Maximo sees the rebirth of Legend on the Playstation 2. In the eighties two coin-operated arcade machines, Capcom's own Ghosts 'n' Goblins and Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, were fantastically popular. The idea of Ghosts 'n Goblins was that you, playing Sir Arthur, had to rescue Guinevere and in doing so you had to hack your way through legions of zombies, skeletons and many more spooky characters. Maximo takes the basic idea from Ghosts 'n Goblins, redefines it for the 21st century and portrays the whole thing in sumptuous 3D.
Maximo returns from a distant war to find that his love, Sophia, has been stolen and that his lands have been claimed by his nemesis Achille. Obviously Maximo is not too chuffed with these events and sets off to confront Achille. The meeting does not go well and Achille kills Maximo and breaks Sophia's heart. As strange as it may seem that is not the end of events as the now dead and upset Maximo discovers that the Grim Reaper has just as much reason to get revenge on Achille. Achille has created a huge drill and has been drilling into the underworld and freeing dead souls in order to create an enormous army for himself. The Grim Reaper, as you can imagine, is furious with this and offers Maximo his life back if he can put a stop to Achille's despicable activities. Maximo accepts this offer and so begins his quest for revenge.
Maximo is essentially a hack 'n slash platform game. To its credit though the game never gets too repetitive and it's lively mixture of impressive enemies, delightful combat moves and the need to collect items keeps the action fresh. The action begins with our hero having to find his way into the city. Maximo is soon confronted by skeletons, ravens ghosts and zombies all of which are determined to bring about his demise. Maximo's armour has three sections. Each of these sections can take four hits. After four hits have been taken that section of armour falls off. Should you be down to your last section of armour then you will see Maximo in his underpants. The armour can be found scattered around the levels in chests so it is possible to protect Maximo once more. Maximo carries a shield with him and this can take about ten hits before it is ruined. Throughout the game it is possible to power up both your sword and shield in a variety of ways that further increases their strength.
As well as his armour and weapons Maximo has the capacity to use three special abilities. On his travels Maximo collects special abilities/attack moves. Maximo can only store three of these moves at a time so if he loses a life then only the ones which are stored are saved. Those abilities which are surplus to requirements can be swapped for a stored ability at any time. This allows you, to a certain degree, to use tactics in combating enemies.
The basic item to collect is the Koin. Koins are coins that you collect as you wander around the levels. These Koins are important because they enable you to purchase things such as full health from the Wheel-O-Prizes (a sort of monument that contains various goodies). What's more important is that you will need 100 Koins to save your game or travel, once you find a Magic Pool.
Graphically Maximo is fantastic. The plant life is vibrant and moves realistically when knocked. If Maximo swings his sword into a tree trunk it actually gets wedged and he has to put his foot against the trunk to retrieve the sword. In the initial levels you have huge chunks of the land just collapsing as a result of Achille's drilling and the tremor effect is very impressive. With the Nintendo Gamecube and Microsoft's Xbox almost upon us various comments of their graphical superiority have been boasted in various corners. Capcom show us with Maximo that it isn't the console what matters but the skill of game designers. Maximo looks as good as anything the new consoles could provide and it remains beautifully smooth in hectic battles with no decrease in frame rate.
Just like it's arcade ancestors Maximo provides a very challenging experience. The initial levels are not too bad but even early on it's obvious that you are not going to be finishing this game in a hurry. To give you a helping hand checkpoints are scattered around the levels. These checkpoints have to be activated in order for your progress to register. Should you lose all your lives then in true arcade fashion you have a small amount of time to chose to continue and recommence from your last checkpoint.
Maximo really is a magical experience and certainly one of the highlights of the Playstation 2's gaming catalogue. One disappointment though is that the cutscenes are not subtitled. Whilst this may prove a disaster in some games it doesn't harm the enjoyment too much. The manual explains what happens in the introductory cutscene and in all truth it is not a rich, scripted, story line in which key facts would be missed by unsubtitled cutscenes. All other information is indicated by the use of symbols. An example of this is the exclamation mark over chests that can be opened and question marks over gates that you don't have the key for.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10 Maximo is a fantastic experience that is deserving of every PS2 owner. From it's graphical splendour to it's platforming excellence it has combined the vintage Ghosts 'n' Goblins with 21st century 3D gaming in true style. The bosses are impressive, the combat is impressive and the whole experience smacks of excellence.
Deaf Gamers comment: Maximo might not have subtitles in the few cutscenes that it does have, but to be honest they do not detract from the overall experience. Anyone looking for a class arcade experience should look no further than Maximo.