Mercenary: The Second City is an add-on for the classic game Mercenary that gives the player a new environment and new missions to solve. It was first released for the ZX Spectrum in 1988.
A copy of the original Mercenary is required to load The Second City, and this can only be done AFTER you’ve crash-landed on Targ. After you’ve loaded Mercenary; have watched the introductory sequence, and are finally given control: press Shift and ‘L’ simultaneously, then Benson (the in-game computer) will ask: “LOAD NUMBER 1-4”. Press “1” (at first I tried “4”, but it didn’t work, so stick with “1”), then Benson will say: “PRESS RETURN WHEN READY”. Put in the Second City cassette (or tape file in your emulator cassette player); press Return, and then play the tape (or tape file) and the add-on will load and eventually run. If you download the Z80 snapshot from World of Spectrum (link below) then you’ll be saved having to do this, but unfortunately Kempton Joystick is not selected in that version, and frankly I don’t know what control method is, so if you want to use a Kempston Joystick (as I did), then you’ll have to load it manually. Which I did, then saved my own Z80 file with a Kempston Joystick working nicely.
The Second City has a new exterior colour scheme, which differentiates it from the first Mercenary, and the game is once again set on the planet Targ, but in the southern hemisphere, which is apparently in the grip of winter.
There are different surface features, and different underground facilities to explore. Once again, though, the Palyars and Mechanoids are the two warring factions who are trying to vye for your attention. In The Second City the Palyar Commander’s brother-in-law is the governor and he is determined to keep and eye on you.
Commodity prices have also increased substantially, and things are significantly different in this place, compared to the first game. Like in the original Mercenary, The Second City is completely open-ended and you can play it how you like. You don’t get much help finding out what’s going on, so you have to explore. Thankfully you’re given the opportunity to once again buy the Dominion Dart spacecraft that is on the runway where you arrive, and you have enough money to purchase it. Which at least gets you flying.
The Spectrum version of The Second City is another classic wireframe 3D action game that is still well worth playing today. Unless, of course, you prefer to play the original Atari 8-Bit or Commodore 64 versions, which is how the game is best known.
See also: Damocles: Mercenary II and Mercenary III: The Dion Crisis.
More: Mercenary: The Second City on Wikipedia
More: Mercenary: The Second City on World of Spectrum