Review: Maximo Vs. The Army Of Zin (PS2)

A little while ago Capcom America went and developed a tribute to the old Ghost’s and Goblins games from long, long ago. Titled Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, the game was true to its roots by being as hard as or harder than anything to come out on this generation of systems. Because of this, word got around that the game “sucked” due to its difficulty. As a result, it didn’t sell very well until the price dropped. Whatever the reasons, the people at Capcom decided there was yet more demand for our man Maximo, and so a sequel was made.

Story:

500 years ago, an army of robots nearly takes over the world. The Baron of Hawkmoor builds a giant vault and then sacrifices himself to keep the army which has been trapped inside from regenerating and getting out. His last words, “Never open this vault!” have been passed down from generation to generation of Hawkmoors, and all have taken it as a sacred oath, guarding the vault with their very lives.

500 years later, mad Maximo is still hunting down his missing woman, Sophia. Sitting by a campfire one night he is set upon by bandits. Max isn’t worried. But when a woman appears out of nowhere screaming that her town is under attack by robots, he has to take action. This doesn’t worry Max though, as he still has friends in low places. Grim, the Angel of Death, is his guardian angel. Presto, no more bandits or robots. Grim has a problem though. No souls have entered the underworld in quite some time. The robot he destroyed was powered by a soul. Maximo has a new mission. And this time, it’s not personal.

Story: 7.0

Graphics

While Maximo himself seems to have grown a little taller and a little thinner since we last saw him, the rest of the game world in which he appears is still as bright and vibrant as ever. Colorful, though not very realistic, Capcom has once again gone with a more cartoony vision for Maximo’s world. The Army of Zin, who are the meat to be grinded by Max in this game, looks about as realistic as a chimp playing in the NHL, but the game isn’t about realism, so no problem there. If Max can fight skeletons, he can fight robots too.

Graphics: 8.0

Sound

Clang! Clank! Clang! Get ready to hear that a lot, as it’s the sound of robots dying. From the lowliest goon to the biggest boss, your steel will strike their iron, and your steel will win. And then you will hear the locals thanking you. And there will be much rejoicing. There is a little bit of voice work to move the story along, but for the most part you will hear grunts and moans as robots die. The locals do in fact speak to you when you ask them too, but what they are really saying usually appears in message balloons while you hear a “thank you” from their lips.

The music is as varied and enjoyable as the graphics are. From start to finish, the music does everything you could ask of a soundtrack to make a game enjoyable. Whether it is the understated theme played at the start screen or the music which is played while you fight, it all adds to the game, never taking you out of it, and never making you reach for the mute button. All I can really say is I wish more game soundtracks were as well done as this one was.

Sound: 8.5

Control

What do you get when you cross a platformer with the following ingredients: A horizontal slash, an overhead slash, a double jump, and a shield that will remind you of Captain America? Why, you get a game that controls excellently. Not since Sly Cooper have I played a game where I could command the main character on screen so effortlessly. Maybe it’s because the game goes back to basics with its control scheme, or maybe it’s just that the folks at Capcom know what they are doing. Whatever the case, when you start busting out combos and delivering the wrath of Max upon the Zin, you will know the joys of smiting thine enemy.

And yes, when you live by the sword you must be prepared to die by it also. That’s why Capcom also gives you a war hammer. Taking a minor note of inspiration from the Zelda series, some of the puzzles in the game require you to hammer the ground. You will occasionally have to pound the snot out of something instead of chopping them up as well. Don’t worry though, even the hammer will feel like second nature to you after a while. And if it doesn’t, the control scheme has allowed a quick switch between the two weapons.

Control: 9.0

Replayability

This is an interesting game in terms of replayability. There isn’t a whole lot of stuff to make it replayable. The designers have included image galleries which can be unlocked by mastering the various levels (getting all the treasure, killing all enemies, saving all the peasants, etc) but these really aren’t much unless you just HAVE to see Tink in a bikini.

No, what makes Maximo 2 so interesting is the fact that even without any other reasons to replay the game, I want to replay the game just because it was so damned fun. Having beaten the game on normal, I want to go through it again on hard. If there be a difficulty beyond hard, I will probably want to play it again on that setting. Games like that are rare these days, for me at least. It has been a long time since I’ve found a game which I want to replay just to experience it again.

Replayability: 9.5

Balance

The first Maximo was a very hard game. Nobody will argue that the challenge level in Ghosts to Glory was about as high as it gets these days. To beat it, while not on the same level as say beating Ghosts and Goblins, is certainly an achievement to be proud of.

The Army of Zin isn’t quite that hard. In fact I’d say for the majority of the game, it’s almost easy. You can hack your way deep into the heart of this game wearing out the square button combos. Your biggest challenges will be of the jumping and missing variety. Then suddenly, when you are battle weary and wondering if this is all the game will do to challenge you, the combo stops working. The Zin learn how to block! After all this time of playing through the game, not upgrading your attacks, you find yourself desperately fighting off an enemy that out of nowhere blocks your money play. My only problem is they did this much too late in the game. Still, it was both a rude awakening and a pleasant surprise all at once.

Because the games difficulty ramps up out of nowhere, I can’t give it the high marks the rest of the game receives. But don’t let that fool you. By the time it happens, you should be well versed in other means of killing robots.

Balance: 7.0

Originality

This is both the games main weakness as well as its strength. It is, after all, based on the old Ghosts and Goblins games. So a game that has been inspired by another can’t really claim to be original. At the same time though, the game is using that inspiration to give life to a new series all its own. Maximo is no longer just a boxer wearing skeleton killing machine. By adding robot enemies to the series, Capcom has managed to make a game that stands on its own. There are still hints of the past, but those hints are incorporated so well you won’t even notice unless you look really hard.

Originality: 8.0

Addictiveness

Ah, saving the world and getting the girl. It doesn’t get any more basic than that. So why, after all the times I have saved the world in my life, do I feel the urge to play through Army of Zin again? Is it the story? No, not really though that certainly is enjoyable. Is it the camaraderie I feel with both Max and Grim? Nope, though if Max were a real guy I’d sure like to be his friend. What is it then? Well, it’s hearing that satisfying sound of your sword destroying another robot. I can’t get enough of it. Give me a character with a sword and a quest, and stand back, I say. The gameplay is simple yet satisfying, and I know of no other way to make a game quite as addicting as to make it simple and satisfying.

Addictiveness: 8.0

Appeal Factor

Well, let’s see now. So far it scores really well in Graphics, Sound, Control, and Addictiveness. I’m not really sure what else I can tell you to convince you that this is a game that deserves your money. I mentioned that controls feel like second nature, the graphics look sweet, the sound is excellent. Nope, nothing else I can add to all that, really.

Actually, I guess there is. If you are a parent, who played games as a kid and now want to get your child into gaming, this might be the game to do it with. It’s not easy, but who ever said it should be? Simple controls, easy going storyline, and not once does anyone swear or curse. The game is rated T for Teen (for animated blood and violence), so you should, as a good parent always should with videogames, check it out for yourself first. But if there was ever a character to introduce a child to real gaming (as in not a game designed specifically for children) it is Maximo.

Appeal Factor: 8.0

Miscellaneous

While this game isn’t really the longest I’ve ever played, I am very pleased at the way the entire experience turned out. The first Maximo was a game that held promise and really deserved a better fate than it wound up getting. I’m happy that Capcom listened to what was said and used these suggestions to make a game that might be easier, is definitely better all around than its predecessor.

Miscellaneous: 8.0

Story: 7.0
Graphics: 8.0
Sound: 8.5
Control: 9.0
Replayability: 9.5
Balance: 7.0
Originality: 8.0
Addictiveness: 8.0
Appeal Factor: 8.0
Miscellaneous: 8.0

Short Attention Span Summary
Simple yet Satisfying. Maximo vs. the Army of Zin takes its place on the list of Playstaion 2 exclusive games that makes me glad I own the system.