With constant conflicts in the Middle East only escalating by the year 2000, it's hardly surprising that a limited nuclear war would totally destroy the world's most important source of oil. This shortage, by limiting military strength and technological development, led to economic conflicts, partial military collapse and severe oil shortages. Two major events were to take shape as a result of this crippling of the military, being the secession of the Western States from the USA and the complete "official" takeover by the world's drug lords of the countries they'd run indirectly for decades. The resulting re-distribution of power resulted in the Old and New Americas and the unification of Central and South America under the flags of the drug cartels. With the collapse of official, government sponsored armies, terrorism whether state sponsored or otherwise became commonplace. Without the ability to fight it, terrorism was adopted by governments and corporations to "influence" the competition. Weapons manufacturers were soon issued exclusive contracts by governments and major corporations. Black market weapons were available to ordinary citizens, but only under lease as the replacement costs were prohibitive. With the rise of terrorism, mercenaries-for- hire also became the rule. Only mercenaries could provide the military strength needed by governments and corporations at a reasonable cost. In addition they provided the ideal scapegoats in the event of failed missions. Italy and Australia eventually offered $500,000 grants to those interested in starting their own mercenary companies. Huge profits could be made by those willing to take on the risks, negotiate the deals and manage the mercenaries needed to complete missions.
Thus, as an eager entrepreneur in Australia, you open Mercs, Inc. a mercenary-for-hire business. Winning the battles you undertake is important for maintaining your reputation, but if you don't turn a profit at the end, you'll go out of business. Only the top rating business will get the biggest contracts and be able to negotiate the biggest payrolls. Reputation, politics and good business sense must be used to succeed.
Two game modes, Campaign and Scenario, allow a player to either play out a single scenario or to play through all the scenarios, a total of sixteen, in a full campaign toward total domination of the industry. Three game levels allow choosing how hard it will be to reach the desired goal. Game detail can also be set to low or high which will affect overall game speed, depending on individual systems.
The initial decisions relating to the campaign or the scenarios take place in the Office Interface. Here at your desk contracts are received, negotiated and accepted, travel plans are made, intelligence gathering is arranged, as well as hiring, outfitting and training the mercenaries. Negotiate contracts on the phone and via the fax machine, then choose your mercenaries from the rolodex. This done, buy and lease the weapons you need for the mission from the supplier catalogs. Keeping track of any time constraints, choose how long it will take to travel to your destination and how long your mercenaries will train for the mission. Fortunately the Users Manual outlines tips on contract negotiation, hiring mercenaries, facts on weapons and many other details that must be considered before launching a mission. Once the details are taken care of, Mercs, Inc. is ready to go into action!
The Mission Interface is where the real action takes place. This is also where you find out if you did your work well while in the Office Interface. The hired mercenaries will now try to carry out the contract that was accepted with the tools, weapons and training given to them. The action is on a mercenary by mercenary basis, where specific instructions are given to each of the team members whereupon action moves to the next mercenary. Every detail for a particular mercenary is displayed in the bottom portion of this action screen, including details on wounds, weapons and ammunition. Various action buttons instruct the mercenary as to what you to do from standing, walking, running and crawling to using a med-kit or throwing a grenade or shooting the enemy. Each Merc then responds via radio whether they can perform the action or not. Each mercenary has action points that can be used to perform actions during his or her turn. Action points are determined by the health of the Merc and previous actions taken. The enemy responds, in turn, to the actions the mercenaries take, attacking where they can. Their initial response will be confusion, but it won't take them long to get organized. This action continues till the mission is successful or until all the mercenaries are killed.
Once a mission is over, a performance review, viewed in the Office Interface, informs the player on just how well they've done. Leased weapons are returned and the totals for the mission are displayed in a profit/loss report faxed to you by your accountant. Industry ratings and overall popularity are also displayed to let the player know just how well they're doing against the competition. These reports are kept in your filing cabinet for later review. Fostering and maintaining a high popularity and profile will earn Mercs the leverage to negotiate bigger and more profitable contracts. With a little luck and some skill, Mercs, Inc. will be the most popular and the richest company in the business.
The graphics for this game are amazingly detailed and well rendered. From the details of the various military arenas to the look of the weapons and each mercenary's face, no detail was spared or missed. The military look and feel of this game will definitely appeal to those who enjoy military simulations. The AI engine behind this game is also excellent at generating reality based responses to the player's moves. Genuine line-of-sight is used to track and target the enemy. No fancy broad shots that never miss, only precision aiming will bring down the enemy. Bear in mind also that from time to time, depending on the source, some of the equipment may fail. Jammed rifles or machine guns, dud grenades and the like are possible when dealing with the lower-end suppliers. A function button exists to try un-jamming the weapon, but that may not be enough. The sounds used in this game are also quite realistic. Weapons fire, explosions, enemy movement even ricochets all have realistic sounds.
This is very much a strategically oriented game, with planning being of paramount importance. Keeping an action plan in mind when actually playing out a mission is also critical to success. Game play is actually quite slow and methodical, but can be quite exciting and captivating once the bullets start flying. The overall quality of this production makes it worth checking out if you like combat simulations and war games.
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