MDK 2 avoids being sucked into obscurity as yet another clone by virtue of its unique gameplay and its light-hearted, tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek presentation. While it isn't a stellar, must-see game, it is very exciting and a joy to play. With an innovative interface that allows the game to switch between three distinct and unique characters and modes of gameplay, MDK 2 provided enough of a hook to keep me coming back repeatedly.
The controls are well documented and the interface very clean, simple and efficient. MDK 2 bucks the trend toward more and more complex interfaces with its simple design. Although playing as Dr. Hawkins can, at times, become a bit convoluted and hectic, the interface performs well overall.
The three varieties of gameplay encountered are unique and remain fresh throughout the game. Kurt Hectic, with his famed sniper mode, is forced to take all sorts of trick shots with a variety of special loads for the rifle, such as the hilarious bouncing bullet and the oft-useful sniper mortar. Another recurring theme in Hectic's gameplay involves utilizing the coil suit's Ribbon Chute to glide around while shooting stuff up.
Now, as a player, jumping puzzles usually irritate me to no end because they imply a lack of thought on behalf of the designers; those found in MDK2, however, are rarely aggravating. They are, for the most part, simple to perform and the gliding/shooting aspects from the air add some flair to the jumping puzzles.
Max is by far the most fun for me to play. I suppose something about a cyborg, six-limbed, gun-toting, cigar-chomping, trash-talking doggie just appeals to me. He can run and gun with four weapons simultaneously and watching him pull New York reloads while blasting down hordes of alien scum is entertaining, too. Keeping him constantly supplied and equipped with weaponry is a challenge in and of itself.
I found the good Dr. Hawkins somewhat less interesting to play, as most of the puzzles involve a fairly mundane routine. Search every last nook and cranny for items; attempt to combine new items with others as well as every old item until you get something interesting; use interesting items to get past aliens/through locked door/and so forth. Repeat process. For a little while, playing as the doctor is fun just because of the bizarre things you create (the atomic toaster is one of my favorites) but, unfortunately, it loses its luster after a time.
The story is a bit contrived but, then again, it doesn't take itself seriously -- a good design feature. The voice acting during cut scenes varies from first-rate, tongue-in-cheek narration to bored B-movie actor quality. It is, however, interesting and humorous enough to warrant continuous play, though, which is the main objective.
The graphics are top-notch and it runs like a charm on my Pentium II 450 and Matrox G400, even with all the graphics options enabled -- three cheers to BioWare for ironing out the code and doing a great job of optimizing the engine. Sound, on the other hand, is lackluster and somewhat wanting. The nondescript aural aspect is hardly memorable and anything halfway decent in this area would have added more icing on this already tasty piece of cake.
So, Hectic, Max and Hawkins are waiting -- the aliens are back and the world needs saving once again! Perhaps when you're done this time, you can get that well-earned vacation!
Graphics: The many environments in which you do battle with the aliens are well done and nicely lit. The character models are exceptional and smooth animations round out some very nice work in this department.
Sound: The sound effects themselves aren't bad but certainly not memorable. The music is good but nothing more. Voice acting is hit-and-miss, sometimes really good, sometimes completely overblown.
Enjoyment: I enjoyed this game a great deal. While it doesn't rank among the best games I have played, it was certainly one of the better ones. Its sense of humor is bizarre enough to run with my tastes.
Replay Value: It is an action/adventure and nothing changes, story-wise, so you won't be gaining much by replaying it.
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