Maximo vs. Army of Zin PS2 Review

The original Maximo was criticised by many gamers for being too difficult. Capcom’s own homage to their Ghosts & Goblins series may have been something to do with it, although in comparison, Maximo was still a walk in the park and you thankfully didn’t die after a single hit. The sequel comes with many refinements, which will pop the dummies back in those whining mouths.

Army of Zin is no longer as harsh on the player and gives you much more room for making errors. Those who played the original game will remember the cruel system that had the Grim Reaper punishing you when you lost all your lives, thankfully Maximo and Grim have a better understanding about one another, so punishment is now completely out of the question. A botched jump can even be rectified, if you’re in range Maximo will stick his sword into the ledge saving you from certain death. This ability is a godsend and dampens the frustration level, the amount of jumping the game contains is rather heavy after all. Finally the save system is much more forgiving and the camera is now completely manipulative.

Like the original, Army of Zin relies on a touch of comic value. The Susumu Matsushita character designs are back in full force. Maximo himself looks slightly more realistic, though he still retains the wackiness, which fits in nicely with the rest of the game. Taking enough damage to be stripped right down to only Maximo’s boxer shorts also makes a comic return, although there is now more of an emphasis on the said boxers. Additional shorts can now be purchased allowing Maximo to wear an extra fourth level of armour and so on.

A major new feature is the fact that you can come to the aid of innocent people. This is a fantastic addition, as not only does it higher the completion percentages of a level but you are also rewarded for your troubles. The innocents will offer their gratitude, paying you back with money, skeleton keys for special chests and even cure your wounds. This adds so much to the Maximo experience and creates a better illusion of a believable world.

Also new to the experience is the ability to summon the Grim Reaper when things are getting tough and enemy numbers high. The new understanding between Maximo and the Reaper helps a great deal if you are running low on health. When you dispatch the world of enemies they constantly leave little blue orbs for you to collect, and it’s this collective energy that makes it possible to unleash Grim. Having Grim on your side is much better than being punished when you fall down a hole for the last time.

Maximo can become more powerful with new attacks purchased from the travelling stores. When you are at odds with the enemy numbers moves such as the 360-degree sword swing can help ward enemies off and give you more room to breathe. When times get tough and you currently don’t have the Grim Reaper to call upon, these attacks can come to your aid – granted you know the controls of course.

Sadly Maximo’s quest is a little short lived and can all be wrapped up in three or four hour’s time. If you’re a perfectionist, then you can play through levels again to uncover everything. If you’re striving for the perfect 100% on each level that’s all well and good, but we did feel that it would have been much nicer to cram more levels on to the disc to at least double the amount of time it takes to complete Maximo’s miniscule quest.

Graphically, Army of Zin (like the original) is rather unique with a look all of its own. The game certainly isn’t one of the most solid looking platform games; just take a look at some of the drab textures to solidify that fact. Maximo himself has had a bit of a face-lift and looks more detailed, a fair amount of things can also be happening on the screen at once. The camera is friendlier and can now be rotated in a full circle, although it does get a little stuck in the more cramped of locations. Towards the end of the game when the screen starts getting really busy the frame-rate does falter on many occasions, but thankfully it never becomes unplayable. On the other hand we found it to be aurally fantastic, with some memorable tunes and Maximo’s “hmm” is one of those sound bytes that we probably will remember in years to come.

Maximo vs. Army of Zin is a fabulous addition to the platforming genre, it’s so enjoyable to play that it becomes almost an addiction. We wanted to lift the veil from all the secrets and master every level 100%, to us that’s always a sign of a good game and almost saves the adventure from being embarrassingly short. Despite offering a miniscule quest, Army of Zin is certainly not far behind the likes of Jak and co.