Preview - a souped-up version of the PC extravaganza makes its way onto the next generation's shores
Hot around the collar
It's little surprise then that after solid performances on both the PC and Dreamcast sequel developers BioWare are now opting to develop an enhanced version for the PlayStation 2: MDK2 Armageddon. Unlike the Dreamcast version, Armageddon isn't simply a like-for-like port from PC to console; although it retains all of the original's levels, weapons and enemies, it's been built again form the ground up, with new difficulty settings, Dual Shock enhancements and a smoother control system. Another addition is a helping hand that offers hints when it's quite clear that you have been utterly flummoxed by a puzzle. In an effort also to make the game more approachable to a variety of action gamers, lots of different control configurations will be available, based on the various setups one can concoct on the Dual Shock controller. Elsewhere, the visuals will remain largely the same, although the PS2's graphics engine will allow for richer textures and very little frame loss through the sprawling outdoor sections of the game; no mean feat, that. The quirky characters of the original return, with Max, Dr. Fluke Hawkins and Kurt returning to continue their exploits. In case you missed it, the game invites you to take control of each one of them in different sections, and thanks to their differing weapons and style of movement, the action is quite varied.
Max, if you remember is something of a pyromaniac - in order to dispatch the hordes of enemies he encounters, he uses various weapons (one assigned to each hand) and a lot of explosives. Doctor Hawkins has lots of gadgets at his disposal too, and Kurt is back with things like the Black Hole Bomb and of course his trusty Sniper Rifle. MDK was of course the first game to introduce a rifle of this ilk, and it's still one of the best. With the added benefit of the Dual Shock analog controller, the accuracy with which one can wield the thing will no doubt be incredible. As I said, the PS2 version will include all of the original levels (10 massive, sprawling levels each taking well over an hour to complete - sometimes more), and none will remain untouched. Alterations and enhancements a-plenty are expected. One of the best things about the PC version was the way that although each of the characters had their limitations, you never felt that their individual levels had been crafted especially for them, as has been seen in some other titles. According to Interplay, BioWare are nearing completion of Armageddon, and we should see the American release at least within the next few months. According to the developer, we ought to watch this space.
MDK2 was a fantastic game to start with - it got raves reviews here and elsewhere, and it looks as though PS2 owners will fare even better than their Dreamcast and PC counterparts. It's a shame that the game won't be out for Christmas, but as with all good things, those who wait will reap the benefits.