Bringing the Payne.
Take those rose-tinted googles off, my friend. Time has not been kind to Max Payne in the decade since it first appeared on PC and consoles. But wait! Perhaps these retro looks might actually do the game some favours in this new iOS port of Rockstar’s classic game.
First things first, though. The graphics in this ancient (by modern gaming standards) shooter really show their age. Textures appear flat, like wallpaper wrapped around the 3D figures. Faces look odd and mouths stay shut while dialogue is spoken. It’s no different to how the game looked back in the day, of course, but set against even the current crop of iOS games, Max Payne harks back to the frontier days of 3D textures.
But on the bright side, this does mean that Apple’s devices can run the game without breaking too much of a sweat and even the darker areas are fairly easy on the eye. Max’s trademark grimace, a sort of constipated grin, remains intact throughout and, above all, the game remains authentic. Background scenery is actually surprisingly detailed. Stopping to take in the scenery when not firing bullets in to enemies, it's surprising just how much attention to detail Rockstar were able to fit in without slowing the game down on the old hardware.
The other gripe a port usually brings with it is in the control system, and it’s no different here. Just as with Rockstar’s other port, Grand Theft Auto 3, the controls are fully adjustable and can be placed anywhere on the screen to make this a little more comfortable. But even with the layout set to your own adjustments, virtual buttons are no match for the real thing during a tense shoot-out. It’s certainly nowhere near unplayable, but it is something that needs to be taken into account.
Some may argue that the gameplay is also showing its age. While Max Payne doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a shooter, the bullet time (a new feature to games at the time) and the well paced noir-style thriller really do raise the game beyond its simple run and gun approach. I’d argue that it’s just as playable and unique now as it was back in the day.
The voice acting still sends a shiver down my spine, for the right reasons. Max is suitably gravel voiced and full of self doubt while the characters around him go from shades of grey to pure villian exactly where they should. Coupled with an intriguing tale of corruption told through comic cut scenes and Max's voice overs during the game, many newer games could learn from this game's pacing and atmosphere.
On the iPhone Max Payne takes a little getting used to, but it’s still a good game that, despite the ravages of time, is well worth a play through. Upgrade to an iPad and it becomes more of an experience, especially on the Retina display of the new iPad.
Max Payne, then, overcomes the perils of aged graphics and gameplay because the more interesting elements help to keep it fresh and unique. It still remains an excellent game and one that is well worth playing through or, if you played it the first time, revisiting.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 7
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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