Codename MAT II, ZX Spectrum

Codename MAT II is the sequel to Derek Bewster‘s acclaimed space combat game. It was published by Domark in the UK in 1985.

As a sequel, Codename MAT II is quite disappointing. Graphically: it’s something of an improvement over the original. The gun cannons now animate in a pleasing way (showing recoil) and the addition of the laser is a good thing. That said: there are quite a few elements that, in my opinion, are a step backwards.

For starters: the ‘warp’ system in this game is fiddly and unfathomable, whereas in the first Codename MAT it was simple. Warping to different sectors is done by entering an angle and a warp speed, which is difficult to do, even when you know the key presses to do it. Which makes warping somewhere specific very difficult. It’s a crappy system that kills the game. When I looked on YouTube for answers to the ‘warp’ problem I saw a number of terrible videos about the game, all of which skirted the subject of the warp system. The people making the videos didn’t know (and couldn’t be bothered to find out). The instructions (that come with the game) don’t even explain the warp system properly… Does anyone know how the warp system works? I figured out the keys, but relating the numbers to locations is the problem. I gave up on it.

Another big downside to Codename MAT II is the fact that, this time, you’re protecting an array of space satellites (that the aliens are attacking), instead of planets, so the most interesting part of the first game (planet approach and docking) are missing from this. And you’re supposed to be able to move the satellites to plug gaps in the line when the aliens destroy any of them. But don’t ask me how – I didn’t manage to do it.

Codename MAT II also doesn’t have rear view cannons (like the first game, or Star Raiders, which it copies). Features such as sector maps and scanners and rear views are all relegated to a small window in the bottom left-hand side of the cockpit, and – rather than making the game better – have unfortunately led it astray.

While I would love to say that Codename MAT II is a great game (I love the original), I actually have to cut through all the nonsense said about it and state that it is really not very good at all. And that warp feature is rubbish… If someone discovers how to use it, please let me know…

More: Codename MAT II on Wikipedia

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