Whatís your fashion statement today: Flight suit, lab coat, or dog collar? - Review By Jetzep
Video game players are a pretty independent bunch, but one trait they must
share is the need to save stuff. How else can you explain the fact that this theme
runs through many of the most successful videogames ever made? In Mario
youíre saving the Princess. In most RPGs youíre usually saving, amongst many
other things, your sacred honor. And in action games, you usually just have
to save your butt.
Enough smalltalk. In MDK2, itís time to save the world,
again - but this time, youíve got to go completely schizo to do it. Why? Read on.
The original MDK for the PC stopped you in your tracks, right? It had humor,
radical graphics, and an amazingly addictive sniper targeting system
integrated right into the powered suit worn by Kurt Hectic, the main
The alien architecture is unique and well done.
MDK2 gives you all that and more, where the "more" comes in the form of
two extra characters, bringing the player character count up to three.
Joining Kurt are Dr. Hawkins (the scientist who invented Kurtís combat suit)
and Max, a four-armed robotic dog who was invented by the good doctor. But thatís not all. Much like
Rayman 2, MDK2 takes great advantage of the Dreamcast hardware. The ample RAM is used to
serve up a steady helping of hi-res texture maps over complex (and consistently
pleasing) geometry, amazing vertex-based colored lighting and shading,
and a ton and a half of particles.
This may sound like overkill, but the game showed good forethought even
before the start/load screen and intro movie. Interplay and Bioware both
chose simple logo screens that flash on and off, well (to borrow a super hero
metaphor), faster than a speeding bullet. There's no wacky and gratuitous animations
to sit through. Thanks, guys.
The gameís first screens pay homage to early action comics and set up the
story quickly and concisely. After transitioning from 2D to 3D (mercifully, a
super quick cross fade), there is a short setup of the present day plot
predicament, which is *gasp!* a recurrence of the alien problems that
plagued the original game.
The gameís ten levels are divided somewhat equally amongst the three
characters. You start out as Kurt, dashing around a gigantic alien MOMD
(machine of mass destruction), using your suitís gliding ability and sniper
scope to send just the right amount of heavy metal death downrange toward
pinpoint targets and/or boss characters. On finishing this first level, Kurt
gets captured, so you must progress through subsequent levels as either Max
The Wonder Dog or Dr. Hawkins (more about them later).
Veteran button mashers will fail at MDK2 because every button has a
function: the right-hand buttons control character movement, and the analog
controller swings the camera around. The D-pad activates sniper mode, and,
handily enough, controls the lobbing of grenades and such outside of sniper
The Max segments let you kick back and cause massive carnage with four guns simultaneously.
All the characters control the same, Turok style. That is definitely a "good"
because it allows the player to focus on mastering the individual elements
that make each character unique. As you might guess, these same unique elements make each
character well-suited to the levels he must battle through.
First of all, Kurt makes good use of his suit to zip around, kill bosses, and
solve puzzles. He is a wonderful mixture of speed, agility, and firepower.
However, heíd be totally lost without that sniper scope.
Next, Max makes McGruff look like a wiener dog. He can grab a weapon in each hand err, paw, and use
them all simultaneously, making him the canine equivalent of a gatling gun. Also, for short periods of time he can "go rocketeer" on
the bad guys by using a jet pack (thoughtfully provided by Dr. Hawkins). Watch
out, though; fuel is in short supply and must be recharged between uses.
Lastly, Dr. Hawkins is sort of like a cross between The Absent-Minded
Professor and MacGyver. Without giving away too much of the plot, he is able
to negotiate past aliens, roadblocks, and other challenges by combining
various acquired items into new, more useful objects. For instance, by combining
his own Keds with magnets and a roll of tape, *voila*, you get magnetic boots
for walking around on the outside of a spaceship. Pretty nifty, but
believe me, the combinations arenít always even this intuitive.
This is a great game, but no game
is perfect. MDK2 does have its faults, and most of them are spawned from the fact that the game
is so damned difficult to complete.
For starters, you really have to think like an alien to play MDK2. That is,
you have to be able to use every Dreamcast button in the right manner,
sometimes simultaneously, all without pausing to consider what button to
push for even a nanosecond. The game seems to use every button and
combination of button to do something thatís really very important. And
nearly every button can have a different function depending on what mode youíre in;
that is, in sniper mode, out of it, etc.
Considering he's a scientist, Dr. Hawkins sure has to jump around a lot.
MDK2 is very true to its platform roots, which is good. However, the game
takes platform hi-jinks to a new level. Some of the split-second decisions
can be measured in heartbeats, and a micrometer should have been included with
the game so that the distances between the game's many ledges could be
measured prior to the inevitable jump. In fact, because of the way his levels are
designed, Dr. Hawkins and the "long fall to your death" quickly become bosom
Exacerbating the difficulty
issue is that save points are pretty darned scarce in this game, especially
after extremely challenging areas.
You can become good at playing MDK2 pretty quickly, but good just ainít good
enough if you hope to finish the game from stem to stern. Youíve got to be
360 degree, 24/7 seamlessly good, and then youíve still got to have a
little luck on your side, mostly in seeing where the Bioware guys are going
with their puzzle elements. Most casual videogamers arenít going to have that kind of skill or luck.
Patience and determination will be their only refuge. Of course, the veteran
gamer will just take a Visene break at game hour 80, crack a new six pack
of Red Bull, and keep on slogginí.
The Final Word
Although it has no female characters (Iím only guessing here that none of the
aliens are female, of course!), MDK2 is as close as it gets to sex in a box
for hardcore gamers. Without drawing too many parallels between sex and
MDK2, letís just say: 1) itís easy to learn, but hard to master; 2) itís
wonderfully addictive; 3) you only get out of it what you put into it, and 4)
humor (or secrecy) is the best way to cover your own inadequacies.
All right, all right... that may just qualify as too much information. Why
are you still here? Go buy MDK2.
Genre: 3D Platform
Highs: Fantastic graphics and animations, cool puzzles, great control.
Lows: So difficult to complete youíll break down and cry (especially if you
forget to put the VMU in before playing three quarters of the way through).
Other: 1 Player, VMU Compatible, VGA Box Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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