The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
I decided to learn the guitar, but I walked away learning more about life
Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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The Guildhall At SMU Game Corner

Mercenaries: Thrills for hire

This week’s review is about Mercenaries (XBox) by Pandemic Studios and LucasArts. Given a T (Teen) rating by the ESRB, I wasn’t expecting much gritty gameplay or “realism.” I’ve played this game for an hour every night over the last 2 weeks, enjoying myself every time, and haven’t noticed the Teen rating in the least.

You play a mercenary (actually, one of three with individual skills) called upon to capture or eliminate a “Deck of 52” criminals in a troubled region of the world.

Graphics

Starting with a very impressive introduction, you’ll quickly realize that Mercenaries was designed with great care and attention to detail. There are no shoddy graphics anywhere. Character animations are smooth and detailed with all the characters (yourself, enemy and friendly) having a large amount of animations.

All the weapons are replicas of their real-world counterparts, behaving as their real versions do. Vehicles are one of the most fun aspects of the game; riding a lumbering tank or flying a twitchy helicopter really feels like you are there. Indeed, riding an enemy tank allows you to disguise yourself as a member of that faction, letting you sneak inside a base or compound to complete an objective.

However, there is a small downside to all this graphical glory. Because the game world is so large and detailed, fog has been added to all of the outside missions, reducing the amount of landscape you can see at any one time. For many missions you are always in close contact with the enemy, but this fog becomes noticeable the instant you ride a helicopter; if you fly too high, you are surrounded by fog that makes direction and speed very difficult to judge. Air combat is therefore more difficult than it needed to be.

Gameplay

The core gameplay of Mercenaries is accepting contracts and carrying them out by any means necessary. The game allows a refreshing amount of alternatives for completing each mission, a huge plus-point for the game’s fun factor. Tasked with taking out an enemy airstrip, you can accomplish your goal in several ways. Just a few options are: call in an airstrike, disguise yourself as the enemy faction and covertly place C4 charges, or comandeer an attack helicopter and destroy the airstrip yourself. There are more ways, but you can find them out yourself when you play this game. This is a major reason why I found Mercenaries so fun to play, the sheer variety of actions you can take.

Being a mercenary, there are monetary rewards for destroying certain objects and completing various side-missions. Many of the fun features of the game are available through the Merchant of Menace, an “online” shop where you can buy air strikes, vehicles and weapons to aid you in each mission.

Although I suspect that Pandemic wanted the player to blow things up in order to complete a mission, much of my enjoyment came from blowing everything up; almost the entire game world is destructible. Hitting a tree with a pistol won’t knock the tree down, but hitting it with a rocket launcher can make the tree block a road. This amount of detail is appreciated, as the immersion is greatly increased – you really feel that you are thinking as an individual, using your own cunning and guile to complete each mission.

The game is incredibly large and with missions taking place in different towns around the game world, you will need to procure some form of transport. With most missions you are provided with a standard vehicle (mainly an army HumVee), but you have the freedom to take any other vehicle you see. If someone is currently driving or piloting the vehicle, you simply hijack it. Although you could say that this copies the effects of the Grand Theft Auto series, in Mercenaries it really makes sense.

Through all of the destruction, you are never left with doubt about your mission. The in-game mini map is simple yet effective, marking all of your objectives clearly. Your PDA (which every game seems to have now) lists the details of your mission, gives access to the Merchant of Menace shop, and access to your emails. That gives background details and useful information about each target.

Different factions are at odds in the game, and your behavior as a mercenary will determine how each faction sees you. Perform a mission or destroy a certain building and one faction may view you as an enemy, making subsequent missions more difficult. These factions may seem like an add-on to the main purpose of the game, but ultimately you will need to play a very smart game to succeed in all missions. If you are clever, you can play one faction off against another, giving you yet another way of completing a mission. The depth to this game is incredible.

Gaming Briefs

At midnight on Monday, the terror returns as Doom 3 (XBox) makes its dark debut. Members of the id Software team will also be making a special guest appearance at the Game Rush store (6437 Hillcrest in Dallas) starting at 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 3 to meet fans, give away free Doom 3 merchandise, and sign autographs during the midnight event. Fans of Doom 3 will not only experience the same single-player action found in the PC version, but an Xbox-only online cooperative mode through Xbox Live.

The Guildhall at SMU is an intense 18-month certificate program in digital game development. The curriculum was designed by expert teachers working with leaders in the gaming industry to provide students with a solid foundation in game development. Visit http://guildhall.smu.edu.

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