MDK 2 HD: Same old game, brand new paint job

October 29, 2011

If you played the original MDK 2, this is a carbon copy of the original with better graphics. If you haven’t played MDK 2, you’re not alone, as it is an 11-year old game that was tough to find at its release on Dreamcast and PC. So is it worth playing now? 

MDK 2 is a comic-booky game about aliens invading Earth. A good, almost mad scientist known simply as “Doc” has exiled himself into space with his janitor, Kurt, and robotic dog he develops, Max. After the invasion, this odd team is all that stands between Earth and its domination by the aliens. It is comprised of 10 long levels (which you can save during, fortunately) that you navigate in third-person perspective. Each character runs, jumps, and shoots, but the differences are large and innovative (especially for its day). The levels have enemies but most of the progression comes from mini-puzzles or challenges. The boss fights feel like real fights, but the regular enemies are mostly just annoying tasks to complete.

MDK 2 has not aged well in some regards. Someone who has played a few FPSes would like the ability to change the buttons around so that space is the jump button and right-click is the aim down the sniper rifle button. The difficult button options interface doesn’t allow switching, making us die a few times. That’s only for Kurt, but he is 3 of the 10 levels (the last is played by a character of your choosing). Every level has tedious tasks just for progression, like flying up long chutes that require you to hold down your finger the whole way (with nothing happening), find a target hidden somewhere in the room just to get the door open, or blowing through destructible environments.

Doc is the most interesting character, with the ability to combine items in creative ways by selecting quickly from items on his left hand and right. His puzzles are also the most interesting. Still, he is only 3 levels. Max’s levels are fun at first while you decide whether to use 1, 2, 3, or 4 guns in his 4 arms (all guns but one have limited ammo), but the frequent need to destroy barriers and easy enemies feels like wading through a low-level MMO cavern. In short, a grind.

And jumping! Back in the day, sections of levels in varying games had their entire difficulty based on life-and-death situations where you had to jump just right. Can you make it, or will you die? Or will you have to do it again? There is a reason this hardly exists anymore. For MDK 2, there is a save function. One quickly learns the value of simply saving for each successful jump. This stuff would have gotten old 11 years ago. It surely gets old now, and quickly.

The agonizing and crazy thing is that the writing is hilarious, and the characters are unique. Players must essentially plow through the levels just to get to the scenes. It is a reward that every player will feel is well-deserved.

Pros: Easy to pick up, humorous characters and writing, great looks and sounds, save function
Cons: Dated design, tedious enemy-killing, platform-jumping, and marker-finding, little replay value

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.