It's hard to believe that five years have passed since the original Mortyr came out. It's even harder to believe that after the chilly reception the awful original received half a decade ago, somebody decided to fund, design, program, and release a sequel. Now brace yourself for the really hard to believe part: The result isn't all bad. Let's qualify that. For a game from the same people who brought you such memorable stinkpots as Mortyr and the transcendentally lousy Sniper: Path of Vengeance, Mortyr 2 is actually a semi-competent piece of work. As far as budget-priced shooters go, you could do a lot worse...like choosing any of Mirage Interactive's previous games, for instance.
The one area of the game where you couldn't possibly do any worse, however, is its multiplayer. Mortyr wasn't exactly a powerhouse in this respect, yet the sequel doesn't even live up to its predecessor's meager standard. All one of the multiplayer modes are accessed through a separate desktop launch screen. This brings you to a drab, sad-looking little dialog box where you can choose to host any of the game's measly four deathmatch maps or join a LAN game in progress. You can also connect to an Internet server, assuming you know its IP, that is. In one of the game's rare returns to classic Mortyr "D'oh!" form, there's no built-in server browser, a feature that was pretty standard in even crappy low-budget shooters from the Mortyr 1 era.
Once you discount the feeble attempt at multiplayer, it's all more or less uphill. The original's single-player campaign featured time travel and took place half in 1943 and half in 2093. The sequel abandons this science-fictional element in favor of a more straightforward World War II theme. You play Sven Mortyr, evidently a distant relative of the first game's time-hopping Sebastian Mortyr. This time around, instead of inventing a temporal vortex to steal weather-controlling mystical artifacts from the future, the Nazis are merely building a honking big rocket. Though the devious plan has gotten a whole lot less ambitious, they're still Nazis, so it's still your job to stop them.
The game's 11 levels take place in a standard variety of World War II environments. Among other familiar sites, there's a cathedral, a train station, some nondescript (though effectively foliaged) European countryside, a well-defended mansion, a bridge, and a supersecret Nazi base. None of it's very surprising, but it doesn't look half bad. The engine does a decent enough job of rendering both big outdoor environments and reasonably cluttered and atmospherically lighted interiors. It's no Half-Life 2, but there are enough little visual details to save the game from that cheap, threadbare look common to budget shooters.
Some welcome variety in level design and generally intense firefights also help keep the game from sinking into total mediocrity. Taking a lesson from more-recent WWII shooters, the developer has tossed in some on-rails levels, some defense-of-an-area tasks, and even a few controllable vehicles. These vehicles inspire one of the best levels, during which you must drive a small train through a Nazi-infested stretch of Yugoslavia, occasionally jumping out to clear an area on foot.
Unfortunately, the vehicles also prompt the game's worst moment. At one point, you pilot an ultralight helicopter-ish thing, which would be terrific except that it's absurdly touchy to control and tends to explode without any provocation. It's beyond aggravating. Luckily, even though by all appearances the game requires you to use the rickety death trap to advance, you can actually ignore it and simply walk to your final destination. Scripting error? Who knows? If it's an unintended bypass, Mortyr 2 even has better bugs than the original.
Speaking of which, Mortyr's legendarily broken enemy artificial intelligence has been mended to the point where, like most things in the sequel, it's more or less worthy of being included in a professional game. The Nazis aren't supergeniuses, but they'll at least duck behind cover, occasionally retreat, hold their positions while chucking well-aimed grenades at you, and generally make themselves credible nuisances. The sheer number of them that you're often confronted with adds an extra layer of intensity to many firefights as well.
So except for the pathetic multiplayer (and a clangorous orchestral soundtrack that won't shut up), Mortyr 2 is a qualified success. For a budget shooter, it's a slightly above average eight-hour ride. For a Mortyr sequel, it's an improbable Colossus of Rhodes-style feat of engineering.