It Takes Three To Make A Thing Go Right.
The number three has magical properties. Three diamonds can win the jackpot, three amigos can save the day, it takes three licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, and of course three editors can wreck shop on the best gaming site in town. Three is also the perfect number for an elite force that could save the world! Unfortunately the Father, Son and Holy Ghost weren't available for this game, so we're left with a heroic janitor, a mad scientist and an oversized AIBO with a passion for guns.
Welcome to MDK2: Armageddon, brought to us by the magic number three and, of course, Interplay. When the original MDK2 made its debut on the Dreamcast around this time last year, it quickly became one of the coolest (and hardest) action titles in town. Many enjoyed its awesome gameplay, suave humor and slick graphics.
They also endured the largest headache in the world due to horrendous difficulty. So now the game has landed on the PS2. Let's find out how the transformation went.
Armageddon challenges players to take on three separate hero identities. You'll wreak havoc on alien foes as Kurt, the world's most average butt-kicking janitor, Doc Hawkins, the misunderstood man of science, and Max, his greatest canine creation. Each of these three identities has his own style of gameplay quite different from the rest.
As Kurt, you'll make use of the super-cool coil suit. It has a built-in sniper helmet, a snazzy ribbon parachute and doubles as formalwear for those special occasions. While sniping, you'll find an amazing level of zoom that brings the action up close and personal. With a weapon this precise, you could probably shoot the fleas off a dog's back from a mile away.
As Max, you'll blow hordes of enemies away with a weapon in each of your four hands. Levels with Max involve plenty of destruction, giving you your daily dose of shoot 'em up action. Four guns are better than one!
Finally, as the good doctor, you'll put your enormous brain to use creating bizarre items like an atomic toaster and solving puzzles from beyond the outer limits of the universe. The world is counting on you, so try not to blow it up.
Armageddon is essentially the same as the original DC version of MDK2 with a few minor adjustments. Most notable is the adjustable difficulty. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, players can now choose how hard they want the game to be. One of the things that held back the original was the insane level of difficulty. I love a good challenge as much as the next guy, but when you've fought the same boss, tried the same puzzle, or failed to jump that gap a bazillion times without a glimmer of success, things go from fun to frustrating at the speed of light. The adjustability really helps.
In-game hints also are provided to help ease the pain. Some of the more difficult or abstract puzzles are now graced with small "pointers" that lead you in the right direction.
The problem of difficult level design still stands, though. With so many instances of platform jumping, there are bound to be times when you'll just get stuck repeating the same difficult jumps over and over. There's simply no way to make platform jumping any easier. At least now the enemies won't chew you up so quickly in the process.
Another welcome addition to Armageddon is the control options. With the PS2 controller's dual analog sticks, there are even more ways to handle the heroes. The controls aren't fully customizable, but there are enough choices for even the most discriminating action hero.
Outside of difficulty and control, nothing new has been added to Armageddon. It still has top of the line voice actors and wacky humor to keep you entertained. It also retains the high graphical quality of the Dreamcast version with a blazing framerate and decent camera.
I would definitely recommend MDK2: Armageddon to anyone who hasn't played the Dreamcast version. Its mix of brains and brawn come together for some truly fun gameplay. But for a game that's a year old, it would have been nice to see a little something extra.