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Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2

Good action-adventure titles are few and far between on the PC, and the genre has long been considered "on hiatus." Some adventure games rely heavily on RPG elements, and most action titles deliver only that, action. Therefore, it's pretty cool for a game to come out of nowhere and pack such a visceral mix of action and adventure. And although we've seen screen shots of F.A.K.K.2 and have heard how incredible the game would be, we never thought our biggest problem with the game would be that we would be left wanting more.

Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2 takes place 30 years after the events of the film Heavy Metal 2000, and although it helps to have seen the movie, you can get by with just the story line that the game hands you. You control Julie (modeled after 1993 Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain), who cuts, shoots, jumps, and climbs her way through more than 25 levels from town to swamp to jungle, battling an array of otherworldly enemies. Starting out in her homeworld of Eden, you take the character through these areas, not to mention quite a few outfit changes, as she attempts to restore peace to her corner of the galaxy.

At the opening of the game, you start out in the small town you call home. Strange meteorites have begun to hit the shield that protects you and your people, and soon, an ominous figure begins to make mysterious threats. From the minute the game starts, the lush graphics will draw you in and almost never let you go. F.A.K.K.2 will change your perception of what can be done with the Quake III engine. Sure, Quake III was fast, and the shapes were more natural than any engine had ever pumped out before, but it always seemed as though the game fell victim to the same "brown, red, more brown" color scheme that the previous two Quake games had fallen prey to. Not here--from the lush green forests to the vibrant blue water to the dingy sludge of the sewers, the game's environments never get repetitive, and there's constantly a sense of wonder about what kind of spectacle the game can offer to top itself. Even better, at resolutions as high as 1,280 by 1,024 pixels, the game ran as smooth as Julie's skin.

click to enlargeLoading from a saved game generally takes next to no time at all, and the save/load process is as painless as possible. This is good, because you will be doing a lot of saving and loading. F.A.K.K.2 gets hard. Never does the game seem too overwhelming, but it will get your goat with swarms of enemies and occasional sparse ammunition. At some points in the first quarter of the game, levels have too many enemies too high up and there's no ammo for you to take them down. (For these areas, I can only advise you to run like hell and hope you make it and assure you that in later levels, the ammo will be a little less rare). Master the sword and shield skills quick, 'cause you're gonna need 'em. For a good half of the game, they'll be your go-to weapons, because many of the enemies are mosquitoes and flies. But don't think they're the only ones, because you'll fight giant beasts and skeletal monsters with guns poking out from everywhere. Luckily, the game provides you with quite an arsenal, ranging from swords and axes to machine pistols, bazookas, and flamethrowers.


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