Not even remotely jiggy.
The Men in Black have returned, but after this game, you’ll want to send them
back into hiding. Or maybe you’ll wish to voluntarily neutralize yourself to
forget about the woeful experiences that is Men in Black II: Alien Menace.
that we didn’t see it coming, as this is yet another ill-planned game translation
of a movie. It’s like no one listens to us when we scream and holler that games
based on movies usually suck.
The gameplay tries to transport the physics and feel of a traditional shoot
’em up into the realm of the third-person action game. It tries, but ultimately
fails. As you progress through the long and narrow track-style levels, constant
onslaughts of alien baddies will materialize onto the scene with one mission:
to white out the men in black.
The waves of enemies and their attack patterns directly reference shoot ’em
up gaming, but instead of automatic scrolling, your character is free to move
at his whim. Unfortunately, these Men in Black have two left feet. Their movements
are clumsy and awkward.
The strafing never quite feels quick enough, and the dodge roll technique
is awkward and doesn’t flow. Not only is the animation stiff, but the entire
maneuver is ineffective at avoiding the enemy’s line of fire.
There’s a small arsenal of 6 weapons divided between Jay and Kay. As you lay
waste to the droves of ET’s, weapon modules randomly appear that upgrade the
power and range of your weapon up to 6 times. If you get hit, you lose a notch
or two of your upgrade.
While that kind of punishment may work in a traditional shooter, it is unyieldingly harsh here. After you take damage, the weapon power-ups will sometimes pop out of your character, allowing a chance to recover it, but just try doing it while still managing to slip through the hailstorm of gunfire with your weak strafe and cheesy dodge.
The lock-on and charge up attack is also severely screwed up. With a classic
shooter like R-Type, you can charge
up your weapon whenever you want. And once that weapon is fully charged, you
can wait for the right moment to expel your plasma destruction.
MIB II, you can only charge when you are facing and locking onto an enemy,
which means when you are forced to run away from a herd of alien scum, you won’t
be able to ready a counter attack. But if you walk backwards while facing the
enemy, you walk too slowly.
Secondly, once you’ve fully charged your POS weapon, it fizzles out and you’re
back to square one. These things add up to create a needlessly difficult game.
It’s hard for all the wrong reasons – bad design and control. It’s more frustrating
than fun, especially when you consider the scant number of continues points
and the number of times you will be forced to replay the same areas.
The character models look nothing like their movie or animated series counterparts
– Jay and Kay look like they’ve slipped into the black suit after not showering
for a month. At least the environment detail work looks good, with touches like
the cityscape of New York’s harbor replete with the Statue of Liberty. And at
least the alien materialization effects look pretty snazzy.
Musically, MIB II is like nails on a chalkboard. This is the worst
video game music my poor deflowered ears have had to suffer through in a VERY
long time. Retched. The sound effects are decent, but the voices are decidedly
poor attempts at recreating Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones.
Though the idea of incorporating shoot ’em up stylings into a third-person
action game is conceptually worthwhile, the execution falls flat on its head.
The characters lack the mobility to face the alien menace and the game is unforgiving
in its approach. Men in Black II is way off track and should be left
on store racks.