was using, cap out our level of detail, and cap out our physics to get the game running on the current-gen systems."
So one could imagine the glee that Pandemic had in putting its very big game idea (a mercenary dropped into a "playground of destruction") into a system like the PS3. Such a big idea requires a different treatment, so we've opted to break down MWIF into a handy glossary for quick reference and perusal....
A World of Fire...
The previous Mercenaries game was subtitled "Playground of Destruction," and this next installment won't depart from those roots. While Pandemic won't give a hard number for things like the amount of weapons and vehicles, you can safely assume that, as in the last game, there will be plenty of hardware to shoot and drive. Check out this sequence off Mattias blowing the crap out of a tank and some local Venezuelans. As you might expect, whoever those Venezuelans work for won't be too eager to hire Mattias if he hits them up for a job.
Arvidsjaur: A small village located in northern Sweden and the hometown of Mattias Nilsson. Reputed to be a lawless "Swedish hillbilly town," as described by Brown--the nearest police presence is four hours away. As you might guess, this allows for all sorts of unsavory activities to take place without the interference of any law authorities. This also gives you an insight into the character of Mattias. See also: characterization; Nilsson, Mattias; Stormare, Peter
Bounty: A basic aspect of MWIF gameplay. The focus of the game is to perform mission contracts for certain factions and to capture or kill high-value targets in order to get paid bounty money which, in turn, can be used to buy new weapons and vehicles. See also: Deck of 52, freedom
Characterization: One of the aspects that the Mercenaries team felt could be improved from the previous game. Pandemic recognizes that most players only remember the primary characters of Mercenaries as "the American, the chick, and the Swede." The team focused on building actual backstory and motivation when defining characters for MWIF. See also: Nilsson, Mattias; reactivity
City: Next-generation development allows for detailed, populated cities to be part of the landscape. Brown comments, "The next generation feels more like looking out the window at a real city than driving around a game." See also: civilian, collateral damage
Civilian: A significant new addition to MWIF. Due to the game taking place in a populated region as opposed to the military zone of the first game, noncombatants play a larger role than they did before. Civilians can affect the amount of access you have to parts of the game world, attempt to deter you, influence which contracts you can accept, and so on. See also: collateral damage, freedom
Collateral damage: Any surplus damage that you inflict upon objects or people (like buildings being hit by an explosion or civilians accidentally getting caught in the crossfire) outside of the primary target. Collateral damage isn't tolerated, and it can affect things such as who is still willing to work with you and what missions are available. See also: civilian, freedom
Deck of 52: A method used by Coalition troops during the Iraq War to identify high-value targets, such as officers within Saddam's regime. Used as the main gameplay element in Mercenaries, but now has been abandoned for a new (and unrevealed) system that allows for more freedom. See also: bounty
"Everything is a tool": Design mantra for MWIF. The basic idea that everything, whether a weapon or a building or a faction or a contract or a tree, is a tool that the player can use to advance in the game. See also: freedom
Freedom: One of the basic tenets of MWIF. Describes the mercenary's own freedom. Brown illustrates this point with phrases like "free to do your own thing, free to say no to authority figures, free to move between the civilian and the military world." Also describes the pure mechanical freedom of the gameplay. The player simply receives a goal and is then left alone to experiment with the gameplay in order to figure out how to achieve said goal. See also: civilian, "everything is a tool," physics
Fire: One of the significant gameplay additions to MWIF, and Brown's answer to the question, "What's the one thing that you wanted to do on the current gen but had to wait until the next gen to implement?" Says Brown: "I've wanted to do some interesting fire gameplay for a long time, but it wasn't really feasible until now. Fire is a very complicated, organic thing, so it's an interesting creative and technical challenge to make it into a fun toy for the player. Let me give you an example of how it works--and remember that this is a completely generalpurpose system that the player can use anywhere as long as the right ingredients are present.
"Let's say you want to take out the guards at a base. You're up on a hill overlooking the base, and you're equipped with a sniper rifle. Looking through the scope, you see an oil tank with a car parked next to it. Hmmm... You take aim at the tank, and POP! You put a hole in the bottom. Fuel starts spilling out, creating a stream that travels away from the tank. The trap is set.
"Now to attract the guards. You shift your aim until the windshield of the car is in the crosshairs. SMASH! The screen explodes in a shower of glass. You lower the scope and see the guards--alerted by the sound--coming to investigate. You take aim at the back of the car and wait for the perfect moment-- this is a skill shot. BLAM! The bullet hits the car at the perfect angle to glance off in a shower of sparks. The sparks land on the fuel trail, igniting it. The guards notice the fire and start to panic and backpedal. But it's too late! The fire races along the trail to the tank: KA-BOOM! The tank explodes, taking the guards--and the nearby car--with it." See also: freedom, physics
Granularity: A small measurement of volume. Also the term for an effect that's possible in next-generation development, as buildings and objects are treated as granular. No longer are buildings limited to the two static conditions of being either destroyed or intact; it is now possible to destroy portions of buildings and vehicles. Shoot the wheels or treads off of jeeps and tanks, tear chunks of a plane's wing off, or take out the bottom corner of a building. See also: city, fire, oil rig, height, physics
Harrier: A special British fighter jet that can take off and land vertically like a helicopter. Implied as part of the vehicle pool in MWIF. Also used in this statement from Brown to describe the expanded freedom in MWIF: "It makes just as much sense in this [Mercenaries] universe to roll up in either a Harley- Davidson or a stolen Harrier." See also: freedom
Height: A hitherto unmentioned aspect of the Mercenaries game world. Not only is MWIF's world larger in width and length than the original game was (even when you combine all the separate maps of the first game into one), but height is implied as another important consideration. Since there will be cities in MWIF, one can reasonably assume that there will be a lot of tall buildings to destroy. The most significant example of height as a measure of game space is the use of multiple oil platforms, which can often rise more than 150 feet above the water's surface. See also: granularity, oil rig, physics
Intelligence: Similar to Xbox 360 title The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's radiant AI, the reactive AI in MWIF allows the game to reason out things in real time. This is due to the PS3's ability to dedicate additional processing power to AI.
An example: The player parks a helicopter and then starts running toward an AI soldier. The AI soldier will see the player and perceive them as a threat; then see the helicopter and perceive it as a possible tool to use against the player; then consider factors such as proximity of the player, the helicopter, and other friendly soldiers; extrapolate where the player might be going; and then figure out whether to simply attack or to attempt to go to the parked helicopter. See also: reactivity