Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: July 17, 2001
Shiny Entertainment was the company that brought us the original MDK, a quirky third person shooter that strove to deliver adrenaline-charged action side by side with some belly laughs. At the time, third-person titles were just starting to take off, and MDK could easily be considered one of the pioneers of the genre. It wasn’t so much that it was completely unique, but more that it blended many aspects together into an attractive and addictively playable whole. Released for the PC and the PlayStation, the original MDK sold quite well and inspired a sequel, though some wondered when it was announced that Canadian developer Bioware, most famous for their Advanced Dungeons and Dragons based Baldur’s Gate series, would be at the helm for the sequel. Initially released for the Dreamcast, MDK 2 received warm, if not exactly glowing, reviews, and after considerable retooling time the series has now made a running jump over to the PS2 in the form of MDK 2: Armageddon.
The sequel picks up almost exactly where the first game left off, and those who missed that classic title are brought up to speed by a voice-over narration coupled with a comic book style visual recap. Basically, the story tells us of the heroic janitor named Kurt Hectic. Certainly not a man of action by nature, Hectic took a job early in his career for Dr. Fluke Hawkins, a self-described “eccentric man of science.” Hawkins’ obsession with exceedingly strange inventions left the stodgy scientific community with the impression that he was insane, and Hawkins swore to leave the Earth until his genius was recognized.
How exactly he ended up aboard a gigantic orbital lab of his own construction remains a mystery better left to the ages, but from their ship, the Jim Dandy, Hawkins and Hectic had an eagle eye view of the drama that was about to unfold in the form of an alien attack. Riding a mysterious technology called energy streams, massive alien cities called mine crawlers descended on the Earth and began strip mining whole swaths of the planet, including the mineral-rich major cities of the world. Seizing the opportunity to prove himself, Hawkins developed several new and exotic technologies, including a robotic, six-legged dog named Max, and sent Kurt into the mine crawlers to bring the invasion to a halt. Their success brings us to the beginning of MDK 2: Armageddon.
One of the most popular components of the original title was the unique suit that allowed Kurt to survive the alien’s attacks. Called a coil suit, this formerly untested technology incorporated armor and a wide array of gadgets designed to assist the wearer. The first and most heavily used of these is an unlimited-ammunition chain gun that boasts a deadly quick rate of fire. For finesse situations, Kurt could reverse the chain gun and attach it to his helmet in order to activate a sniper mode. Capable of resolving targets at phenomenal ranges, the sniper rifle could fire multiple ammunition types that ranged from a standard bullet to a slow-arcing mortar. The suit also allows its wearer to release four coils from its back, which arc upwards and prove very proficient at catching the air. By using this ability, Kurt can glide through the air and even control the direction of his travel. All of these abilities follow our hero into this game, but unlike the last outing, Max and Dr. Hawkins have decided to pull together and join Kurt in the field. As such, the player will control one of these three characters in each level, and must learn to adapt to their unique abilities.