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Review for Maximo vs Army of Zin

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1 Review for Maximo vs Army of Zin on Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:18 pm

I will try to give an unbiased view of this game, though even with that being said it will most likely be more favorable than a pure, objective review would be. I can't help but gush about this game!

An almost entirely self-contained sequel, MVAoZ is the second game in the Maximo series (There was supposed to be a sequel, but it never materialized). I recently learned that both are part of the larger Ghosts and Goblins series. This was a surprise considering how well I thought I knew this game, but I guess the team likes to make their games unconstrained by the larger fictional universe.

The plot begins with a small army of knights and their leader, Baron Morgan of Hawkmoor, fighting a much larger army of clockwork soldiers and beasts, seemingly hopelessly. Somehow the knights beat the Army of Zin and put all the bodies into the Great Vault, but they begin to come back to life before the job is done, so Morgan chooses to seal the vault behind him while keeping the Army of Zin inside.
Fast forward five centuries and the Zin have escaped! Maximo and his friend, the Grim Reaper, must determine what's happening, whodunnit, and how to stop this metal army from conquering the world! Maximo then fights his way through thousands of Zin, all the while rescuing various townspeople and befriending a couple important allies. Everything comes to a head when Maximo faces off against Lord Bane, the master of the Zin, only to find out [SPOILER] !

The controls are very tight and the mechanics are clean; whenever you make a mistake you feel like it was your fault, not the game's. Maximo doesn't have too many bells and whistles to start with: just a horizontal and a vertical attack, plus a jump and a shield throw, which can all be combo'd together in various ways as the player chooses. As you progress, you can learn new moves, buy better shields, and come across three new weapons (one more sword and two warhammers), all of which make Maximo a more threatening and more versatile fighter. You can switch between your warhammer and sword with the push of a button, which is a neat concept and proves useful in combat. Finally if you gather enough souls (each enemy drops at least a few, and so this task is not hard) you can transform at your leisure into the Grim Reaper himself! Doing so renders the player totally immune to damage and does massive damage himself! Only lasts for a few seconds though.

The music changes depending on what section of the game you're in (You start in the village, move through the Spooky Forest, then into the mountains, from there to the drained sea, and finally to the Zin Factory) and depending on whether you're in combat or not. It's not spectacular like Ratchet and Clank's music was, but I would compare it in quality to the Jak and Daxter series. It is memorable, if not amazing.

The graphics are pretty good, especially for a PS2 game, and call me nostalgic for liking that the cutscenes are of a noticeably higher quality than the game itself, but I think it really shows accomplishment, like you have earned this cutscene.

The combat is good for a couple reasons: You never feel overwhelmed (unless you rush in to die without using any strategies) and yet the threat is still quite credible. That, combined with the fact that the larger and better your combo is, the more koins (collectible currency used to buy all the various goods and services in the land) you get. This incentives the player to fight well, but also to fight smart (some moves will, in a single attack, deal massive damage and shoot the combo meter way up).

Maximo starts with two levels of armor (each one containing a health bar) and when they're depleted you die. You can pick up more armor (up to four levels) by finding it in a chest or just about the level, or if you do a sick combo on an enemy armor may drop. This, I find, is an excellent way to encourage good fighting style and to lessen the punishing effect of facing wave after wave of enemies in each level.

Also, upon beating a level you are faced with a screen that tells you how many out of a total specific to that level 1) Innocents rescued 2) Treasures collected 3) Enemies vanquished and 4) secrets found, and when you get 100% for that level it is "mastered" and turns gold on the map, unlocking concept art. This is a very cool and useful feature for telling you what you did wrong and what you did right in each level.

If I could find some flaw in this game it's that the second-to-last boss is unfair in a bad way, and if you don't face him with full armor, full super meter, full health, and full grim meter, you'll likely be destroyed.

Ultimately, this game adds up to be just what it advertises to be: A fun, fast-paced hack and slash game with some little secrets and bonuses here and there, but with no shoe, and a good story overall.

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