Video Game Review – Maximo Vs Army of Zin (Playstation 2)
Maximo Vs Army of Zin is the 2nd and final game in the Maximo series. A 3rd game was planned, but never got developed due to the low sales of this game, which is a shame, because this and the first game (Maximo: Ghost to Glory) are some one of my favorite Playstation 2 games.
previous level at any time to collect money and extra lives.
Maximo starts with you searching for your wife Sophie, when you stumble upon a woman who wants your help in a neighboring village. She is being chased by a robot that you quickly destroy. Grim (the scepter of death) informs you that this robot was powered by a soul, and explains why souls haven’t been appearing in the underworld. You venture to save the town and uncover the mystery of the Army of Zin.
First, people run in panic and are being chased by the robots. You have to save them. Like the first game, you have to collect all the items (and gold), destroy all the enemies, and find all the hidden treasure chests. Right off the bat, the biggest problem from the first game has been removed: when an enemy is killed, his treasure is not part of the items you have to collect. In the first game, if an enemy fell off a ledge, you had to replay the entire level to get the kill and item from him. Now, enemies will rarely fall off cliffs, making it less frustrating. In addition, in the first game, if you got a gem and died, too bad, you had to get it again. Here, if you collect a hard to reach gem then die, it will be gone now so you will know you have already collected it. This makes the game less frustrating and less repetitive.
and smaller enemies will normally attack you while you try to finish him off.
A new collect-a-thon feature now includes saving innocent people, starting with villagers (who die easily) then the King’s Guard (who can actually defend themselves and fight back).
At first the camera is unintuitive, as you move the left analog stick to the left to rotate the camera to the right, but after an hour I was able to adjust. Also, the camera works well in this game as it moves with you when you turn, allowing you to make platform jumps. And the best part is, if you fail a jump, you can stick your sword directly into the cliff if you make the jump close enough, allowing you to jump up and get to the platform. It can only work on the first inch of a cliff, otherwise, it won’t work, and the best part is it’s automatic. However, the game designers saw this and incorporated it in a lot of the platforming, knowing you can’t make the jump, they have you rely on this and hope you don’t fall to your death. I found the constant sticking into a cliff and jumping back up annoying at first, but this was much better than the alternative; restarting the level.
The save state is better this time, as you don’t have to buy your save points, but it relies on saving your location and the exact number of lives you had when you saved. When you die, there is no continue, only a “Restore last save point” (at least it saves your money, unlike most games). If you have only one life left, you will need to earn more by playing through weaker levels to get lives, or buying them from a peddler.
Two types of people will sell you goods, which are usually upgrades to your weapons. You attack by swinging your sword around. If you jump in the air and attack twice, you will swing that blade down upon an enemy. You start off being able to buy a charge attack, and lastly a downward strike that calls explosions around you to kill the toughest enemy in one blow.
These upgrades are limited in usage. You have a red bar in the upper right hand corner. This bar represents two things; first, it depletes with every upgraded attack that you have bought, and it also decreases when you throw your shield to collect coins or hit enemies. This means you cannot rely on your special moves for every instance, and allows you to hold them in check for when you really need them, something that makes the game more challenging, in a good way.
The peddler can also sell you two upgrades to increase your red bar, and also an upgrade that gives you more time to transform into Grim. Yes, you can now transform into Grim and perform a giant scythe swing of death, or create a small explosion on the ground. Becoming death (Grim) is a usually a last resort or in a area with 4 or more enemies around. He becomes essential in defeating the final boss.
The bosses in this game are really fun. First you fight a giant house with legs which houses an evil bird, but his 2nd form has guns mounted on his back. The next boss, Cyclops, is a mechanical crab that destroys the house you are in slowly, while the 4th boss is a giant sea serpent who destroys one of your platforms every time he emerges from the water, making it a must to destroy him quickly or fall to your death. Unfortunately, the final boss and all his forms, though fun, was the easiest boss in the game. Perhaps it is harder on Hard Mode.
The levels themselves will always leave you on a scavenger hunt, but this time a very useful item is given to you: treasure seeking boxer shorts. You can collect five different powered shields (such as electric to attack and treasuring sucking; so you don’t have to walk to every single gold coin) and five different boxer shorts. The treasure boxers vibrate the controller whenever a hidden treasure chest is near, making the treasure chest seeking aspect of this game must easier. In the first game, I remember jumping in every single location in a level after going through the level 3 times wondering how I couldn’t find it.
However, for all the improvements it made to the fighting, the save system, and the treasure collecting, it just felt like the level design was made to be easier than the first game. If I tell someone to play either of these games, I would tell them to play this game first, followed by Maximo: Ghost to Glory, as this game is easier and less frustrating for OCD-gamers. I blew threw this game and rarely died, whereas in the first game, I know I died about 3 times a level. I loved fighting the robots this game, but I just felt the environments in the first game were more memorable and the level design of the first game was far superior (though much harder).
Story 9 out of 10
The Army of Zin was sealed away 300 years ago in a giant vault, but now they appear again, and only Hellboy can stop them. Yes, Hellboy 2 had the same plot, but this game was created first. The main plot involves you destroying this army, but the four subplots are your search for Sophie, discovering who the Tinker is, finding out why no souls have entered the underworld, and meeting your old romantic rival. It is, however, unfortunate, that the Hint Scroll you buy had the back story of your romantic rival giving you your scar and taking from you your first girlfriend. If you didn’t read this, the impact is lessened when you save your ex and have to fight your old rival to get him to agree with you.
Music 4 out of 10
Shoot. I cannot remember any of the tunes. This is not a good sign. I remember the ending theme because it’s a remix of the classic Ghouls & Ghosts theme and the boss themes, but none of the music is memorable (at least it’s not bad). But, the music always seemed to match the level.
Challenge 10 out of 10
This game isn’t as challenging as the first game, but I liked it nonetheless. It’s easier to find treasures, save, fight enemies and claim their kills, and even saving innocents isn’t too hard; I only lost 4 innocent people the whole game. However, after playing the first game over and over, I half expected I would have thrown my controller at something breakable by now but I never did. The challenge was scaled down for mainstream audiences, which I can appreciate, as this way more people can appreciate the world of Maximo. And who knows, maybe Hard Mode is a chore.
Fun Factor 20 out of 20
This game is pure fun. I can’t recommend it enough. If collecting items isn’t your thing, just ignore all that and just play the game.
Control 10 out of 10
Controls are easy to use, there are no camera problems, and everything at your command is easy to remember.
Graphics 10 out of 10
The cutscenes are beautifully rendered and have a unique art style of their own, that isn’t quite cute, but not quite dark either. It’s very hard to describe. The levels themselves change all the time, from lost cities in the sand, to undersea caverns, mountains, villages, and flying aircraft. They didn’t take the easy route in making this game, and just about every other level has a completely different design.
Replay Value 9 out of 10
Though the game is fun, if you started to play it over and over again, you might feel the repetitiveness of the fights, but at least all the enemies have difference properties. The big giant machine is weak to your rapid strike, whereas the fish creature can strike you from above and doesn’t really take attacks head on. Enemy variety keeps the game fresh, but I am afraid to start Hard Mode on this game yet for fear I will get bored and not finish it to the end. The constant level design change from level to level keeps everything fresh for your eyes and for your platforming.
Extras 10 of 10
The extras in this game are very interesting. Every time you attain mastery of a level (found 100% of all items, saved all innocents, killed all enemies, and found all the hidden treasure chests) you unlock a gallery of character sketches (including a bikini version of the main female character), and you will get them for every character in the game, including all the enemies and bosses. In addition, there are also storyboards for the CGI movies, and you can spot the difference in the dialogue for the cutscenes as opposed to the storyboards, which is fun to compare.
+5 for the ending
The ending credits roll, and as they do, death is traveling back through all the levels you just played, only in each level something funny is happening. I won’t spoil it, as it was a nice touch and fun to watch after beating the game.
+1 for Evil Bunnies.
Sure, they stick to you and the only way to remove them is to slam the ground with your sword so they fall off, but it’s just hilarious when an innocent bunny you attack becomes an evil bunny with sharp teeth.
+ 3 for good protect missions
Twice you have to protect people who fight with you from getting killed, but they are very easy to save if you follow them. It’s hard to make a good mission protecting NPCs and this game pulled it off by not relying on it for too long, and also for giving your NPCs one hell of a life meter.
Total Points 91 out of 100
The worst part about this game is that they made a comic book and had action figures that most likely didn’t sell. They really believed it had the start of a franchise, but Army of Zin sold so little that the 3rd game was halted during production (see http://www.unseen64.net/2009/05/03/maximo-3-ps2-cancelled/ for artwork for the unreleased game), and the comic book was a single issue from Dreamwave (in addition to their other video game comics Mega Man and Darkstalkers).