Humans have recently joined the Concord, an alliance of many alien races, and are the warriors for them against the Sheevat, an alien race that wishes to obliterate the Concord. This is basically another strategy game, with the major thing that sets it apart being that it is BOTH real-time and turn-based, with a hybrid "simultaneous turn-based" mode.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
M.A.X. 2 turned out to be very interesting, if a bit complex for my tastes. The interface is one of the most customizable I’ve seen in the real-time strategy genre, but with those capabilities comes a great deal of complexity.
The two sides are very different as far as technologies/units go, with the Concord side having different bonuses depending on what race you pick at the beginning of the game. The technology system is quite involved; when you enter the upgrade control screen, you get the opportunity to select options such as upgrade all, upgrade vehicles, upgrade watercraft, etc. with the final option being customizable. The customizable upgrades allow you to focus your research on just the areas you are concerned with, but there are MANY areas to choose from, considering that you can upgrade ONLY aircraft armor, or upgrade armor in general. When I was first learning how to play M.A.X. 2, I tended toward the "upgrade all" option, because there was more than enough to keep me busy with trying to keep my resources balanced with my consumption.
This game feels like it is more resource-shy than other strategy games I’ve played. I was never able to end up with large resource reserves during the last stages of the game. On most maps, it seemed like I was more likely to end up running battles over resources than in many of the other strategy games I’ve played.
The single-player aspect of M.A.X. 2 was entertaining, even though it did feel a little slow. Many of the scenarios took longer than I would have liked. As far as multiplayer goes, this game really does well. It’s a lot harder in M.A.X. 2 to predict the technology shifts that your opponents are going to use than in other strategy games. In M.A.X. 2, you really NEVER get all the technologies even after several hours of play.
There are three different modes that can be played: Real Time (basically, if a player deploys a unit it goes until it accomplishes its task), Turn Based (each player takes his or her turn, moves units, and when everyone is done the turn is resolved and play continues), or Simultaneous Turn Based (within the turn segment, everything is real-time—units move toward their goals as far as they can within the time limit of the turn).
The graphics in this game are really quite good for a strategy game. Everything is 3D-rendered, and the terrain has a 3D model underneath it for elevation (you can actually turn on the wireframe during gameplay). I found it nice that the terrain affected line of sight, as many strategy games don’t have that.
Minimum: Pentium 133 Mhz, Windows 95 w/DirectX5, 16 MB RAM, 80 MB hard disk space, 2X CD-ROM drive, DirectX certified sound card, DirectX certified 1 MB video card, mouse
Recommended: Pentium 200 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive
M.A.X. 2 came with an 88-page instruction manual detailing the workings of the interface and each unit in the game. The manual is really put together quite well, and I’d recommend at least skimming it before getting too involved with M.A.X. 2. If you're like me, you will want to go back several times after playing to learn a little more about some of the individual unit interactions…
I’m giving this game a 75, as it is definitely something that the hard-core strategy gamers are going to want to look at, but I think the learning curve is going to keep this game from being all that enjoyable to the casual strategy gamer or the beginner. I think that the option of Real-Time vs. Turn-Based will make this game appealing to the hard-core gamers from both genres.