Merciless Mod Review

Originally Posted on October 2nd, 2006: Link.

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There aren’t many mods out there in the WW2 genre that realistically capture the horrors faced on the battlefield. Team Merciless hopes to change the way you perceive war in Merciless Mod.

My comrades lay fallen before me.

My comrades lay fallen before me.

WARNING:The following mod contains extreme amounts of blood and gore and is not recommended for players under 18 years of age.

Life is cruel. There I was, surrounded by many good men as we trudged forth through the back alleyways of a deserted town. The sound of bullets breaks the silence as we came upon those damn Germans again. Already we were locked into a constant fierce battle for the last three days. I look around. My own comrades are spewing up chunks of blood after taking shots to the chest; parts of their bodies blown to smithereens by mortar shrapnel. I watch as one of my closest friends gets his head taken clean off by an enemy sniper. I try to hide behind the closest shelter, but it’s already too late – the last thing I see is the grenade lying near my feet, and I am no more. Perhaps fate was a reality too cruel to accept. Heaven awaits me, until the next respawn.

This is the kind of scene depicted in the recently released Merciless Mod, an already controversial project by Team Merciless, which tries to put the brutality of war back into Call of Duty 2. When it comes to ubiquitous manslaughter, these guys did not even try to hold back. Go onto their main website and halfway down, a clip of actual gameplay footage shows just how ugly things can get. Exploding bodies, spraying fluids, torched carcasses, and an overabundance of gibs shows that these guys spared no expense to bring the reality of war right to your lap. Not only will this mod leave you feeling a bit nauseated, it may also force you to look away from the computer screen once in a while in the middle of the action.

There are plenty of arguments and/or opinions that can manifest themselves while you are playing this game. Perhaps it adds more depth to the gameplay itself, and brings the war experience front and center with an in-your-face style. “Sure, the creators may be doing it for their own purposes,” Moddb member SamFreeze said, “but I see this as an improvement upon the game. Not only will it show people the true brutality of war, but it will also show you the true grit and determination those soldiers exhibited under those horrific circumstances.”

Chaos fills the battlefield.

Chaos fills the battlefield.

Another Moddb member offered a distinct alternative to SamFreeze’s views on the manner. “I’m not saying I’m opposed to gore in games, just such mindless application of it,” Ilsamir_Lord stated. “And to say that it is just entertainment is [exactly] the problem. If there was a statement about realism being made then it would be a little less tasteless.”

While Call of Duty 2 focuses on the strength of teamwork and camaraderie, Merciless Mod may be attempting to convey the sense of grief and the harsh veracity that these soldiers go through every day. One shouldn’t just think of this mod as a way to let loose and kill your enemy with that grenade in your hand.Instead, you could think of that person on the receiving end of that weapon could, hypothetically, be a real person enduring such life-threatening hardships. Of course, perhaps all these guys tried to do was make the game more “fun”, by going to such grotesque limits in an almost cartoonish manner. In the words of Chris_P, lead programmer for Merciless Mod, “Merciless is definitely not meant to try and convey any kind of “serious” side to the war, but it is much more “realistic” than the out-of-the box experience offered by IW (Infinity Ward, the developers of Call of Duty 2).”

There is a dangerous game at play here...

There is a dangerous game at play here…

However, why don’t I just try the game on for size first?

Upon starting up this game for the first time, you notice just how insane things can get under these additions to the gameplay environment. My first time up, I was running down a street when I noticed a few enemies hiding within a house. I took a step back. I hesitated, then threw a grenade. As it exploded, gas began to flood out. Lying low near the building, I could hear the sounds of them coughing, wheezing, and even puking after inhaling the fumes. One of them jumped out of the building, so I immediately landed a headshot, and not only did the bastard get decapitated at the neck, he also let loose a bloodcurdling groan that actually caused me to tremble in disgust. I took out my machine gun and pumped him with shells, blowing chunks out of his body. It also wasn’t rare to see limbs laying scattered about the battlefield – an arm covered in blood laying next to a mound of sandbags or pieces of internal organs and large amounts of blood covering the road leading to my next objective.

There were frequent occurrences in servers that I visited where players would gather to blow themselves up with sticky bombs just for fun. It is this type of behavior that may put some off the game for good, and for others, make them really big fans of this freak of nature that Team Merciless has created.

...but damn if it isn't exciting.

…but damn if it isn’t exciting.

I had plenty of issues while playing Merciless Mod. For one thing, the animations lacked smooth transition. When throwing the sticky bomb, there would be a delay from when it would show me tossing the bomb to it actually leaving my hand, making it somewhat difficult to time the accuracy correctly. Yet, this has been balanced out with some interesting twists. Say, for example, you’re taking a stroll down the sidewalk and you get accidentally shot in the neck by some enemy sniper hiding in that window over yonder (bear with me here). You proceed to drop the weapon in your hands and grab your neck, choking over the blood coming up your throat. Even if it sounds disturbing, it shows that both the coders and animators paid attention to detail as far as dying in battle is concerned.

Unfortunately, another big problem was the unsteady Net latency and server lag problems. With all of this action and intensity going on in the screen, it tends to create a lot of lag and instability while playing the mod, ending up with the server crashing. The game can be fun but it needs some patching in order to make the experience last longer.It also would’ve been nice if the team coded a function to create a server with bots so you could enjoy it on your own time.

Umm... I didn't do it.

Umm… I didn’t do it.

As far as actual additions to the game are concerned, the list is quite staggering. The introduction of the Panzerfaust, Bazooka, CAL30, and the Mobile MG42 machine gun add a whole new dimension of gameplay. The action becomes even more intense with the inclusion of fire and mustard gas grenades. Imagine ducking behind a sandbag barrier while a CAL30 starts tearing up the landscape around you, forcing you to huddle down as far as possible in order to escape it. And just when you think he has to pause and reload, a single canister lands at your feet, emitting silent yellow death. This is the horror of the gas grenade. As it begins to fill your lungs, your eyes start to tear up and you begin puking up shards of your esophagus. Death couldn’t come quickly enough.

Despite the somewhat clunky character animations and over-the-top particle effects, I have to admit; after several minutes of playing this game and feeling a little unsettled, things tend to get pretty exciting.

Perhaps there are other things to be worried about then the content in the mod. If you don’t mind the simulated glorification of violence that this modification offers, give it a try on your server and see how your community responds. It might just be what the doctor ordered, if that order included a loss of 10 pints of blood and having your head served up on a server platter for the world to see.

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