MDK 2 HD PC Game Review
Old games are like a comfortable pair of shoes that have faded over the years. Sometimes you want to take them out, polish them up and take them for spin. This is what Overhaul Games has done with the 2000 FPS classic MDK 2, a goofy, definitely retro piece of gaming history that’s a simple yet refreshing shooter diversion, even after more than a decade.
MDK 2 HD is the sequel to Shiny’s 1997 sci-fi shooter MDK (reportedly an abbreviation of “Murder Death Kill,” which is the most threatening thing about the entire game). MDK 2 follows the continuing adventures of mad scientist Dr. Fluke Hawkins; Kurt Hectic, his superhero janitor; and Max, Hawkins’ six-legged, cigar-smoking robotic dog. The game opens with a comic-book cutscene that catches you up on the action from their previous outing. The heroic trio are just about to toast their victory when the Earth comes under attack yet again, this time by alien forces under the command of a giant blue creature named Shwang Shwing. Your job in the next eight to 10 hours is fairly straightforward: defeat the invaders and save the Earth.
MDK 2 HD is first-person shooting stripped down to the skivvies. No regenerating health. No cover mechanics. No achievements or trophies. You don’t even get a targeting reticule unless you’re in sniper mode. It’s just you, your weapon of choice (some of them silly, others very effective) and your circle-strafing skills as you power your way through 10 levels of primary-colored mayhem. You get to play as all three heroes, alternating between them for the first nine levels, then choosing one of them to progress to the final boss battle.
Each character has his own specialty. Hectic has a chaingun attached to his arm that never runs out of ammo, he can shift into sniper mode for long-distance attacks, and he wears a special suit that sprouts coils that allow him to drift upwards with any drafts he might find. Max is the tank; he can quad-wield Uzis, gatling guns, shotguns and magnums, and he gets a jetpack. Playing as Hawkins means solving puzzles, platforming, and combining objects to make useful items (mostly explosives and weapons, including a toaster that fires exploding baked goods such as white bread, baguettes and pumpernickel). The HUD is designed so that all functions you need are always on the screen; you use the mouse wheel to select weapons or items on the fly. And your friend the Quick Save button is also available to use at any time, and you should make frequent use of it; sometimes the game auto-saves at very inopportune times, such as while you’re plunging uncontrollably to your death or trapped with only one health point available.
I was a frequent arcade visitor in my youth, back when all you needed was a joystick, one fire button and a pocketful of quarters to get a few hours of gaming goodness. MDK 2 HD takes us back to a similar time in the history of gaming, when all you needed to do to survive was shoot straight and stay alive. It’s short (experienced shooter fans will finish it in two sittings, even on the “Jinkies” difficulty setting) and it still carries the same flaws that it had in 2000. But the variety in gameplay from one level to the next and the pleasant goofiness of the story should keep you glued to your desk chairs to find out how it all ends.