Mercenarios: El arte de la destrucción (Título original en inglés, Mercenaries: Playground of destruction) es un videojuego de acción en tercera persona ambientado en un imaginario golpe de estado en Corea del Norte en septiembre de 2009. Fue sacado a la venta el 18 de febrero de 2005. Actualmente hay una secuela titulada Mercenarios 2: World in flames, ambientada en Venezuela.
El líder de Corea del Norte, el anciano presidente Choi Kim, había transmitido a Corea del Sur su deseo de alcanzar la paz. Para ello, aceptó la Sunshine Policy (Política de mano tendida) y reavivó así las esperanzas de una reunificación pacífica. En respuesta, Corea del Sur accedió a invertir dinero en Corea del Norte con la condición de que éstos desmantelaran su ejército. El presidente Choi Kim se convirtió en una figura muy admirada entre la juventud surcoreana y despertó un nuevo sentimiento de esperanza y orgullo en el pueblo.
Nadie se esperaba los terribles acontecimientos que echarían por tierra los planes de paz. El hijo de Choi Kim, el general Choi Song, no estaba nada contento con las negociaciones y los tratados de paz. Él creía que su padre estaba equivocado sobre el destino de Corea del Norte. En el transcurso de la ceremonia donde se celebraba la unificación de Corea, el general Song organizó un golpe. Con el respaldo de un ejército de insurgentes dinamitó la ceremonia y aniquiló la vida de los líderes de las dos Coreas, incluso a su propio padre.
El nuevo dictador de Corea del Norte expulsó a todos los embajadores, prohibió la entrada de prensa extranjera y cortó toda comunicación con el exterior. Finalmente la prensa olvidó a Corea y se centró en otras crisis. Pero cuando menos lo esperaban, llegó lo peor.
La armada australiana acudió a rescatar a los tripulantes de un carguero norcoreano pero cuando éstos les vieron llegar hicieron todo lo posible por hundir el barco, algo que hizo sospechar a los australianos, que decidieron inspeccionarlo. Hallaron armas nucleares en la bodega con destino a una empresa indonesa que funcionaba como tapadera para terroristas. Las naciones aliadas se hicieron eco devínculo que había entre el general Song, las armas nucleares y los terroristas. Poco después el gobierno chino publicó un informe que revelaba que la capacidad nuclear de Corea del Norte estaba mucho más avanzada de lo que se creía, los norcoreanos poseían armamento nuclear para atacar a los cinco continentes.
Las Naciones Aliadas (parodia de las Naciones Unidas) invadieron Corea del Norte y desarticularon la zona de lanzamiento de Yongbyon. Inspectores de las N.A. encontraron allí documentos que confirmaban que Corea del Norte estaba construyendo 30 cabezas nucleares en otra zona aún desconocida, y que estarían listos en tres semanas. El caos era inminente, y aquí es cuando entran en acción los protagonistas, los mercenarios.
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction is a third-person shooter video game developed by Pandemic Studios and published on January 11, 2005 by LucasArts for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game features an open world environment, with elements of potential stealth gaming and reputation-based social mechanics, and is set during a fictitious multi-national military action in North Korea, circa 2007. The player takes control of one of three mercenary characters and completes contracts in the war-torn country for profit and to prevent a nuclear war. Critics gave favorable reviews to the game, in particular praising its focus on explosive mayhem.
The Xbox version is currently compatible with the Xbox 360 as of the update dated April 18, 2007; however, many have experienced issues with its emulation, particularly frequent freezing.
A sequel, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, was released in 2008 for the Microsoft Windows, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 formats. Following Pandemic Studios' purchase in November 2009, Electronic Arts announced EA Los Angeles would be developing a second sequel, tentatively titled Mercs Inc.
The player is deposited in a vast "sandbox" environment, free to pick up missions, perform side tasks, collect items, hijack vehicles, or employ game mechanics in exhibition. As the world is a sandbox, the player can choose to do any of these activities at any time. In fact, one can level all of the buildings in the game world, including the faction HQs. Buildings are usually restored after an extended time away from the area, the player's death, or re-loading the game. Also, the player can cause wanton destruction in many small outposts and strongholds occupied by and restricted to faction members only. However, excessive rampaging is discouraged by the reduction of the attacked faction's disposition towards the player, and the murders of civilians and Allied Nations personnel result in cash fines as well.
There are five warring factions: the Allied Nations, South Korea (in cahoots with the CIA), the Russian Mafia "Merchants of Death", China and Song's North Korean army. Disposition from the first four factions is initially friendly, though through the player's actions it can go from friendly to neutral and eventually hostile. Since the North Korean faction is always hostile towards the player and to all the other factions, the player is free to attack NK forces without fear of penalty. In fact, destroying NK vehicles will result in a small compensation, adding credits to the player's account.
In order to get back in the favor of an offended faction, the mercenary must complete contracts for the faction. If the faction is so hostile that it refuses to give out contracts, the player must bribe the HQ guard first. Other less effective methods include collecting National Treasures and Blueprints of interest to each faction, destroying hidden listening posts, leveling Song's monuments or helping out one faction fight off another one during a skirmish. Upon being witnessed, the player's actions will be favored by the faction receiving the help; however, the other faction will dislike the player more.
A mercenary may disguise himself by driving a faction's vehicle, allowing for enemy outpost infiltration. However, the disguise is rendered ineffectual should the enemy spot the mercenary entering the vehicle, should the player exit the vehicle or if the player engages in inappropriate behavior (such as attacking enemy troops). The disguise is also lost if the player comes across an enemy officer, who will invariably see through the disguise.
The player can perform various missions for different factions, but it is not required to complete every mission available. A mission involves one or multiple objectives that include stealing, delivery, retrieval, or destruction of certain items or vehicles, assassinating targets, and destruction of an enemy camp or stronghold. Oftentimes, a mission provides a bonus goal which may be completed for extra cash. AN missions are usually lukewarm taxying and escort missions, whereas Mafia-instructed missions are somewhat more stealth-oriented, and SK and Chinese missions border the bellicose, usually having the player take orders from one faction to harm the other one. It is thus notable that a mission may upset another faction, although this can be prevented to some degree if the player engages the mission with stealth, remaining hidden, disguised under a certain faction or restrict himself from killing or destroying enemy units. The completion of a mission rewards the mercenary with cash, increase in the faction's disposition, and tips regarding the Deck of 52, and it occasionally unlocks items, vehicles, or airstrikes.
Throughout the game, the player is tasked with hunting down and "verifying" 13 targets of a "suit." "Verification" involves either killing the target and taking a picture of the corpse, or subduing the target and radioing an AN helicopter to transport the prisoner away. After every verification the player is awarded with "Intelligence" and cash, which is usually doubled if the target is captured alive. In a suit, the number cards (from 2 to 10) are located throughout the in-game region, and they can be found by exploration or by receiving tips from friendly factions (usually after the completion of a mission). Each of the three face cards (Jack, Queen, King) is only made available by one of Chinese, South Korean, and Russian factions. A "face card mission" often involves specific objectives for the faction in addition to verifying the target. However, it is not necessary to verify all members of a suit to progress through the game. The player must gain only enough Intelligence by verifying targets before the AN gives the player the Ace contract. The Ace, the most important figure in a suit, is located in an isolated, often heavily-fortified area where the player is dropped off. The Ace contract usually consists of a variety of required and optional objectives that can be accessed in multiple routes, before the Ace is available for verification. After the Ace is verified, the player is transported back to the main region to hunt down another suit of targets.
If the player attempts to leave the game world (leaving N. Korea), they will effectively enter a restricted area where either the AN Task Force or the North Koreans have supreme air power in those areas. Entering these areas immediately prompts you with a warning message (either by an unnamed Allied radio operator or by your support operative, respectively) telling you to get out quick. Choosing to ignore this warning prompts another message, informing that enemy planes are inbound. This is followed by three fighters appearing to shoot the player down with a large salvo of explosives that are impossible to completely dodge and tough to survive. These are areas that usually surround the province (with the exception of the Black Gate until after the Ace of Clubs is verified) and are marked in red.