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MDK2

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Interplay
Developer: Bioware
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in MDK2 are very, very nice. The alien levels are properly organic and strange-looking, although a lot cheerier than your typical H.R. Giger stuff. The good doctorís ship looks suitably like a ship, although there sure are a lot of pointless hallways in the game (making me think that the renderer is portal-based). The character models are immediately discernible and unique, although the only times youíll probably get a really good look at them are during cut-scenes and when you pause the game to save. I especially like Max -- thereís something about a stogie-smoking, robotic, six-armed dog that just hits it off with me. Rush would be so proud.

The character design is strange and alien, as is appropriate for the aliens, and just plain funny for the good guys. The Coil Suitís, er, protuberance when itís flying is amusing, and Herr Doktorís visage is enough to bring back memories of many a bad B-movie.

And it seems that thatís exactly what MDK2ís aiming for -- a mixture of Comic Book sappiness (the covers of which, I must say, are convincingly real) and B-movie shtick. The voice-acting is uniformly excellent, which is a very nice touch, and youíll find yourself laughing at all the trite jokes throughout the game. Itís rare that a platformer is entertaining, but the first MDK was, and this one is just as funny. The music is appropriately thumping when it needs to be, and properly ominous when you near major confrontations. And the sound effects, while nothing special, have all the requisite booms and bangs and wizzygigs that youíd expect.


Gameplay:

MDK2 offers a whole lot of gameplay that youíd expect, along with a lot that you wouldnít. Itís really three separate games in one, although Max and Kurt play a whole lot more alike than the doctor does. Iíll cover each one in a little detail. The plot starts off immediately after the first game ends, and involves more alien shenanigans. Part of the fun of the game is watching all the silly things happen, though, so Iíll not burst your bubble. That is, other than to say that I never knew hearing an alien mutter ďWhoís your daddy? Why, yes, I amĒ could be so amusing.

Kurtís gameplay is a whole lot like the first game, which makes sense -- heís the main character from the first game. You will find yourself sniping, chain-gunning, and floating through various levels, utilizing the abilities of the Coil Suit to the max. The sniper rifle is a zillion times stronger than the chain-gun, and is the only way to open certain doors. The Coil Suit has a nifty parachute-like ability, letting you glide around and get to faraway platforms. And thatís something youíll be doing plenty of -- MDK2 has a lot of pain in the ass platforming, just like the first one did. Thankfully, you can save at any point, so get ready for lots of reloads. (And if you reload in the same level that youíre in, the transition is damn near instantaneous. Nice.)

Maxís levels are a whole lot more combat-oriented. He can hold up to four guns at once, and youíll find new guns scattered pretty much everywhere in his levels. He also gets a jetpack, which lets him fly up and over obstacles, although youíll find that the jetpack areas often tend to be more of a pain in the butt than anything else youíll do with Max. Thereís something wonderfully gratifying about blowing aliens away with four Uzis at the same time, though, so youíll hear no complaints from me in that department. And Max can blow away structures like walls, which is often necessary to progress in the game.

Dr. Hawkinsí levels are the most cerebral in the game, and as such, feel the most like a different title. The doctor has two inventories -- one for each hand. By selecting different items and combining them, you can make all sorts of nifty inventions. These inventions are necessary for beating the levels, as youíll find yourself having to build, say, a leaf blower to get rid of something. Most of the combinations are intuitive, but some of them are not quite so. As with most puzzles of this type, some people will go through it immediately seeing what needs to be done, whereas others will get stuck.

All three of the play modes are entertaining, and the game keeps mixing it up so you never get tired of one or the other. If thereís a problem with the game, itís that itís at times too hard -- stupid platforms! -- and it ends up being a little shorter than Iíd like. The levels are huge, yes, but thereís less than a dozen. Ah, well, you canít have it all, can you?


Difficulty:

The gameís difficulty comes from evil, evil jumps. Yes, yes. Other than that, the occasional snipe-around-the-corner, and your prototypical shooter mayhem, MDK2 isnít all that tough. Of course, you can pick the difficulty level when you start the game, which has a serious effect on the enemies and how quickly you get chewed up in the game. Be forewarned.

Game Mechanics:

Mouse-and-keyboard works absolutely fabulously in this game, playing like nothing so much as an over-the-shoulder Quake. I found myself circle-strafing with ease, and the slight auto-aiming of the weapons makes it even better. The menus are clear and understandable, and you can configure the keys to however you like. My personal bindings are as close as I could get to standard FPS bindings, and they worked great.

MDK2 is how a sequel should be done -- same flavor, lots of added meat. Itís not ground-breaking, and at times youíll get damned frustrated. But in the end, itís a hell of a solid platformer that any fan of the genre should definitely get. With tight controls and amusing characters, MDK2 is definitely a winner.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



P2 233, 24MB RAM, SB-compatible sound card, 500MB HD space, 3D accelerator or 8MB video card
 

Test System:



K6-III 450, 256MB RAM, ATI Rage IIc, SB Live!

Windows MechWarrior 4: Vengeance Windows Mia: The Search for Grandmaís Remedy

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated