Reviewed: November 10, 2011
Released: September 29, 2011
Itís no secret that the gaming world is on fire right now with blockbuster after blockbuster release. Amidst all the action I still found time to take an enjoyable trip back to my earlier gaming days for a look at the oddly addictive remastered version of MDK2 HD for PC. The title originally released way back in 2000 on Dreamcast and PC with BioWare, yes that one, taking over the reins to produce a highly addictive sequel featuring three of the most unusual characters to grace my PC at the time. |
MDK2 HD stays with the BioWare family, sort of, as it is brought back with high-def textures and models by some of the same people that created the original. It also received a remastered score and a complete graphics engine overhaul by the aptly named studio, Overhaul Games and released exclusively by digital distributor Beamdog.
For those that are wondering what kind of a name MDK2 stands for then youíve just been added to the list of everyone thatís asked that in over 10 years. It is commonly still thought to stand for ďMurder-Death-KillĒ, after the movie Demolition Man. The real meaning is still up for grabs though the more anti-violent option is that it stands for the main characters Max, Dr. Hawkins and Kurt. Whatever you choose MDK2 HD is an awesome fast paced third person shooter.
Unlike its predecessor, MDK2 HD allows you to play as all three characters from MDK instead of just Kurt. Each has their own distinct play style though the core mechanics such as platforming remains the same throughout. The controls are pretty fluid for the most part with the standard keyboard and mouse setup. When playing as Kurt I was always mixing up the jump button (right mouse button) with the sniper mode button (space bar) though. But thanks to a fully customizable control scheme you can tailor it to your liking. You can use a gamepad as well though it takes an initial setup as there is no preset configuration for them.
Kurtís gameplay focuses mainly on using a single gun arm, grenades and items such as an inflatable decoy to help dispatch his enemies. The sniper mode I mentioned before is Kurtís main resource in taking out distant enemies like turrets and activating the many switches in the form of blue orbs that allow you to progress though the story. Kurt can also us several different ammo types to solve his every problem suck as the sniper homing shell to take out annoying alien planes. He also has his otherworldly Coil suit that allows him to glide and ride up air chutes to travel through the levels.
Kurtís gameplay drastically differs from that of Dr. Hawkins. The eccentric doctor has little in the way of defense and firepower when going up against enemies. His levels are more like an adventure title where he combines items he finds to defeat his enemies and even help him navigate the levels. One of my favorite combinations is a nuclear toaster and bread. Itís over the top funny and awesome at the same time.
The real fun of MDK2 HD isnít playing Kurt like you might think but rather Max. Max is a six armed, robotic, cigar smoking dog that can go to town on his enemies with a gun for each of his four arms. You can use pistols, a guided rocket launcher and a shotgun in true run and gun fashion. His opening level has him hoping in a rocket and avoiding asteroids in a 2D side-scrolling style gameplay until you crash into the enemy ship and start taking out farting aliens that were surely the inspiration behind Haloís love to kill Grunts. He easily has the best job of the playable characters and is the most enjoyable to play.
Itís been a long time since Iíve played the original 2000 version but MDK2 HDís remastered look is definitely better particularly in most of the character models especially that of our heroes. Kurtís tripped out iconic suit looks so much better in HD and his sniper mode features a cleaner presentation. The levels look good with their new textures but MDK2 HD still has a retro look in the actual level designs that give it a dated look. Despite the aged look I always do like the colorful tones mixed with an almost Geiger style environment. I also still enjoy looking at the enemies from a distance with your sniper mode and see them mock you in HD.
I love the new remastered rock themed score as you're shooting your way through enemies and it complements the fast paced nature of MDK2. The voice acting, when you get to hear it, is comical and doesnít seem to take itself too seriously though I noticed it is a bit overpowered by the music sometimes. The farting aliens run and make yelling noises between farts that are hilarious and by the time you meet the giant alien with sunglasses you know that things are only going to get better by the end of the game.
MDK2 HD is definitely an old-school experience with a new shell. The gameplay is just as fun and as difficult as I remember. The earlier enemies are fairly easy to dispatch depending on the difficulty but the bosses take real strategy to learn their patterns and take out their weak spots without taking too much damage. The other hard part of MDK2 HD can be found in its puzzles and level designs. Getting through some of the levels can be completely frustrating, even today, like trying to make your way up a shaft with a limited amount of fuel to do it.
MDK2 HD is a prime example of how a game can be challenging and a lot of fun at the same time. This is still one of the weirdest (in a good way) titles that Iíve ever played in my life, but the experience is totally worth it. If you want a good blast from the past or like the sound of a cigar smoking gun totting robotic dog, then I absolutely recommend playing MDK2 HD on PC.