M.A.X. 2 offered little that was new at the time of its release. It is a standard collect the resources, build the units, send them after the enemy affair. It is a well-designed and fun game, but compared to other games such as Total Annihilation and Starcraft, it has a stale flavor.
Most of the unit types are fairly standard for real-time strategy games, there are a few alien units that have different abilities, but for the most part, the alien units are made different by coloring them green and giving them different names.
There are some innovations, like spycams which allow you to monitor certain map locations or units. The main thing that sets this game apart from other real-time strategy games is the ability to pause the game and still issue orders to units, or even to play completely turn-based. Turn-based play is somewhat slow and dull compared to real-time mode and does not offer the strategic options of other turn-based games. Real-time mode makes for a much faster game, and with the ability to pause the game and still build units and
The unit artwork is particularly ugly and distinguishing the different unit types can be difficult. The option to have unit names printed above units goes some way to negating this, but the screen can start to look cluttered.
The multiplayer support is good, and victory conditions can be customized, allowing for things like capture the flag. A simple to use scenario editor is included, but unfortunately it does not allow the player to build their own maps.
M.A.X. 2 suffers from a general blandness. There are no cut-scenes between missions and there is no real storyline, you are essentially just told to go out there and destroy the enemy. It is a game worth checking out if you are a real fan of the genre, but there are better games available.
Graphics: Unit artwork is poor
Sound: Nothing special
Enjoyment: Fun if you like real-time strategy games, but lacks innovation.
Replay Value: Scenario editor allows players to create their own missions
M.A.X.2 is the latest in real-time and turn-based strategy games. An interesting mix between the Final Fantasy series and the Command & Conquer series, M.A.X.2 provides the best of both combat models, dynamic unit morale, and an impressive catalog of units.
I read the manual that came with M.A.X.2 very carefully and was not able to find a coherent story, but rather tidbits of a story that are mentioned whenever appropriate. The book provided enough information for the player to know that there is a federation of alien races called Concord, humans are attempting to become Concord members by merging their DNA with the DNA of Concord races, and there is an enemy race called the Sheevat.
M.A.X.2 uses the standard, easy to use, InstallShield system, and does not require the player to configure it for individual systems. M.A.X.2 includes some minor improvements over features of other games in its genre. M.A.X.2 provides the player with a "SpyCam" for booking locations on the main map and displaying them in a secondary window at variable levels of zoom. M.A.X.2's artificial intelligence engine is well designed and comparable to Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft.
The graphics in M.A.X.2 are just under the borderline of its genre averages. The effect graphics (explosions, building construction, etc.) in StarCraft (released in 1997) far surpass M.A.X.2's claim. The terrain graphics in M.A.X.2 are fairly comparable to those in StarCraft and the Command & Conquer series by Westwood Studios, however.
Some sound effects in M.A.X.2 are much better than its counterparts'. The units in M.A.X.2 respond to player commands with different levels of confidence depending on the unit's current hit point status, and each unit gives fair warning before being destroyed. I found this to be a great deal more useful than say when Command & Conquer: Red Alert announces: "Unit lost." Shooting and movement sounds in M.A.X.2 are comparable to its counterparts'.
Gameplay in M.A.X.2 is about average. Rubber band selecting is kind of inconsistent in that units are not always selected as intended, otherwise the general interfacing closely resembles that of most other real-time strategy game.
Interplay really had a good game in the making, but they did not follow through well. I was really disappointed in the lack of a developed story. 75% of the fun is working through a story. A good story provides distinct goals making the game more coherent and interesting. The game is ok for people who are just getting in to the real-time strategy scene, but it does not live up to its potential.
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