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Pandemic's next-gen title raises concerns in Venezuela

Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios' next-gen title has been labelled as psychological warfare and is feared to be the first step towards a real life invasion by supporters of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez.

Mercenaries 2, the new next-gen title from Pandemic Studios, has been labelled as an example of psychological warfare by supporters of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, who fear it signifies the first step towards a real life invasion.

Currently in development for the PlayStation 3 and scheduled for release later this year, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is set in Venezuela and centres on a conflict for oil that "turns the country into a war zone."

According to a report by the Associated Press, politicians loyal to Venezuela president Hugo Chavez - who has repeatedly accused Washington of planning to overthrow him - believe that the game is a tool which will be used by the government to gain support for a real life invasion, with congressman Ismael Garcia commenting: "I think the US government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later."

Venezuelan lawmaker Gabriela Ramirez added: "it sends a message to Americans: you have a danger next door, here in Latin America, and action must be taken. It's a justification for an imperialist aggression."

Pandemic, naturally, has denied any political agenda in the creation of the new game. Publicist Chris Norris told the Associated Press that the game's designers "always want to have a rip from the headlines," adding that the conflict in the game is entirely fictional but conceding that "although a conflict doesn't necessarily have to be happening, it's realistic enough to believe that it could eventually happen."

The game is likely to be banned in Venezuela under a proposed new law that seeks to prevent children from playing violent videogames.