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Melbourne House



T (Teen)



July 2002



- “Old school” shooter action

- Cool lighting effects

- Great control scheme



- Bland graphics

- Repetitive levels

- Way too difficult



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Men in Black II: Alien Escape

Score: 6.0 / 10


Men in Black II: Alien Escape (MIBII) is a bit of a pleasant surprise, but it is still not good enough to recommend to any but the most hardcore fans of shooters.  Where it succeeds, MIBII is a solid, if a bit difficult, shooter.  Where it fails, MIBII feels more like a demo than a finished product.


mib-2-1.jpg (10505 bytes)          mib-2-2.jpg (12264 bytes)


The primary thing that MIB gets wrong is the load times.  Not since Crash Bandicoot’s PS2 debut have load times been this tremendous.  It is as if Melbourne House is trying to do their part to end world hunger by giving all players of MIBII an opportunity to go fix themselves a sandwich between levels.  Considering the fact that the game seems to be doing little that is that impressive, the load times are inexcusable.


The primary thing that MIBII gets right is its controls.  These are the most intuitive, tightest controls I’ve seen yet in 3D, character-based shooters.  The most used movement is the strafe, handled easily by depressing the top shoulder buttons of the Dual Shock 2.  A super-fast, 360 degree turn can be performed with the simple press of a button.  This makes blasting alien scum simple and efficient.  It is an obvious control scheme that seems to have eluded the designers of a lot of earlier 3D shooters, including the much-maligned 32 bit Contra games.





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Unfortunately, as good as the controls are, it still becomes next to impossible to complete any of MIBII’s levels without a ton of “do overs.”  The game is brutally tough, thanks mainly to a ridiculous amount of aliens that spawn repeatedly as a player makes his or her way through a level.  I meant to count them my last time through, but I’m sure there are at least five hundred aliens in the first level alone.  It seems like closer to a million.  


Now, I’m not one of those next generation wimps who complained about 


the difficulty of games like Maximo, but here, things are just ridiculous. Unlike top-down or side-scrolling 2D shooters, it is impossible to dodge the “shots” of the aliens, as they consistently beam in behind you in large groups and fire away.


Or, possibly, the problem is with the levels themselves.  They are long and repetitive and populated with the same small set of creatures from beginning to end (though there is variety from level to level).  Really, only the boss battles (fine and “old-school”) provide a break to the monotony.  Strangely, the boss battles are far easier than the battle of attrition you go through in order to get to the end of a level.


mib-2-3.jpg (13031 bytes)          mib-2-4.jpg (14524 bytes)


Graphically, MIBII is average at best.  On one hand we see a great use of particle and lighting effect for the cool weapons and ubiquitous explosions; on the other hand we have to look at bland, repetitive levels with simplistic and flat textures.  In the end, it’s a wash.  This is not a game anyone would want to use to show of their system to friends or doubters, but it certainly isn’t hideous or distracting.


A “mixed bag” pretty much sums up Men in Black II: Alien Escape.  It is better than most people might think, but not good enough to be a sleeper hit.  If the levels were more exciting, then maybe playing them over and over because of the difficulty wouldn’t be so annoying.  But, if the game play was more balanced, we could whip through the levels quicker and maybe they wouldn’t seem so plain.


- Tolen Dante


(August 19, 2002)

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