Metascore
86

Generally favorable reviews - based on 65 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 60 out of 65
  2. Negative: 0 out of 65
  1. 100
    The replay value of this game is huge, with hundreds of things to find, do and complete. Since all the contracts can be beaten in dozens of different ways, the fun factor in replaying the game just goes up and up, plus there are more than three different characters to do it with.
  2. 100
    I can't remember the last time I played a game in which I wondered whether something could be done, and nine times out of ten it actually could be, whether it's calling in an airstrike on a lone soldier or jacking a helicopter from the sky. Blowing stuff has never been this fun, or this satisfying.
  3. This gritty third-person shooter and driving game is the most explosive game I've seen so far in 2005 and a great diversion from everyday life.
  4. Combining hardcore action gaming with a grand environment and an intense feeling throughout... A crucial title that needs to be experienced to be truly believed.
  5. Nothing short of awe-inspiring. It's filled with an incredible 52 missions, and dozens of side missions which culminate in 40+ hours or more of game time, which is almost unheard of in this genre.
  6. The game world is hugely immersive, the danger is constant and mirrors the very real situation brewing right now, the ammunition and firepower are virtually unlimited, you can call in air strikes and bombardments from afar, and the missions are frequently inventive and require imagination to succeed at.
  7. An immaculate production, with the combination of heavy firepower and loosely structured gameplay. If you like Doom, Halo, Serious Sam or any other game that's designed around mass mayhem and flaming wreckage, you'll be perfectly at home.
  8. 95
    What is impressive about the game is the massive amount of replayability available to you With each contract can be completed in anyway you want to, plus YOU have three different characters you can complete the game with.
  9. While the story might be a bit light, there is so much to do that just finding those missions that advance the story becomes a mere afterthought as you lose yourself in the dozens of challenges and cash-op mini-games.
  10. Let me just conclude by defending this game against those that would say it is a Grand Theft Auto clone. While the free-form functionality and mission hierarchy are similar (as well as the ability to steal any vehicle or man any weapon or turret in the game), Mercenaries is its own, unique title and offers quite a few things that Grand Theft Auto doesn't – like the ability to devastate your surroundings.
  11. By giving the player access to almost everything in the game world, LucasArts and Pandemic have created one hell of a fun game.
  12. Just one of those brilliant action games ripe with all the things that make this one an addictive joy to play. With a giant battlefield as your playground, plenty of guns and enough vehicles to use it doesn't get any better than this.
  13. If the game world wasn't so big and the developer wasn't trying to push the limits of the machine then Mercenaries wouldn't be anywhere near as playable. As it is the sense of immersion in this huge war is inspiring.
  14. Very addicting and just plain FUN and at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. The whole package just shines.
  15. 91
    A wild ride of pure action and destruction. It's a long, deep game that continues to deliver on its promise (it's marketed with the tagline "playground of destruction") with an unending amount of military might, muscle, and variation.
  16. The intriguing plot, open-ended gameplay and fantastic visuals makes Mercenaries the entire package and the first must-have Xbox title of 2005.
  17. An excellent offering that takes the sandbox gameplay and makes it work without taking Grand Theft Auto's formula and repackage it's theme.
  18. The sandbox nature and tight, polished gameplay make this one of the first games in 2005 you should play.
  19. The first game to truly capitalize on GTA's design paradigm, Mercenaries deserves its war-worn props. [Feb 2005, p.97]
  20. This is the perfect game for deep-thinking military strategists and an awesome ride for those who just like to blow stuff up.
  21. An incredibly solid title, and one that keeps Pandemic's run going strong. You'll be coming back once you've completed the game, just to play with the vehicles.
  22. I am a huge fan of open-ended action games, and this one just really did the business for me. There is still just so much action in the game and the storyline is so interesting that it's hard not to just sit back and say wow, this is a fun game.
  23. It doesn't have the clever story or wacked-out writing of "GTA", but it trumps that game so severely when it comes to doing the same kind of gameplay that it deserves its own sub-genre of clones. [Feb 2005, p.78]
  24. 90
    Pandemic's packed the game full of well-coded smoke and explosion effects, and seeing a bomb sortie work its way across an enemy compound is almost a thing of majesty. Bring a tear to your eye, it will. It's this unwavering feeling of exhilaration that separates Mercenaries from the other "free-roaming" ripoffs and lets the game stand on its own merits.
  25. 90
    Running missions for the factions is compelling enough, but the real fun comes from hunting down the Deck of 52-the 52 baddest guys in the game. The first handful totally roll over with their Christmas hams in the air, but the latter guys will leave you begging for sweet, sweet mercy.
  26. 90
    Mercenaries can simply be described as unadulterated fun. Every facet of the game contributes to the overall experience, creating a game that is far more than the sum of it's parts.
  27. If you ever wanted to see GTA3 done in a warzone environment and done very well at that, Mercenaries is the game for you.
  28. While the game screams for online multiplayer action, it's sadly not a part of the package. Still, the game's single-player campaign is more than fullfilling, and Mercenaries' varied missions and large collection of explosives will have you glad you grabbed it.
  29. So Xbox fans: you finally have something to hold you over until "San Andreas" is released on the Box.
  30. A frantic military action game that does not hold its punches. Great graphics, sounds and atmosphere. The AI could have used more work, though. [Feb. 05]
  31. If you were a fan of GTA then you'll love the non-linear run-and-gun style of play that is made available. On the other hand, if you prefer the Tom Clancy series, you will find yourself at home with the constant attention to detail and possibility for tactical maneuvering.
  32. Mercenaries is what we play video games for -- it's that simple. It's action-packed, outlandish, violent, often humorous, and makes nicey-nice to the creatively thinking player.
  33. While it's not quite as epic as "GTA:SA," the combat within Mercenaries is more focused and polished, thanks to tight controls, amazing graphics and clever physics.
  34. And that's what Mercenaries is all about. No, not democracy to a downtrodden people. Cash. And plenty of it!
  35. It's like three or four different games rolled up into one giant playground (NO PUN Intended).
  36. Creativity can be one of the deadliest weapons in your arsenal in this free-form third-person shooter. Playing with toy soldiers was never this fun.
  37. Dense with explosive content that satisfies on a fundamental level. Of the games that have tried to borrow the Grand Theft Auto style of play, Mercenaries is one of the most successful.
  38. Although not necessarily its core mechanic, few things are more satisfying in Mercenaries than blowing crap up, and the enormous variety of methods with which you can do that makes it an absolute joy to play... The first truly great game of 2005. [Feb 2005, p.101]
  39. It's videogames at their most base and most enjoyable.
  40. Amazing visuals. [March 2005, p.59]
  41. If you love explosions, feeling like a one man army, car jacking, and 40 hour gameplay do yourself a favor and pick up Mercenaries, the first must own game for the Xbox in 2005.
  42. 85
    The type of game which could rack the fifty hour limit and still force you to come back and blow stuff up because it's just that damn enjoyable.
  43. Certainly a big game, but the gang at Pandemic has seen fit to provide even more in the form of unlockable goodies. More weapons, more vehicles and even a few more characters (this is a LucasArts game after all) are tied to the free-standing bounties, extending the game's already long shelf life.
  44. The game provides plenty of thrills for those looking for a quick slice of action and is truly a playground of destruction!
  45. 80
    The term 'Sandbox' has been bandied around for many games on this generation's hardware, but with the aptly titled 'Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction', Pandemic have created just that - a wondrous and inspiring playground which will provide hours of entertainment.
  46. Maybe it gets a little too tricky for its own good sometimes, maybe it's just plain dull between missions, but when it gets things right it's a brilliantly enjoyable all-action extravaganza of blockbuster proportions.
  47. While most such games overlay this free-form world with rigidly structured missions, Mercenaries allows the player almost as much freedom in action as it does in travel.
  48. An unusual experience, an action title packed with clever touches, depth and plenty of variety.
  49. A game that truly is a playground for the arsonist-at-heart. The storyline is actually decent, the amount of background information is very impressive (the manual is actually handy for a change too), and the large number of weapons, vehicles, and gameplay styles available make for a significant amount of replayability and flexibility in choosing how to play - always a plus.
  50. It's sturdy, it's explosive, and in short bursts it's a stupidly enjoyable, C4-charged rolling death machine of a GTA-beater. Beyond that though it never stretches itself to the obvious cult classic it could have so easily become. [Official UK Xbox Magazine]
  51. It's light in the depth department but the action and powerful weaponry make up for it.
  52. Whilst some elements could be considered repetitive the pacing of the game is such that it's great to just pick up and play for while.
  53. It's a shame North Korea couldn't have been a bit livelier to look at, but the endless stream of things to blow up more than makes up for the limited colour palette.
  54. Mercenaries has superb graphics and a sublime soundtrack, but the fact is that it can just be boring unless you're willing to invest a little effort into creating your own excitement.
  55. 80
    The great sound effects from the booming explosions and roaring jet engines from above greatly add to the war-torn ambiance, too.
  56. Missions full of vehicles to wrangle and people to off feel like a cross between "Grand Theft Auto" and "Metal Gear Solid," with a dash of "Contra" thrown in for spice. Destroy everything and get paid; this is foreign policy at its finest.
  57. The visuals are first rate. News footage sets the scene of the chaos, while short in-game cut-scenes intertwine seamlessly with the action.
  58. On the other hand the mission variety is pathetic, the GTA-copied elements are poorly implemented and entirely unnecessary, the AI is mostly stupid, there are numerous bugs and glitches, and really the bulk of the game is repetitive to the extreme.
  59. Much like the impressive and abundant explosions the game contains, whatever spark of interest Mercenaries may ignite quickly fizzles out due to lackluster mission objectives, flat story and characters..., and a generally derivative feel. [Feb 2005, p.110]
  60. I wonder if we haven't reached the point where games like this can start leaving out the plot entirely. It's a game about giving the player a gun and telling them to go nuts.
  61. An incredibly solid universe with barely a technical glitch to be found, but it's soulless and almost bereft of plot or character. This is a sandbox game that's begging for a purpose. [March 2005, p.80]
  62. The biggest praise that can be heaped upon the title is the fact that mere moments after turning my Xbox off, I was craving another piece of the enjoyable action. And isn't that what gaming's all about?
  63. It's definitely entertaining and the game carries the GTA vibe well, but with very little story, it degenerates into a mindless blast fest that, while fun for a little while, loses its mustard the longer you play.
  64. 65
    The one shining ray of hope in this game is the hopefully more game companies will seek to utilize more Asian heroines with British accents. Come on, LucasArts...it's the least you can do after this stinker.
  65. Explosions certain are fun, to a point, but when that point is all a game has to offer we just can't help wanting something else. [March 2005, p.108]
User Score
9.3

Universal acclaim- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Nov 14, 2011
    9
    The game may be filled with glitches and a few bugs that you simply cannot overlook, but to me, this defines open-world destruction. It is very similar to the GTA series, except it takes out all the unwarranted drug and sexual references, and just replaces it with war in South Korea. The amount of vehicles lacks in comparison to its sequel (which is not as good gameplay wise) but the fact you can man anti-air and artillery units is amazing. The deck-of-cards system is pretty cool, with each suit representing a type of target and the higher the face value, the more important (and guarded) the target is to the North Koreans (NK). There are NK bunkers EVERYWHERE, so you can always pick a fight with them to test out a new gun or to just run them over. Tanks are pretty fun to drive, and blowing up an entire town couldn't be much more fun. The missions/contracts you accept range in difficulty and type, so there is a good variety there. If you read my review of the sequel, Mercenaries 2, you will see what makes this game an overall better fit between storyline and just doing whatever you want. The cheat codes are amazing, since this game was developed in part by Lucas Arts, you can get a Han Solo or Indiana Jones costume :) Full Review »