Medieval Rampage 2
Once upon a time, there was a game called Medieval Rampage, an arena shooter featuring a whole lot of arrows and a whole lot of enemies lining up to be turned into pincushions. Although it was fun enough, sloppy enemy hit detection and a handful of other design issues made it more repetitive than fun to play. Enter Medieval Rampage 2, disappointingly not titled "Son of Medieval Rampage". With 25 levels of varied enemies, different play modes, a level editor, new melee weapons and spells, 170 achievements and more, it's a significant step forward in quality and design.
The point of the game is to stay alive throughout each of the 25 levels, amidst increasingly crushing waves of enemies. Armed initially only with a bow, you'll have to slay every one of them to progress, picking up the cash and items they drop to arm yourself. The farther you go, the stronger you'll get, gaining points to enhance not only your own abilities, but those of your weapons.
Controls in Medieval Rampage 2 are fairly simple, moving around with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, aiming with the mouse, and clicking on things you would like to be, you know, dead. Pressing [I] will open your inventory to let you swap equipment or sell things, while pressing [E] next to the building on each level between waves will open up the store for purchase. If you buy a new spell or melee weapon, you can switch between them by pressing the [Q] or [E] keys during battle once you've equipped them.
Analysis: It's always good to see a game series that actually evolves as it progresses, beyond slapping successively higher numbers at the end of its name. While it's still far from perfect, many of the problems from the original have been addressed, if not ironed out completely. Enemies still occasionally get in a hit even if you've moved back out of range by the end of the attack animation, for example, but it no longer happens nearly as frequently as it did. The game is fast-paced fun while it lasts, if not particularly demanding when it comes to skill. Can you hold down a mouse button? Then congratulations, you can play Medieval Rampage 2. Here's your certificate, and a target to slap on your back. Have at 'er.
The shiny new locales you'll visit are neat. But the most welcome changes are the enemies themselves, who are a little bit smarter, and a whole lot more diverse. Tree monsters that leave sticky sap on the ground when they die, slowing you down. Lava creatures that can blind you temporarily with a flash of light. Rock beasts that burst apart when you destroy them, showering the field with harmful flying debris. Werewolves that die and... turn into rocks, I guess? Not all of it makes sense, but it's still a nice touch. Many ranged enemies will also now attempt to keep their distance from you instead of wading in like an enraged hippopotamus. Interestingly, the Bestiary lists this as an "ability", rather than "self preservation" or "common sense".
I would have liked to see a greater difference between each bow at your disposal, so it didn't always wind up just coming down to picking whatever packs the biggest punch. Adding in some special attacks would have gone a long way towards making the combat feel more involved. The bosses don't have enough personality to make them feel different and exciting, and nothing is ever unexpected. These creatures are supposedly the baddest in the realm; there should be more to it than having a ridiculous amount of hit points.
The inclusion of melee weapons and spells is a nice touch, especially for those of you who enjoy achievements and require a bit more variety with your combat. But at the same time, they're also mostly unnecessary. Neither the melee weapons nor the spells are effective enough to actually make you want to fork over the cash for them instead of a bow. But if you want them, buy them fast, as old items vanish to be replaced with new ones in the store after each boss stage.
There's something really enjoyable about a well made top-down shooter. Don't misunderstand; this is still a game where "strategy" means "all out endurance fest". It does, however, showcase what happens when a developer is aware of what needs to be done to grow. Medieval Rampage 2 is a great example of the genre, and addictive to boot. So strap on your bow and arrow and set out for adventure, glory, and an untimely, painful death. Or, you know, skip that part.