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Joystiq interview: Mercenaries 2 senior producer Jonathan Zamkoff

Kevin Kelly

We spent some time with the eagerly awaited Mercenaries 2: World in Flames at Electronic Arts recently, and we can safely say that it's a lot of fun blowing crap up in this game. In fact, if they dropped the storyline (you're chasing a druglord) altogether and called this game Blowing Sh*t Up!, we'd still buy it.

Senior Producer Jonathan Zamkoff answered several of our questions about the game after we took a breath to check for scorch marks and shrapnel wounds. We'll be spending a lot more hands-on time with this one at E3, so look for more coverage next week. In the meantime, check after the break to find out why they hope driving won't suck in this one... although they don't explain why this screenshot looks like Motorstorm 2: Save Your Own Ass.

Gallery: Mercenaries 2: 7/10/2008 | 8 Photos

The first
Mercenaries was published by LucasArts, and now the sequel is coming out from EA. Has that transition been odd at all?

Actually it's been great. We have all of the resources of the worlds biggest publisher (marketing, PR, QA, asset libraries) with none of the creative constraints. Those guys have been good on their word of letting the labels run their own show.

What are the biggest differences (besides the graphics) between the two titles?

The overall scope is remarkably bigger; this includes asset complexity, world size, draw distance, number of vehicles and airstrikes, missions, game length, etc. And of course there's the drop-in-and-out anytime Co-op, which is a first for any open world game.

What will you be showing off at E3? New levels? Multiplayer? Campaign mode (i.e., is there one)?

C'mon, I wasn't born yesterday! :) You're going to have to come by our booth to check out the latest and greatest, but it will be sweet- and hands on!

What challenged your team the most on this, being a next-gen title?

I think the exponential jump in complexity from last gen. Everything has become bigger, better, and higher resolution and the knock-on effect has been a huge leap in asset pipelines, team sizes, outsourcing, tools, computer specs, development budget, all of it. There's nothing we've done on this game that was just ported over from the original Mercenaries, all of it has been built from the ground up with blood, sweat, and tears.

Will there be any extras down the line, like downloadable weapons, vehicles, character skins/outfits?

Mercenaries 2 is the kind of game that screams for PDLC and we're all about doing it...but we haven't committed to anything yet and we want to focus on making the shipped version as strong as possible. Then take a nap. Then work on PDLC.

The vehicle play was both fun and frustrating in the first Mercenaries. Will there be more vehicles (anything flying?) and have you addressed that in this new version?

Over 130 in total ranging from land, air and sea. Motorcycles, helicopters, jet skis, patrol boats, tanks, APCs, sports cars, gun trucks, the works. We've got a designer who's spent the majority of the last year just tuning vehicle physics, so yeah, I can say with absolution that the vehicle play in Mercenaries 2 is a huge step forward.

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