Your stomach is a wonderful thing. It can remind you of when you’re hungry, allowing you to experience your next meal choice through the visions that you can almost taste and for which your wallet through its mercy will allow you to purchase. Unfortunately, I wasn’t listening to my stomach when I picked up Mortyr II.
Mortry II was found on the cheap, allowing me to experience even more WW2 action on the PC.
The Second Front
When I had heard that a sequel to Mortyr was being made, I wondered why. The first Mortyr, although applauded by some for its unflinching use of WW2 propaganda in its level design, wasn’t all that great. At least that was the impression that most of the press had left us with and for which I could agree. Id’s Wolfenstein 3D was still a lot more fun than the updated 3D action offered up in Mortyr, which featured more finding-the-key fun, a strange sci-fi plot that was better experienced in Cinemaware’s Rocket Ranger, paint by the bullet gameplay, and a horrid ending that gave the player a Tiger Uppercut in the jimmy as a reward for slogging through it.
Apparently it was a huge hit in Poland where it was developed (probably prompting Interplay to pick it up and publish it in the States) so Mirage decided to make a sequel to it several years later sporting flashy new graphics and improved gameplay.
The sequel ejects the sci-fi weirdness that filled the first one for something a little more realistic. You are Sven Mortyr, a member of British Intelligence “with Nordic roots” that discovers that his father has been captured by the Nazis. Apparently, his father is a scientist and the Nazis abducted him to work on one of their infamous “wonder weapon” projects. Sven is sent in to free him and to stop whatever it is that the Nazis are building.
If you’ve played any type of FPS before, you won’t get lost in the controls. You can remap the keys just as you would expect and before you know it, you’re off to take on the Third Reich. During the course of your missions, you get text messages across the top of your screen that indicate new objectives and actions that you can take (such as suggesting how to go about getting through to your next objective). The first level is a ‘training’ level of sorts as these messages hold your hand through some actions to get you familiar with the gameplay. My copy of the game didn’t come with a hardcopy of the manual so if you’re looking for one, it’s on the CD.
As you journey across the large levels, you’ll be able to grab weapons from the dead to fill your arsenal with all of the deadly tools that you might need. Weapons will also be found just lying around, including a weapon that has a Vampir night vision scope attached to it allowing Sven to look through the eyes of Ghost Recon. There are also explosive boxes that you will be asked to grab and carry over to certain objectives to dump and set so that you can crater them. You can also mount machine guns that are on fixed vehicles. And while the enemy can ride motorcycles, you can’t ride anything other than a train car to pull some explosives along. There’s also the flying machine.
At one point, you do get to pilot a flying vehicle to fly over the opposition and drop grenades on their head. That is, if you can avoid dying as soon as you take off. The vehicle you try to appropriate handles like a drunken moth with the ability to fly only about three feet off of the ground, bursting into flame by coming near anything resembling a tree or a telephone pole. Fortunately, the game doesn’t force you to use this thing and you can just walk the rest of the way to where you need to go.
The battlefields and other locales that Sven will find himself in range from looking okay to being pretty bad. The graphics do what they’re supposed to and the indoor areas look a lot better than their outdoor counterparts. The underground base at the end, the monastery, and the battlefield scene on the Eastern Front were the best looking levels out of the 11 single player ones that are there, but the rest of the graphics suffer from repetitive textures and some awful lighting. To Mirage’s credit, though, they continue the tradition of using Nazi propaganda to dress up their levels as they had in the first Mortyr, so that’s one thing that they had kept that was actually good to see.
There are some physics here, with barrels that roll and Nazis that fly back and crumple over boxes and against walls. It’s too bad that when they go down, they fall in slow motion. They also run around with all of the energy of a sloth for some reason, but they will try and take cover and basically make themselves annoying. The AI isn’t all that great as you’ll see many soldiers simply stay where they are and wait for you to poke your head out of behind whatever crate/barrel/corner you’re hiding behind making it easy to hide and then call your shots. Some foes will try and run to find cover, but this usually makes them just run back and forth from behind cover until you finally decide to just shoot them.
The game also has a tendency to spawn more soldiers in from nowhere, filling corridors and certain areas that you had cleared out before with more Wehrmacht soldiers eager to die. To be fair, the game does try to make an attempt to disguise this with parachute drops or with trucks that roll up to where you are, but that doesn’t happen too often. This is especially true in the last level.
The sound effects and music are both in different leagues. Most of the weapon sounds suffer from a strange echo as if they were all recorded in a sound booth with walls of bare concrete. The environmental sounds, though, and some of the special effects sound far better, but not by much. The music, on the other hand, is composed from some kind of bombastic synth that even ad libs a little Wagner in its mix. Compared to the action on screen and the somewhat okay sound effects, it’s hard to feel excited about taking bad guys down when your theme sounds a lot like elevator music.
And then we have the voice acting. While it was better to hear authentic German in the game after Ubersoldier, the delivery of most of the lines left something to be desired. Don’t expect to feel inspired by some pretty bad voice acting, much of which literally sounds phoned in. Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding it as you’ll hear it in those bits of the thin story as told through the in-game cuts.
The action of the game is typical FPS fare, although Mortyr 2 tries to make it more difficult for the player and not because of what it will throw at them or for any specific challenge created by its levels. They’ll tend to spawn in from behind many times, filling in areas that you thought you had cleared out again with more cannon fodder although the game makes an attempt to disguise this in the outdoors with parachutists and trucks, but not often. The soldiers in Mortyr 2 must have also come from the same class that the soldiers in Ubersoldier graduated from later as they share the same psychic ability to aim at you and peg you with insane accuracy with anything in their hands. Whether its an FG-42 or MG-34, they can blast you with it no matter how far you happen to be. If they know you’re there, so do their bullets.
But they also have the ability to throw silent grenades at you. There’s no cue to let you really know if there’s a grenade at your feet if you happen to miss the SS trooper throwing one at you from behind the brush. If you manage to catch an ugly green pixel on the screen arcing in the air, it’s a safe bet that its not an insect flying around. It lands on the ground as if on a pillow and then blows you to hell when you least expect it. Fortunately, the soldiers sometimes blow each other up when they occasionally forget their own grenades on the ground.
As for the storyline behind the game, don’t expect any. There’s no character development to speak of, you have no idea who Gunnar really is other than he’s someone that you have to save often, and Sven’s father simply disappears from the story altogether. The ending is almost as worse as the one that players were rewarded with in the first one. The only saving grace that this ending has over the first Mortyr’s is that it didn’t go into the Twilight Zone to reveal the big secret of the Third Reich, although that’s not saying much. Mortyr 2 is focused on the action and does little else to really distract you from the bland gameplay. While it can be argued that there wasn’t a whole lot of character development in Wolfenstein 3D, its presentation was punctuated with a faster, more exciting pace and better voice actors.
There’s also multiplayer for Mortyr II with four maps in which to shoot your friends up with. Unfortunately, there was no one out there when I tried to see if I could try it out with, or even see if it worked.
Mortyr 2 is as bland a shooter as you can find, offering straightforward FPS action that does little else other than provide an excuse to shoot stuff. Lacking the kind of intensity found in the first Call of Duty or even the older entries into the Medal of Honor series such as Allied Assault, the only worth that the game really has is in providing yet another virtual Third Reich to attack. But Mortyr 2 even fails to get that right as Wehrmacht grunts move and die as if they were stuck in first gear, spawn in from nowhere whenever the story wants them to, and throw silent grenades and random mortar shot to just kill you dead to make up for the lack of doing anything more than in acting as targets. Add to that a story that forgets who Sven is supposed to rescue, and you might find yourself heading back out to order up the largest hamburger that you can find to gamble your health with in order to get the kind of excitement that Mortyr 2 had failed to provide.
– World 1-1