In the world of first person shooters, there seem to be two universal rules: one, kill demons; two, if there are no demons, kill Nazis. Mortyr II follows these rules carefully, or at least the second one. You are cast as Sven Mortyr, a commando British intelligence officer, dropped behind enemy lines during the height of WWII. Through eleven missions your goal is to single-handedly stop the development of a secret German weapon which, if completed, could spell disaster for the Allies.
This is not exactly the most original plot, and Mortyr II is not exactly the most original game. It is a solid FPS with some interesting gameplay at a bargain price. You’re not going to find any new concepts here, but you will find a fun, if short, game that will satisfy your urge for shooting Nazis in the head.
The beginning of the game, where you’re armed only with a knife and your wits, focuses on stealth, but each mission can be completed with a variety of tactics or combinations thereof. Those who prefer staying out of sight and picking off enemies from a distance will find ample opportunity to do so, as will those who prefer to wade into the thick of combat with guns blazing.
Mortyr II mixes things up, however. If you think you can get through the whole game by staying out of the line of fire and sniping every enemy you see, you’re dead wrong. If you play slow, you’ll find sections of the game that force you to speed up; if you play fast, you’ll find sections that force you to slow down. This keeps players on their toes and provides capable gameplay even though there’s no real innovation.
The A.I. is worth mentioning as well, and it goes a long way to keeping the game interesting. The enemy movements and tactics are above average, and actually make the game very difficult at points. They’ll use terrain to their advantage by taking cover behind obstacles and they’re well organized. It’s not uncommon for one soldier to pin you down behind cover with machinegun fire while another lobs a grenade at your position. They’ll often stake out spots around corners when they hear your approach, ready to open fire. The A.I. is not perfect, however; while enemies show momentary signs of brilliance, at other times you might mistake them for brain-damaged scarecrows. They might run away from you for no apparent reason, or dart in and out of cover like a whack-a-mole game.
The levels are competently designed and, while extremely linear, offer a good variety of play. Each mission has a unique goal and several sub goals, and no mission is too long. As you play, you’ll fight through frigid Norway, behind enemy lines in the trenches of the front in Poland, and eventually to a cliffside monastery on the Mediterranean coast. This adds variety to the environments and allows for a good mix of close quarters and long range combat situations. The design of some levels is excellent, like the ascent to infiltrate the monastery, while others, especially the early stages, are just so-so outdoor hikes.
These outdoor stages are littered with buildings and vehicles, which at times make the game seem unfinished. Most of the buildings are inaccessible, and the transports, motorcycles, and kubelwagens strewn about are unusable bits of scenery. There are only two vehicles you actually get to pilot: a prototype helicopter and a railroad car. Not terribly exciting. At the beginning of one of the missions, you ride in a vehicle manning a mounted gun, but this feels like an old rail shooter since you don’t actually control where the vehicle goes. Not being able to commandeer the vehicles you see feels like a major missing feature.
While there are a dearth of vehicles, the weapon selection is extremely varied. The box claims “A wide range of historically accurate weaponry along with some unique experimental ones.” This is where the game seems based on rather than based in WWII. The pistols, rifles, and some of the fully automatic weapons look and feel accurate, but other weapons seem slightly modified. One machinegun has a night vision scope, and while there was some rudimentary night vision technology in the 1940s, the game’s implementation looks more modern. The weaponry selection keeps the game entertaining though, especially mounted weapons you can jump behind in several of the stages. The rocket installation is especially fun and culminates in the game’s single boss battle with a German tank.
The graphics, like the gameplay, are solid with nothing revolutionary. This is not going to be the best looking game you’ve ever seen even with detail levels cranked up. Thankfully outright errors are few, mostly limited to pop-ups of non-important terrain features. There seems to have been a good design philosophy in making this game; the designers didn’t try to blow your mind, but they made sure what they had was done well. Because there’s so much action during most of the game, this works out since you’re not going to have much time to stand there and examine the pretty flowers. The only real problem with the graphics is excessive slowdown in enclosed areas, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
The sound is done fairly well for a budget title but comes off as slightly lacking. The music is excellent, but after a few stages starts to all sound the same. Voiceovers during cut scenes are short but also well done, and the enemies are well vocalized. The only problem here is that you kill so many Nazis that you’ll start hearing the same things over and over. Ambient sounds are generally absent, but there are some nice effects to make up for it. Notably, in the indoor stages, there are nice echo effects that really convey the sense of a grand cathedral or narrow passage.
With only eleven missions, and many of them being fairly simple, Mortyr II does play through rather quickly. A good player could probably finish in fifteen hours or less, and with judicial use of save files, anyone should be able to finish in twenty. This is balanced out by the extreme difficulty; even on easier difficulty settings it’s a punishing experience. Much of this is due to the good A.I. combined with the overwhelming numbers of enemies, but it does keep the game interesting for those twenty hours. Some of the enemies are just plain tough too, especially the armored foot soldiers in the final levels (again, based on WWII), and some missions, like flying the helicopter, are just short of frustrating. In fact, it’s the difficulty that makes this game worthwhile, as the rest of it is fairly average. If it weren’t such a challenge, it would be boring.
There is a multiplayer feature with four maps for LAN or Internet play, but good luck finding any servers hosting games. With around a dozen different character types to choose from, it looks like it could be interesting if you have a few friends who enjoy the game.
Overall, Mortyr II is a solid budget title that shows you can get a good game for $20. No, it’s not perfect and isn’t innovative, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It is a good romp of a FPS, quick and dirty, with a good blend of play styles and game elements. If you’re looking for the latest and best experience, this isn’t for you, but if you want a basic, uncomplicated shooter it’s an excellent diversion.