Mercs, I thought. Great! At last, a game dedicated to the famous Tour France cyclist, Eddie Mercx. But what a disappointment when I found this was just another all-shooting, all-exploding combat action, rather than an exercise in pedal-pushing. Only joking... OR AM I?!
In fact Mercs, (short for Mercenaries, see) is a sort of Commando-derivative in which fearless gun-toting Arnie Shwarzenegger-types (depicted in all their bulgy-muscled glory on the intro screens) do their best to make the world safe for freedom, democracy and the Pepsi-Cola Corp by snuffing thousands of international terrorists.
A former US President (no names, but I guess it's either the one who told a lot of lies or the one who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time) has been kidnapped while on a visit to central Africa. Direct military intervention must be avoided, so an elite group of mercenaries headed by yourself has been chosen to rescue the Ex-Prez and wipe out the rebels who aim to take control of the country of Zutula.
What this bolls down to is eight levels of multi-directional scrolling, with a host of enemy soldiers falling under your weapons. Each level must be completed within a time limit, and there are arrows along the way to direct you to the end of the level; but since barriers such as trees, rocks and huts bar your way, these must be destroyed with an appropriate amount of pyrotechnics.
At the end of each level, there's a special challenge; on the first, a VTOL jet fighter which hovers over a plateau taking potshots at you, on the second a line of tanks moving back and fore between fortifications, and so on. To take some of these out you'll require weapons heavier than the assault rifle with which you start the game; these you con find in supply chests along the way, and the same applies to medical supplies and so on - in fact. In this respect too the whole exercise thing is rather like Commando or Ikari Warriors.
Though the graphics aren't terrific, featuring some blocky designs, awkward spite masking and uninspired choice of colours, there's enough action to make Mercs fairly absorbing, and the two-player option is fun. But since I completed the first two levels in around two minutes, you might wonder how long the excitement will last.
Label: US Gold
Price: £11.99 Tape
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
PHIL FISCH: Not bad game play ruined by poorly defined graphics. If you like your games to have a psychedelic haze this is for you.
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