Game Review - by Randy Widell
M.A.X.2 is the latest in real-time and turn-based strategy games. An interesting mix between the Final Fantasy series and the Command & Conquer series, M.A.X.2 provides the best of both combat models, dynamic unit morale, and an impressive catalog of units.
I read the manual that came with M.A.X.2 very carefully and was not able to find a coherent story, but rather tidbits of a story that are mentioned whenever appropriate. The book provided enough information for the player to know that there is a federation of alien races called Concord, humans are attempting to become Concord members by merging their DNA with the DNA of Concord races, and there is an enemy race called the Sheevat.
M.A.X.2 uses the standard, easy to use, InstallShield system, and does not require the player to configure it for individual systems. M.A.X.2 includes some minor improvements over features of other games in its genre. M.A.X.2 provides the player with a "SpyCam" for booking locations on the main map and displaying them in a secondary window at variable levels of zoom. M.A.X.2's artificial intelligence engine is well designed and comparable to Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft.
The graphics in M.A.X.2 are just under the borderline of its genre averages. The effect graphics (explosions, building construction, etc.) in StarCraft (released in 1997) far surpass M.A.X.2's claim. The terrain graphics in M.A.X.2 are fairly comparable to those in StarCraft and the Command & Conquer series by Westwood Studios, however.
Some sound effects in M.A.X.2 are much better than its counterparts'. The units in M.A.X.2 respond to player commands with different levels of confidence depending on the unit's current hit point status, and each unit gives fair warning before being destroyed. I found this to be a great deal more useful than say when Command & Conquer: Red Alert announces: "Unit lost." Shooting and movement sounds in M.A.X.2 are comparable to its counterparts'.
Gameplay in M.A.X.2 is about average. Rubber band selecting is kind of inconsistent in that units are not always selected as intended, otherwise the general interfacing closely resembles that of most other real-time strategy game.
Interplay really had a good game in the making, but they did not follow through well. I was really disappointed in the lack of a developed story. 75% of the fun is working through a story. A good story provides distinct goals making the game more coherent and interesting. The game is ok for people who are just getting in to the real-time strategy scene, but it does not live up to its potential.