Pandora's Tower Review
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but swords and chains excite me. Should you climb the towers in Xseed's JRPG/adventure hybrid to save your cursed (and tragically whiny) girlfriend?
[ Editor's Note: As Nick Olsen is a writer for Theory of Gaming, this won't be counted in the monthly Vox Pop prize. However, it is very much a worthy read. ]
By Nick Olsen
Co-founder, Theory of Gaming
In 1985 Nintendo started a revolution when it...
I'll see your APC, and raise you a rocket launcher.
When I was a freshman in high school, my history teacher told us how WWI began. One of the elements that she spoke of was what she referred to as "Gang-ism." I never really understood her description, which would explain my final grade in that class, but after playing Mercenaries 2 I think I have a better understanding.
Mercs 2 is a brilliant new title for the 360, and a sequel to an equally brilliant game for the PS2. As a gun for hire, you are dropped into Venezuela to help aid a displaced political leader. And how does he repay you? He tries to kill you. To add injury to that particular insult, on your escape, you get shot in the ass (and not in the good way). I guess they do things differently down there. A simply handshake would have worked equally well, but hey...at least this way I've got a reason to kill a whole army.
The Map for M2 is huge, and very brilliantly rendered. Each section is connected by highways, roads, and bridges. Each city and shanty town seems to really fit in with the environment.
The environment is fully destructible. And when I say "fully destructible" I mean "blows up real good." In the first mission alone, I found myself blowing up sections of a wall by accident. It was then that I realized the full beauty of this game. Gone are the days when I would break a controller in frustration that I simply can't get a good LOS on that .50 cal gunner. Now, I can just plant C-4 on the base of the tower and just blow the whole God damn thing up. Forget about trying to take over that pillar of the wall with a sandbag bunker in it. Just fire a rocket or two at the wall itself and be done with it. Chris had the right idea when he said the new slogan for this game should be "No - **** you." Never bring a knife to a gun fight, and never bring in a tank to a crazy Dutch bastard with a mo-hawk, he'll just head-butt the driver and steal it. Then what are you going to do?
The co-op was one feature I was eagerly waiting, and thankfully, it delivers. There are some missions that have you run into the middle of enemy held territory to take out a building or two. And let me be the first to tell you that rockets hurt. A lot. With the co-op feature, you can just ask your buddy to drop right into battle with you. And two mercs with rocket launchers are better than one. Your single player game isn't affected, but you get to keep any money that you earn, which helps you in the long run. I found myself and my friend wading into the thick of things just to see how much crap we could blow up. And with the physics engine of this game, that list was quite long. The whole concept was well thought out and implemented. It also adds a lot of replay value to an already stellar game.
But there are a few blanks in this clip. There's no two ways about it, this game is buggy. I've had plenty of pop-up and rendering errors that, while not deal breaking, can be the difference between making and escape and running head first into a building and dying. It happens rarely, but when it does, it's noticeable.
When the smoke clears, Mercs 2 stands tall. It provides a lush, beautiful sandbox full of all kinds of vehicles to play with. Everything can be stolen, shot, or blown up. The story is engaging and, many times, humorous. This game is an amazing follow up that genuinely takes advantage of the 360's graphical and online capability. This is one war that shouldn't be missed.