Max, Doc and Kurt’s excellent adventure.
With the original MDK, Shiny managed to create an intense and bizarre third person 3D action game. It was new, different, incredibly entertaining, and displayed the sort of quirkiness youâ€™d expect from the guys who created Earthworm Jim. While it was too short, itâ€™s still considered a classic with good reason. And here comes the sequel, this time made by BioWare, being every bit as entertaining and funny as the first game.
MDK 2 pays almost perfect homage to the storyline, picking up mere moments after the first game leaves off. Having thwarted the evil city destroying aliens from another dimension in the first game, reluctant hero and former janitor Kurt Hectic, and friendsâ€”his employer, Doctor Hawkins, and robot dog, Maxâ€”are toasting their success in the Doctorâ€™s space station when, suddenly, the aliens return to smash more cities of Earth. Once more, Kurt is begrudgingly sent down to deal with the problem.
Unlike the original MDK, Max and Doc Hawkins play a larger role in the gameplay this time around. You will get to take a turn controlling each of the main characters; the levels rotate between the three of them, giving each area a different feel and a unique flavor. MDK 2 does its best to bring the old and new together in a cohesive mesh. Levels are huge and the obstacles you face are almost always clever, taking full advantage of how different each character plays.
Max is the action hero of MDK 2, and his levels focus primarily on wall-to-wall shooting. The four-armed dog can hold a gun in each hand while puffing away at his cigar, and throughout the game you can equip the pooch with Uzis, Chainguns or even the rare Rocket Launcher. Most of Maxâ€™s puzzles revolve around either jumping or blowing things apart, and the game gets even more entertaining when you locate the re-usable jetpack.
While Max is an all-out killing machine, Kurt plays like a surgical instrument. He can snipe aliens using a bunch of swanky ammunition – including grenade rounds that bounce around corners – or just let loose with his hand-mounted chaingun upclose. Most of the puzzles that you will encounter on his levels require you to become very proficient at quickly sniping targets as well as using Kurt’s awesome gliding capability.
Doc’s levels are centered around item-based puzzles. The mad scientist can hold an object in each hand, and combine them (when possible) to yield all manner of odd doohickeys. Combine some pipes, duct tape and a dryer, for example, and you have a useful leaf blower. Give the man some alcohol and some dirty towels, however, and he creates a Molotov Cocktail. By far the most difficult of levels are played as Doc Hawkins, not in the least because the man’s frail and health pickups are rare.
Never A Dull Moment
Featuring a grand total of 10 levels, MDK 2 also has the same problem with longevity that the original had. Most players can zip through them, though the levels are very cool. Whether you’re shooting aliens with Max on the beat of a killer soundtrack or figuring out how to diffuse a bomb with Doc Hawkins, MDK 2 rarely becomes boring. If there’s any legitimate criticism to throw around, it’s the fact that the Hawkins levels are too tough when contrasted to the pitifully easy Kurt and Max levels. On the technical side I didn’t have any problems on my vintage PC, though on a modern computer I had to force Vertical Refresh to ‘Always On’ to remove a low framerate bug.
These quibbles aside, MDK 2 in line with the roots of its forerunner. The original MDK was meant to take the beloved side-scrolling platform game into the realm of the 3D, which it did superbly. The sequel does so as well, and as a result it feels and acts differently than most other third person games. At times you canâ€™t help but wish the puzzles were less linear, however.
System Requirements: Pentium II 200 MHz, 24 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, Win95
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