Review by mootootwo
"Magnificent Dreamcast Kgame (ok, so I had to stretch a little for the K...)"
Aliens invade earth and it's up to a pointy haired scientist, a four armed dog, and a man in a coil suit to stop them. Wait, who are the real extra-terrestrials here?
MDK 2 is the sequel to the game (you guessed it) MDK. This third person adventure on the Dreamcast is one of the finest available. It combines excellent graphics, gameplay, story, and sound (with some humor thrown in for good measure) into one excellent cake of a game (you could say it's the Black Forest Cake of cake-games). Anyway, enough with my bad analogy. It was developed by Bioware and published by Interplay in 2000, and still remains a pinnacle in the third person action game genre.
The Three Amigos (and some aliens).
The so often used premise of videogame storylines is used here. Aliens, plain old boring aliens, are invading earth. Guess who's going to stop them? That's right, the three unlikely heroes, Max, Dr. Hawkins, and Kurt (hey they actually got their K to work in the acronym). While this may seem like a downside to the game, my guess is that the whole alien premise was just a big excuse to have freaking huge enemies in gorgeous alien-esqe environments. When I say huge, I'm talking take-up-the-entire-screen-from-a-distance-of-300-feet-huge. You will have to take down many of these guys, as action is the name of the game in MDK 2. From the moment you gain control of your character, you're skydiving down to an alien minecrawler (a really huge machine capable of destroying cities) while avoiding enemy fire from rockets, lasers, and the like. After going through a brief tutorial covering the game's basics, you're off to start the level. MDK 2 boasts three different types of gaming into one sleek package. Each of the characters has a different style of gameplay that keeps the gameplay fresh .
Kurt: Picked on for years in English class for his job as janitor.
Kurt's levels are action with some good ol' puzzle solving tossed in. He has a coil suit (complete with a chain gun as the right arm) that let's him parachute from heights, and a sniper helmet, which allows him to pick off unsuspecting enemies. To complete the levels, you need to master using all of the special techniques at once. Parachuting down above your enemies and unleashing your chain gun from above is quite common, and circle strafing is necessary to survive. Pinpoint accuracy and speed are needed while sniping to stay alive. The result is non stop action from the time you enter the level, till the time you leave. Even the puzzles can't keep the game boring, as your main incentive to solve it is to stay alive. The game doesn't just sit by and let you solve it calmly, it throws countless enemies at you to make sure you solve it, otherwise you get to be alien cuisine. The levels are well thought out and have many quite ingenious parts to them.
Max: With his four arms, he can knit a mean sweater in half the time it would take normally.
Max, the four armed canine, takes a new meaning to the word ''hot dog''. Four arms means he can hold four guns at once for some awesome gaming. Max's levels, like Kurt's, are about action. Unlike Kurt's however, there is less puzzle solving. Shooting the aliens is fast paced and intense. Luckily, he has an arsenal of weapons with which to dispose of the extraterrestrial scum. From shotguns, to uzis, to magnum pistols, the aliens won't have a clue what hit 'em when Max comes to town. Spicing up the shooting gameplay is some platforming with his jetpack. You will have limited fuel in which to make it to platforms, kill enemies, and rocket to the top. Multitasking becomes important when you have to shoot an enemy, while hovering with your jetpack. You have to hover, aim, shoot, and dodge, all in mid-air. The action is intense and exciting as you play as Max.
Dr. Hawkins: Has an extreme dislike for mayonnaise.
Dr Hawkins' levels take puzzle solving to the next level. It requires combining items and using them in conjunction with others that will help you advance to the next area. One example would be tying magnets to your shoes so you can cling to the outer surface of your ship, and slipping a fishbowl over your head, so that you won't suffocate. You can combine countless thing to come up with some pretty interesting items (The Atomic Toaster anyone?). So the key to beating the levels is knowing what to combine and when to use it. There is less action in these stages, so they move at a somewhat slower pace, but they will put your thinking (and platforming) skills to the test. It's a refreshing break from the non-stop action of the other two characters' levels.
You've been hit by *boom boom* you've been struck by, some smooth graphics code...
MDK 2 looks fantastic. Highly detailed environments, huge enemies, cool lighting, who could ask for more? It really shows the DC's power and what a whallop the DC packs. The framerate is smooth, with fast gameplay and sweet textures. The whole game has a dark look to it, giving it a slightly foreboding mood. There is really nothing to complain about here. It amazes and surprises, just like the rest of the game.
For strafing, please press X.
MDK 2 also uses an ingenious control system. Instead of using the control stick for movement (which one would think is generally the best idea) they decided to emulate the PC/Mouse setup my using the four letter keys for movement. Y moves you forward, X and B strafe, and A moves you backwards. The control stick is used as the ''mouse'' and is used to look up/down and turn. It first is daunting and uncomfortable, but after you become used to it, there is really no better way. Movement is precise and second nature. The other important controls (jumping, shooting, etc.) are controlled by the triggers. Jumping while shooting is easy, and necessary to complete many of the levels. The controls are great and help with the extreme difficulty of the game (more on this later).
It's all good...
Sound in the game is, like the rest of it, great. It has some high quality voice acting for the different characters and great, techno/upbeat music. The characters communicate and each voice fits the part perfectly. Like the graphics, the sound impresses on every level. The only thing that you might find unsettling is the sound of the guns. When being fired constantly for long periods of time, the looping sound-effect becomes rather annoying. It's hardly noticeable as you'll most likely be caught up in the action onscreen instead of paying attention to the sound.
Hey, that's hilarious!!! Oh, wait, that's just my reflection in the screen.
One of the best things about MDK 2 is that it oozes with humor. From the main villain wearing red sunglasses, to the aliens stealing Kurt's suit, leaving him in his boxers, you will find the story is quite enjoyable. Cutscenes are funny, and the voice acting is humorous. You will find yourself amused when watching cinemas, and when the Doc communicates to your character in the game, it's rarely boring. Humor is used throughout the levels to good measure also. You can distract the aliens by deploying a ''dummy decoy'' which is really just a bag that inflates with a picture of a person on it. The aliens, attack it ruthlessly as if it were you and you will find yourself quite pleased by this. Max's levels have the low, but, slightly funny farting aliens, and the doctor has bits of funniness all over the place. He dances to music on the radio, goes to the bathroom, even talks to his 20 foot tall man eating plant. The whole game doesn't take itself seriously which helps make the experience an enjoyable one.
Must Destroy Kgame
All in all, MDK 2 is an excellent action game. It combines different styles of play into one great looking experience. It's funny, enjoyable, and interesting enough to keep you playing. The one huge (remember the last time I said huge? remember how big that was?) flaw that stops this game from getting the highest score is the difficulty level. It is infuriating. You have to have flawless, split second responses to threats, and many times the enemies outnumber you twenty to one. Try to do all of this while jumping on platforms that break away from under your feet and the experience can be EXTREMELY maddening. Numerous attempts can be made to get to the next checkpoint, and you'll die just before reaching it. Considering how far apart they are, it's not enjoyable to play the same half-hour segment dozens of times. It is a great challenge and when you do finally pass that one section, it gives you a great sense of accomplishment. This one flaw, however, can't take away how good MDK 2 is. The bottom line is, buy it, and buy it now.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/01, Updated 11/30/01
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