Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2
Every so often I stop and think to myself, maybe we have seen all there is to see in the first/third-person shooter genre. Maybe there are no new ideas out there. Maybe all we're doing is treading water, simply adding shinier graphics and bigger explosions. Or maybe soon we're going to drown in a wealth of uninspired titles similar to the platform flood of the 16-bit era.
But then suddenly I perk up and think, "hey, if Half-Life can manage something new, why can't anything else". And when I mean new, I mean something so revolutionary that it's picked on and used by almost every other good game since. So here's what's new and interesting in FAKK 2 the wall-hugging move - if you push back against a wall, you can edge your way along a narrow ledge. A manoeuvre that's used about twice in the entire game.
The other vaguely interesting thing is that you can use two weapons at once. Your left and right hands can both be used to sport different firepower for both long- and short-range combat. So we've established that FAKK2 does nothing new, but that's no reason to put it down. There is at least one area where it really excels.
It looks gorgeous. And even a cynic like me came out rather impressed with some of the architecture on offer. The designers have imposed a real sense of grandeur on some levels that are worthy of praise. It's all thanks to the Quake 3 engine, of course, so there's plenty of curves - as if no one had ever drawn one before now. As for the actual interaction, well, that's a different story.
Starting off in your hometown as Julie Strain, your initial inventory consists of a pair of large breasts and a tight PVC suit, and your first task is to wander around aimlessly trying to find something to do. This wasn't helped at first by the fact that the door I needed to go through could only be opened by using a keypad at the side, while other inconsequential doors opened automatically as soon as I stepped up to them. After wasting 20 minutes on that it was time to get into the game properly and talk to the citizens of my great adventure. Of course the citizens, like all other inconsequential characters in every game ever, have just three things to say, only one of which pushes the plot forward with the kind of obviousness usually reserved for the comment, "Are you alright?" after someone's been hit by a car. And if your idea of lip-syncing is to stick your hand in a sock and move it up and down like a mouth, then this is the game for you.
After all this scene setting, something finally happens when the sinister meteors that constantly hit the shield surrounding your planet finally break through, bringing forth invaders who begin attacking the cows in the bam. And what form could this first invasion force possibly take? What could possibly serve as an introduction to the action that's to follow?
What was one of the reasons why Daikatana was so bad? Flies. That's right, Ritual has taken a leaf out of Romero's book and populated the first couple of levels with some of the most annoying creatures ever to grace the F'C. The only way to get rid of these flies is to swing your sword wildly about and spin in all directions, while trying to shoot them with your pistol. It's still inevitable that some are going to get behind you causing you to take another angry swipe at them, narrowly missing so they can do it again. Hey, never mind, though, at least the graphics look good.
After dealing with this and confronting the first boss (defeat him by blowing up the explosive material that surrounds him -great idea, huh?), it's time for a switch of location. Such a location being a large sewer filled with industrial machinery. Things do hot up in the enemy department now, with a couple more creatures to shoot at and a few more weapons to collect. Overall, the weapons are an admirable bunch. The fact that I got through nearly the whole game, using only the sword and the pistol/Uzi has absolutely no bearing on the fact that every weapon is useful, does it? Mention must go to the sword at least, which uses the same mode of attack as that seen in Jedi Knight or Soul Reaver, being that if you push a button you can hack wildly at whatever's close by. There's a combo move which can add an extra spin to things, but this is a little tricky to pull off and never seems as good as it should be.
The puzzles. Oh, the puzzles. What wondrous brain teasers have we in store? Well, if you haven't had enough of pushing buttons, pulling crates and shooting at things until they explode, you probably will when you've finished with this. Aside from this, you've got your leaping from platform to platform to look forward to as well.
After powering up your shield generator, there's the chance to defend your village from invasion before travelling on to battle along the ledges of a high cliff-face before wading through the mists of a dank swamp. It's not really fitting to call these levels inspired and even the graphics take a turn for the worst here.
Get past that and it's off to talk to what can only be described as a badly voiced Jamaican Yoda who tells you to go into four temples to complete the tasks within. The tasks being to leap from platform to platform and shoot things until they explode.
To be honest, these levels are the most impressive in terms of looks, but there's not much here that hasn't been seen at least once before. And then it's over and you're left to defeat the final boss. Astonishingly, in the last attempt of ingenuity, the developers have decided not to place your ultimate nemesis in a small open-planned arena with respawning ammo and health -actually, no, that's a lie - they have. While not exactly too easy, I seemed to reach the finale all too quickly before coming to a halt at the end. Although I had to use the quickload key after numerous failed jumping attempts.
And So On...
I could go on some more about what else we've seen before, but there's not really much point. You just want to know if it's any good. Yeah, sure it's fun, but if you've played MDK 2, Tomb Raider, or even Soul Reaver, you'll probably get a distinct sense of deja vu. If anything, it shows the way the latest episode in the Lara Croft instalment should have played and does a good job of preempting any new moves that game would care to think up next.
And, yes, the graphics may certainly be some of the best in the genre, but that's only a small distraction from the second-hand action you have to play through just to admire them.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 Screenshots
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