Six years ago. Howard Powell, the leader of a crack terrorist group, decided it was time to break away from such evil ways. His plan was to form a group of elite mercenaries that would deal only in specialised missions. Since forming the group several years ago, they've not been involved in any true military activity. However, all this is about to change.
The former president of the United States has been taken hostage by a group of Zutula revolutionaries while taking part in a world peace bid in central Africa. Nobody knows why he's been taken captive, and for this reason, such information should not, under any circumstances, leak to the public via the media. This immediately rules out any military intervention, as the press follow every move the armed forces make. Therefore, the mission must be taken up by an undercover group, namely, Howard Powell's Mercs.
Joseph Gibson is the man chosen by the Mercs to lead the assault through Africa. If necessary, he will be given backup by Powell, if the mission proves too difficult for a single man. Playing the pan of Gibson, you must battle your way through eight increasingly difficult levels in an attempt to free the President. A second player can take up the role of Powell and the two can battle it out on the screen simultaneously. Thinking back several years, many of you may remember the old classics Commando and Ikari Warriors. Mercs is simply an extension of the two games. Rather than simply progressing up the screen though, the whole playing area scrolls in all four directions. To progress you must advance in the direction of the red arrows, that flash intermittently.
The game begins in the steaming jungles of central Africa. The enemy is immediately alerted and several waves of troops are sent out to bring a premature end to the rescue attempt. Armed with only a machine gun, the task ahead seems rather daunting. Luckily though, the front line troops don't live up to initial expectations and provide little resistance. This gives you the opportunity to pave a path through the first level and collect advanced weapons that have been dropped or simply forgotten about by the crumbling enemy.
As you progress through the levels though, the enemy attacks become incredibly frantic and survival is the name of the game. Luckily, there are plenty of food stuffs lying about that can be picked up to boost your ever decreasing energy bar. Also, the extra weapons and power-ups keep appearing in the form of crates, so it's possible to keep up with the best. Not content with sending crowds of machine gun wielding rebels in your direction, the revolutionaries have a vast battalion of artillery as well, including tanks, jeeps, missile emplacements and even air power. The climax to each level sees you taking on such artillery head-to-head. While avoiding enemy fire, you must pump several rounds of lead into the guardian to progress onto the next level.
Being fully trained in various forms of hardware and artillery, you're given the opportunity to take over some of the rebels' tanks and jeeps. Once in control of such a vehicle, you can simply crush the rebels or fire the advanced weapon bolted on to the front. This certainly increases the chance of survival and raises the hopes of the government back home who eagerly await the return of the former premier.
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