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GVMERS - The Controversial History of Mercenaries


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Following the release of Rockstar Games’ seminal Grand Theft Auto 3 in 2001, GTA clones of all kinds flooded the market, each one angling to capitalize on the sandbox game’s popularity. That era of gaming lasted well into the 2010s, giving birth to Mafia, The Getaway, and Saints Row. Even brand licenses imitated GTA’s winning formula—Scarface, The Godfather, and The Sopranos received video game adaptations in 2006 to varying degrees of success.

With 2005’s Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, developer Pandemic Studios delivered a GTA clone that bucked the common trend, sidestepping crime-ridden urban environments to instead use a politically unstable Korea as its setting. The end result offered a revolutionary experience whose main rival made it to market in the 2008 sequel, World in Flames.

Rather than gangsters chasing the lap of luxury, Mercenaries starred guns-for-hire caught in the middle of political upheaval. As opposed to crime bosses and kingpins, characters in Mercenaries more often than not conferred with factions that represented the interests of entire countries. Critics and players considered the series a nice change of pace, nicely punctuated by Pandemic’s unapologetically over-the-top gameplay.

And though a third entry may have further expanded upon Pandemic’s militaristic answer to the open-world chaos of Grand Theft Auto, Mercenaries died with the unceremonious shuttering of the development studio. It was a death whose impact lingered as open-world games evolved beyond the parameters previously solidified by Rockstar and later adjusted by the likes of Pandemic Studios.

This is the history of Mercenaries.


This is a series that desperately needs a comeback. I’d take remasters of the first 2, I don’t care at this point. Brilliant games, and just so much fun playing coop with friends.


The fact that you could destroy almost anything with the right ordinance - with functional consequences - was a feat that not many open world games have even now.

Merc 3: No Limits was in production until Pandemic Studios shut down. It's said it would take place in Cuba.
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