MediEvil 2 is an action-adventure game developed by SCE Cambridge and published by Sony in 2000 for the Playstation. 500 years after Sir Daniel Fortesque redeemed himself and saved Gallowmere, the warlock Lord Palethorn finds a portion of Zarok's spellbook and raises hell in London. But his necromancy brings Daniel out of his well-deserved eternal rest as well. He soon finds himself joined by Professor Kift and his ghost assistant Winston. They then work together to bring Gallowmere peace once more.
Immediately, the story of MediEvil 2 is lesser than that of the first, as Dan has already proved himself as a hero, so his status as a failure isn't something the player will immediately want to set right. They could have made a point of him having been forgotten in 500 years, but he's just sort of there and willing to save the day. He still gets belittled and is offered no respect of course, but it doesn't hit as well this time around. Same goes for Dan's voice, which has shifted from an echoing grunt to a high-pitched Guilmon impression which is extremely silly.
The series is silly, so it's not completely out of place, but it's a symptom of the lessened gothic atmospehere present in MediEvil 2, something I really liked in the original game. Seeing as the industrial revolution is underway in Gallowmere, this makes sense, but the game doesn't do enough with it in my opnion. There's this undercurrent of magical elements in Gallowmere having been swept away in the last 500 years by humans, which could have been a good angle for the plot or some comedy, but that is not the focus of the game.
I kind of struggle to pinpoint what the point of the plot is beyond "it's a sequel, deal with it". The professor is just here to point you to the next level and Winston is a glorified save point and tutorial NPC. Palethorn and his goons are ok, but they lack presence in the game, even though you run into them pretty often. And a one-off vampire boss manages to outshine them in his meager 4 cutscenes.
But what really grinds my gears is Dan's token love interest Kiya. She has like a single line in the whole game and only exists for some minor objectification and to give Dan some motivation in the story. It's an excellent example of a female character only given the barest of characterization so she can serve the plot without feeling like a real character.
With how short the game is (sporting only 9 proper levels compared to the original's ~17) and how messy the story is told without much purpose, it's clear that this was a rushjob. The game is so rushed in fact that the bad ending is earned from doing full completion, which has to be the most obvious mistake I've ever seen!
I think giving Dan a love interest and changing the setting up were good ideas, but they needed a whole game's worth of content to flesh out these concepts. As-is, the whole thing is full of half-baked promise never brought to fruition.
Given the rushed nature of the game, the mechanics being mostly the same is not surprising. There are some good additions, like an extra weapon slot and climbing, but overall it feels less refined. The combat and platforming of the original wasn't super good to begin with, but here it has gone below acceptable.
Since it's a 2000 release, camera control can be done through the stick, which is on its face sounds great. Sadly, since the game is caught inbetween giving the player full camera control and helping along people without a Dualshock controller, it ends up being a major nuisance. I tried my hand at a jump for some optional gold once and was met with downright whiplash as the camera flung itself 80 degrees to the left in an attempt to help me mid-jump, which redirected my input and dropped me dead in the water.
Combat isn't much better and is screaming for Z-targeting. Dan's rigid strafing isn't much help at all, so your best choice is to just go ham and pray like before. Only, in this game, either due to shoddy hitboxes or terrible animation priority, it doesn't feel like there's any way to escape taking major damage without relying on ranged weapons. Said ranged weapons being unreliable too, since enemies can block them or become invulnerable every other shot. And sometimes the auto-aim just doesn't want to cooperate.
Not helping matters is the nonsensical change to healing fountains, which makes it so they don't get restored when you replay a level, severly punishing people who can't find the Chalice of Souls and earn a new weapon the first time through.
The lesser health vials still respawn, so you're not fully screwed, but I strongly recommend anyone playing to just activate the cheat menu to refill health to full at the start of every level. That also lets you unlock the DanHand ability early, which is arbitrarily locked away from you for half the game for no reason, when all it hides away is some gold not worth replaying a whole level for.
The DanHand ability is one of few new ideas the game has (since so many concepts are recycled from the first game) and one I quite like, even though it's not fully realized. By going up to the zombie hands that only served as set dressing in the first game, Dan can plant his head on it in order to take control of it.
This then allows you to go through small holes and solve puzzles by swapping between the head and the body as needed. This works pretty well and allows for some neat, though not particularly challenging puzzles. Goes to show that there was at least a spark of creativity present during development.