There is no point beating around the bush, Max Payne redefined the action game genre back in 2001.
It brought storytelling not seen previously in games such as Doom, and Quake, but still retained the same level of intensive action. Max is a character you either love, or completely loathe. In that sense he is kind of chiselled out of the same rock, as Duke Nukem. But where Duke goes over the top in raunchy jokes, and unnecessary roughness Max is a more low profile character. He is almost depressing at times, but still has ample of time to pull off some wicked one-liners. As story lines go Max Payne might not be accomplished in the same way as Mass Effect, Halo or Crysis. Still the little specks of information told by Max, and shown in drawn slides between levels stick with me. Heck I remembered the opening lines, and the end line by line even 11 years after playing the game on a crappy old PC.
What has changed since then? Not much really. The most significant change is perhaps my interpretation of the story. 11 years ago I saw Max, as a madman responsible for some wicked shit. Now I rather see him as a misunderstood cop who got to be in the wrong place, and saying the wrong things to the wrong people. This to me is a great aspect of the story, and character of Max Payne. It changes depending on who you are, and what your experiences are.
Back in 2001 Max Payne stormed onto the scene, and brought a new storm of accusations that video game violence spawns real life violence. It is true that Max Payne is a violent game, and there are no other solutions to progress than killing 90% of all the characters you encounter. Sure you can sneak by the drug addicts asleep in the corners, but to be safe you better put them out of their misery, right? This is perhaps the only aspect that can still be subject for discussion, as the druggies are innocent of sorts. The media roar against the violence in Max Payne came to an end in the autumn of 2001 when Grand Theft Auto 3 was released on PS2. Yes Rockstar certainly had to keep their PR people on their toes in 2001.
Max Payne is a third person shooter where you run around the streets, and buildings of New York. During three days this rampage goes on, and the game is perfectly divided into chapters giving both a sense of urgency and progression. Max gets punished personally by the bad guys that go after his family, and from that point on mercy is not an option.
The touch controls should work well considering that I used to play this game with a mouse, and keyboard. Sadly there are some glaring issues, and the main one to me is the inclusion of the bullet time function. Don’t get me wrong, as I really enjoy bullet time. This slow motion effect that The Matrix introduced two years earlier in 1999 is one of the coolest aspects of Max Payne. Slowing down the enemies, and diving while shooting is just badass. In this mobile version though I found myself using it just for fun, and never to better my odds of survival. It is much easier to just run around, and gun down the enemies without it. This was never the case on the PC where diving down a set of stairs guns blazing was both cool, and useful.
Another aspect of the controls that is downright awful is trying to navigate, and jump between beams for example. Max has never been an agile character, and with temperamental view controls it can anger me quite a bit. It is really annoying when Max has been shot by about 20 bullets without dying, and then falls off a ledge a couple of feet to his death.
Max Payne hasn’t aged that well when it comes to the graphics. There have been some clear touch-ups to the surfaces, and especially building look good. Max himself looks blocky though, and to some the weird plastered on smirk on his face might be provocative. There are also some issues with size, and perspective. 11 years ago this might have been a must due to technical limitations, but now huge doors for example look weird.
Being a mobile game there are some issues as well with saving for example. The autosave feature saves at the end of levels, but I have got it erased and been forced to restart the entire game. Make sure to pause regularly, and save the game manually.
Max Payne Mobile pays tribute to the original, and if you have never played the original you owe it to yourself to give it a go. It is by no means a perfect game, and you will get annoyed with Max spastically drying to jump, or getting stuck on something. Still it is an important piece of gaming history, and despite the flaws it is highly enjoyable due to a great story, amazing voice acting and relentless action.
Max Payne Mobile $2.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Rockstar Games, Inc.