Review: Max Payne Mobile (iOS)
Title: Max Payne Mobile
Platform: iPhone, iOS (reviewed on both)
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Tagline: A ballet of bullets translated to touch controls
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy it Already
In 2001, Max Payne released from little known developer Remedy Entertainment to wide acclaim and rave reviews. Max Payne delivered a noir story, thick with atmosphere and dripping with John Woo styled action that players devoured. The game created a new genre and a bar set high for future games that would follow in its footsteps.
Fast forward 11 years and Rockstar Games, the present owner of the Max Payne brand, has released this classic original to iOS devices complete with HD graphics. It is hard to think of a title like Max Payne – which was dependent on responsive controls – to have acceptable performance on a touch device, but it ended up surprising me on so many levels. Rockstar seems to have figured out this transition to touch interfaces, and Max Payne delivers on quality controls and solid action for a new audience.
I could dive into so many different aspects of Max Payne Mobile, but it is hard to go anywhere else but the controls, as moving a classic to a wholly different device could end in complete failure. Rockstar seems to understand that customization is the key to making controls comfortable and successful, and Max Payne Mobile allows for extensive customization and control schemes. There are no less than five different pre-programmed control options, and from there, you can tweak and customize layout of the controls. I found myself tinkering with the controls until I found a completely comfortable scheme. Buttons for most actions are clearly laid out, within easy reach and never seems to cover up the action that is happening on screen. I don’t play many mobile games but this might be the first one of this caliber and quality that felt completely comfortable playing for long periods of time.
Much has been made of the HD upscale of the graphics in Max Payne mobile, but trying to make a game from 2001 look stunning is a difficult task. Sure, it does look fantastic on iPhone, and moving up to the iPad version really makes things look sharp, but the game engine has not aged well, and things like mitten hands or the infamous Max Payne poop face are still here. Yes, it does lose a lot of its jagged edges, but it is still a game build on an engine many years old and from that you get a game that looks dated.
Even with that dated look, Max Payne’s big hook of a story still holds up after all these years. I had not played the game in a few years now, and yet, I hung on every word that came through the cut scenes and informational moments of gameplay. The game’s narrative is dripping with noir and descriptive narratives. I mean, how many times have you heard the phrase, “the dark of night came down with a deep bravado” in daily nomenclature? The story is the essence of pulp fiction and weaves a tale of deception, deceit and revenge. Max is fueled by the horror he has endured in his life and the fact that everything was taken from him in the blink of an eye. It is a fun jaunt, and keeps you looking for every morsel of story that you can find, if only to hear some of the alliteration used by the writers.
As I played through the seven to eight hour campaign, I did run into one minor issue with Max Payne, when played on an iPhone. The game uses comic book styled information panes to drive home narrative, but it is incredibly hard to read on an iPhone due to the size of the screen. Playing on an iPad, I had none of this, but those of us moving up in age and in need of reading glasses might find ourselves squinting to read the text in these scenes. Sure, all of the cut scenes have voice over, but sometimes, you might be playing with the sound off or low if you are without headphones and it can be a burden to read. Some might be upset to hear that Rockstar decided to tie this into their Social Club media site and therefore does not have Gamecenter achievements. Okay, so it is not an issue, but some might be sensitive to games that want you to sign into another third party site in order to unlock achievements and other items.
At the end of the day, Rockstar Games delivers on a top notch experience that moved from the big screen of consoles and PCs to the small screens of mobile gaming with Max Payne mobile. With the flexibility of the controls and the great story, the game delivers on all levels. If you have not experienced the original, or want to relive the memories in a new manner, you will find lots to enjoy with Max Payne Mobile.
- Highly customizable controls
- Fantastic pulp noir story
- Great translation from big screen to portable device
Mission Impossible 2:
- Even in HD, it looks dated
- Tied into Rockstar Social Club
Max Payne is a game that features all kinds of wonderful content. However, that content is in no way, shape or form suitable for kid consumption. Four letter expletives abound, lots of people get shot, and the camera loves to pan around that final kill in excruciating detail. Drug use and distribution are heavily tied into the story as well. So no, you will not see a Disney animated feature based on Max Payne, and you should probably hold off until well into their teen years before your child plays Max Payne Mobile.