Overhaul Games (HD)
|Composer(s)||Jesper Kyd, Albert Olson, Raymond Watts|
|Genre(s)||Third-person shooter, action-adventure|
|Distribution||Optical disc, digital distribution|
Developed primarily on the Dreamcast using BioWare's Omen Engine, MDK2 was originally released for the Dreamcast in March 2000, with a Windows version following in May. In March 2001, the game was revised and released for the PlayStation 2 as MDK 2: Armageddon. The main difference between the Windows/PlayStation 2 versions and the Dreamcast version is the ability to select the difficulty level.
A remake of the game for Wii, developed by Beamdog, was released via WiiWare on May 9, 2011, and a high-definition remastered version, developed by Overhaul Games, was released for the PC, called MDK2 HD. This version features new 3D models, textures and music, and was released for download via Beamdog on October 12, 2011 and via Steam on July 30, 2012.
Like the original game, MDK2 features three protagonists; Kurt Hectic, a janitor and reluctant hero; Max, a mechanical six-legged dog; and Doctor Fluke Hawkins, Max's creator and all-round eccentric scientist. Unlike in the first game, however, in MDK2, all three characters are playable, with each delivering a significantly different gameplay experience.
- Kurt Hectic
Kurt, the only playable character in MDK, is a janitor working for Dr. Fluke Hawkins. He would prefer to live a peaceful life, but when an alien invasion threatens Earth, Hawkins presses Kurt into action. Kurt's levels play very similarly to the previous game, with the emphasis on his coil suit and ribbon parachute, which allows him to glide through the air and catch updrafts. His levels often focus on his built-in sniper scope, which allows him to launch projectiles at foes, both directly and indirectly, using the various sniper mortar and rifle options. Kurt's puzzles often involve complex sniper shots where he must strike "lock-balls" to proceed.
Max is a robotic six-legged dog who prefers direct short-range firepower over Kurt's preference for sniping from a distance. Max stands on his two back legs and can equip and shoot up to four guns at once. He is also able to wear a jet pack. His levels tend to focus on gunfighting rather than puzzle solving.
- Dr. Fluke Hawkins
Dr. Hawkins is an eccentric scientist, who has voluntarily exiled himself from Earth, and now lives aboard his dog-shaped spaceship, the Jim Dandy. A frail old man, he prefers to send Kurt and Max into dangerous situations, but during the game, he is repeatedly forced to go to their rescue himself. His levels focus on puzzle solving, with little in the way of combat. Most of his gameplay revolves around combining objects to create new objects, which in turn allow him to proceed. There is some minimal combat, where his main weapon is an atomic toaster, which propels radioactive toast. He is also able to drink plutonium, which turns him into a Mr Hyde/Hulk style creature, capable of causing great damage, and taking considerable punishment.
The game begins moments after the conclusion of MDK, with Kurt, Max, and Doctor Hawkins celebrating their victory over Gunther Glut, the antagonist of the first game. However, in the midst of their celebrations, they discover there is one remaining minecrawler in Edmonton, Canada. Kurt is dispatched to destroy it, but after its destruction, as he awaits transport back to the Jim Dandy, he is taken captive by a massive alien named Shwang Shwing. Max heads to Shwang's ship, but he too is taken prisoner, forcing Doctor Hawkins to come to their aid.
After a series of rescue missions in which one protagonist saves another only to be caught himself, all three find themselves on Shwang Shwing's home world, Swizzle Firma, where they learn that it is the ruler of Swizzle Firma, Emperor Zizzy Ballooba, who was behind the attacks on Earth in the previous game. Now, Ballooba plans to launch a doomsday device at Earth which will obliterate the entire planet. Having defeated Swang, the three protagonists invade the Ballooba's castle. Ballooba admits to the heroes that he's only trying to destroy Earth for his own amusement, because, since he figured out space and time, he has become bored. A battle ensues between the three heroes and Ballooba, with the heroes emerging victorious.
The ending sequence depends on which character the player chose for the final battle. Kurt resumes his duties as janitor of the Jim Dandy, perturbed by the idea of being a celebrity. Max becomes the new emperor of Swizzle Firma, forming an interplanetary alliance with Earth. Doctor Hawkins is welcomed back to Earth, no longer shunned by his peers, and gets to work on his lifelong ambition - creating a robot zombie army.
Soundtrack and disc bonuses
Unlike Todd Dennis' symphonic soundtrack, produced by Tommy Tallarico, for the original MDK, the MDK2 soundtrack is considerably more modern. Composed by Jesper Kyd, Albert Olson, and Raymond Watts of the band PIG, most of music is electronica; specifically big beat, breakbeat, and drum and bass.
The Dreamcast edition of the game allows the player to access all the music tracks, including the sound effect background tracks, using the Dreamcast CD player. There is also a folder of concept art on the Dreamcast version, available when read by a PC.
Ports and re-releases
On June 24, 2010, Interplay announced that it was planning to release MDK2 for the Wii platform through its WiiWare service. The game was developed by Beamdog, which had been founded by ex-members of BioWare, and also functions as a digital distribution site, much like Steam. The WiiWare version features slightly updated graphics, and revamped gameplay, with each character's style of play more differentiated from the others. The game can be controlled with the Wii Remote and Wii Nunchuk. It was released on May 9, 2011.
Overhaul Games, a division of Beamdog, developed a HD remastered version of MDK2 for Microsoft Windows, featuring a complete overhaul of the game engine, high-definition models and textures, and remastered music tracks. This game also features the difficulty tweaks from the PC/PS2 and WiiWare versions. MDK2 HD was originally released exclusively on Beamdog on October 12, 2011, and was later released on Steam on July 30, 2012.
On November 13, 2007, GameSpot reported that Interplay had announced it will restart its in-house development studio, with plans to develop an MDK sequel, if financing can be secured. GameSpot stated that among the projects Interplay wished to pursue were sequels to Earthworm Jim, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, Descent, and MDK. In 2008, Interplay confirmed a two-pronged growth strategy which would see the company leveraging its portfolio of gaming properties to create sequels. Among those mentioned was the possible MDK sequel.
The original MDK2 received mainly positive reviews, as did the Wii port. The HD version received a more mixed response. The Dreamcast version holds an aggregate score of 88.08% on GameRankings, based on twenty-six reviews. The PC version holds a score of 86.31%, based on twenty-nine reviews. The PlayStation 2 version holds a score of 80.99%, based on thirty-five reviews. The Wii version holds a score of 80.00%, based on four reviews. The HD version holds a score of 71.00%, based on five reviews. On Metacritic, the PC version holds an aggregate score of 83 out of 100, based on twenty-three reviews, and the HD version holds a score of 73 out of 100, based on five reviews.
Eurogamer scored the PC version 9 out of 10, praising the game's fidelity to the original but also lauding its willingness to try new things and expand on the gameplay of its predecessor. They concluded, "Reinvigorate your childhood fantasies of living in a cartoon and pick up MDK2 - there ain't much better in the genre."
Game Revolution's Duke Ferris scored the Dreamcast version a B+ (the site had given the original MDK an A-). He praised the graphics, but was heavily critical of the difficulty level and the repetitiveness of some of the platforming sections. He concluded that "the non-frustrating times in MDK 2 are simply tons of fun. The game is genuinely funny, has great voices and a terrific comic book flair."
GameSpot reviewed all three original versions; Dreamcast, PC and PlayStation 2, scoring them 8.3, 7.8 and 7.6 respectively. Ben Stahl called the Dreamcast version "a sizable improvement over the original game," arguing that "MDK 2 is a solid shooter with one of the most creative play mechanics to appear in any game thus far." Although he was critical of the difficulty and the platforming sections, he called the game "a worthwhile experience. The offbeat humor and silly aspects enhance the great storyline and give the game a very likeable nature while the different game mechanics keep MDK 2 from being a mundane shooter. The graphics and sound are truly excellent, making MDK 2 one of the best-looking and best-sounding Dreamcast games yet." Erik Wolpaw was also impressed with the PC version, saying "MDK 2 is everything you'd want in a sequel. It improves on the original's technology and expands its gameplay without losing the off-kilter sense of humor that helped make MDK so unique." He also praised the addition of a "save anywhere" feature and the fact that the player now had a choice of difficulties. Stahl called the PS2 version "a more rewarding and less frustrating version of what was an excellent Dreamcast game." He was critical of the absence of the "save anywhere" feature from the PC version and found some of the level design to be repetitive, lamenting that "It's a bit disappointing that the year of development time between the Dreamcast and the PS2 versions of MDK2 wasn't put to better use in MDK 2: Armageddon. While the difficulty issues have been addressed to some extent, there are still areas that need work."
IGN also reviewed all three original releases, scoring them 9.4 (Dreamcast), 8.3 (PC) and 8.7 (PlayStation 2). Of the Dreamcast version, Brandon Justice said the game featured "a breath-taking combination of killer artwork and creative level design that always seems to keep your palms sweating." Of the level design he said, "The environments on which [the textures] rest are so unique, so alien in their creation and implementation that I can't help but smile at Bioware's grasp of not only what makes a game visually memorable, but at how easily they seem to have taken hold of this relatively new medium and conveyed things that have yet to truly make sense in the 3rd dimension." He enthused that "MDK2 is this generation's best example of a pure action shooter, and for that matter, it goes down in my book as one of the genre's most complete titles to date. Nearly every aspect of Bioware's sensational sequel shines in a way that sheds a painfully revealing light on their competitors' glaring inadequacies." Stephen Butts called the PC version "one of the best console experiences on the PC in a while." He praised the controls, but criticized the difficulty and the platforming sections, concluding that "When a game comes out for the PC that manages to retain all the simplicity and energy of its console brother, then you owe it yourself to give it a try. MDK 2 is definitely such a game." Of the PlayStation 2 version, Chris Carle felt the graphics weren't as good as the Dreamcast version, but that the lighting effects were improved. He praised the sound, controls and level design, arguing that "MDK 2: Armageddon is a great action title that is certainly worth twenty hours of your time. A great story, fast-paced adventure and a good deal of challenge make up for the fact that this game could (and did) look a lot better on the Dreamcast. Still, there is enough humor and fun here to warrant a purchase."
Nintendo Life 's Jon Wahlgren scored the Wii version 8 out of 10, criticizing it for occasionally faulty audio and overly difficult gameplay, but praising the game's variety and sense of humour, concluding that "MDK2 is at its best when it goes nuts with large, crazy enemies and bullets galore through its strange environments, but not so much when it comes to puzzle-solving or platforming. If you can put up with or simply muscle through these very weak sections then you'll find MDK2 a great blast from the past." Nintendo World Report's Jared Rosenberg scored it 8.5 out of 10, praising the controls but criticizing the graphics. He argued that "MDK2 is a well-designed action platformer that will take quite a bit of time to get through its 10 levels. Varied play mechanics keep the shooter fresh and the humorous story should occasionally put a smile on your face. It can be challenging and at times frustrating, but overall, it is a fun romp."
Of the HD version, Game Vortex' Chris Meyer praised the game as it existed prior to the overhaul, but was skeptical of whether or not the graphical update was worth the effort; "MDK2 HD is as fun and amusing as it ever was, but even with the graphical overhaul, it shows its age. I can't see too many gamers who didn't play the game back on its first release wanting to pick this title up, but for those who remember it fondly, the HD version isn't a bad purchase." IncGamers' Paul Younger had a similar reaction, feeling the game didn't offer a great deal when compared to other 2011 games; "If you're interested in playing through a game from back when games were still complete and total bastards, updated and tweaked so it looks a bit nicer and runs a bit smoother, then you should probably do so. It's no longer as astonishing as it once was, but MDK2 HD is a solid update to a solid platform/shooter/puzzler."
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