War is hell. Even more annoying though is coming home from a war to discover that one of your advisors has taken control of your kingdom, stolen your girl and started drilling holes in the ground in an attempt to raise an army of the dead. Just such a fate lies in store for Maximo, and needless to say he is somewhat miffed when he discovers these changes. Dropping in on the evil usurper Achille to exchange a few sharp words, things soon get out of hand, and in the ensuing scuffle Maximo is mortally wounded.
Death Is Not The End
Luckily for you this is just the beginning of the game. The Grim Reaper is understandably upset at the wholesale resurrection which Achille is carrying out in your kingdom, and so brings you back from the dead to put a stop to it. And yes, we're sure he appreciates the irony of this. The game itself is a third person actioneer which follows Maximo as he rampages his way around the countryside, slicing up skeletons and gathering power-ups ready to face off against Achille and rescue his beloved Sophia. There's more to it than simple hack and slash combat though, with a wide range of special attacks to uncover as you battle your way through the shambling hordes of undead. The more monsters you kill, the more new abilities Maximo gains, allowing you to customise your character over the course of the game by choosing which of these newly acquired skills he uses. Combat is a spectacular affair, especially once the special moves come into play. Maximo leaps through the air athletically, bringing his sword down on enemies with a big overhead swing or wildly slashing at them, the weapon leaving trails as it cuts and thrusts. As you unlock new skills you will be able to set your sword on fire, generate whirlwinds with your shield and unleash devestating meteor showers to lay waste to your enemies.
You'll Catch Your Death
It's not just the undead that you need to worry about either, as Achille's widespread drilling has made your entire kingdom somewhat unstable. Slabs of rock can suddenly give way beneath your feet and pitch you towards a pool of bubbling lava as you desperately leap to safety or try to reach a hidden cave uncovered by the collapse. Luckily then the controls are responsive and easy to get to grips with, and you should be able to avoid any unwanted lava baths as long as you keep your wits about you. If you do lose your footing, death can be cheated by collecting souls from certain glowing headstones, which can then be cashed in with the Grim Reaper to buy you another life. You will also find treasure chests scattered around the landscape, and these can provide you with better weapons and armour or other power-ups. Not everything is as it seems though, and like something out of Discworld chests can suddenly come to life and start chasing you around the graveyard. Indeed the whole game has a slightly tongue-in-cheek feel to it, from the bright cartoonish graphics to the way Maximo's armour drops off as he takes damage, eventually leaving him running around in his boxer shorts. Maximo might not have such a high profile as Capcom's other big PlayStation 2 action game, the soon-to-be-released Devil May Cry, but it is an amusing and highly entertaining effort. With a February release on the cards, it could prove the perfect antidote to the oh-so-serious Metal Gear Solid 2 and its interminable cutscenes.