Lode Runner fans will be pleased to see that Presage has managed to keep the addictive gameplay intact with all the new graphical improvements. In contrast to most other puzzle game remakes/sequels in which 3D bells and whistles somewhat diminish the fun of the original (e.g. Montezuma's Return, 3D Lemmings), Lode Runner 2 uses graphics to its advantage to enhance gameplay, which has remained the same since the Apple II days. Your goal is to run around each level, collecting all the gold, while trying to avoid being killed by wandering monks. The hole you dig to find gold can also be used to trap, and temporarily kill, the monks. A combination of skillful digging, dodging, and collecting opens an escape portal to the next level. GameSpot's thorough review says it all about why the game is so addictive:
"Instead of moving linearly through the 144 levels of Lode Runner Returns, occasionally pausing to watch the movies, acquire new power-ups, and change backgrounds, Lode Runner 2 lets you choose which world you want to start and any level therein. There's even a handy set of tutorial levels that familiarize yourself with the power-ups, bombs, and maneuvers you'll need.
Lode Runner 2 has three types of monk. Blue monks are blind and follow a set pattern of movement. The only way to be killed by one is to step directly in its path. Purple monks are unpredictable; these most resemble the monks of the original. Black monks constantly chase you no matter where you go - and are very difficult to outsmart. This combination makes for more fun in eluding the hooded pests and makes you smarter in your strategy to defeat them.
The 3D world also paves the way for a wide variety of bombs. Several different bomb configurations let you blow up different configurations of blocks - and monks, should they be in the way. If you get caught in the line of fire, you're toast. Those who remember the different power-ups gathered as you progressed through Lode Runner Returns will be disappointed in the lack of a few (I really miss the hangman's noose and the goo), but the new ones work well in this environment. One especially fun power-up is the beach ball, which turns you into a one-runner monk-killing machine.
My only disappointment with the single-player game is that there are only 75 levels. And, unlike the 144 linear levels in the first, each world starts at the most basic, easy level and gets progressively more difficult. After getting up to speed on my digging, bombing, and power-upping, I wanted more challenging single-player levels. My one complaint turned me to a new direction, though - multiplayer. Unlike Lode Runner Returns, Lode Runner 2 has as many multiplayer levels as single-player levels, and multiplayer really makes this game fun. In the years between the two releases, multiplayer gaming has made such great strides, it's hard to imagine two people sitting down at the same keyboard to play the original."
I personally found Lode Runner 2 a bit less creative than Lode Runner On-Line in terms of level design. Perhaps it has something to do with 3D making it much more difficult to design devious levels. Still, the different types of monks make up for this, and in the end I find the game no less challenging than its predecessors. In short, Lode Runner 2 is simply a must-have for all Lode Runner fans, and a fitting end to the timeless series. Highly recommended!