Wednesday, 09 February 2005
To look at it, Max Payne seems to be one of the single silliest games to re-create on a hand held format. Not because itís a poor game of course, I mean, the Max Payne series is one I hold in very high regard, but because of the game being what it is, an all action shooter.
But how have Remedy gone about cramming the joys of Max Payne into the world of the GBA? Quite simply actually. The world that was once a heavily detailed and fully 3D environment on the console and PC incarnations now finds itself in an isometric world reminiscent of the 16-bit days. Now this system obviously has both good and bad points. Iíll start with the good news. Well for starters, itís the only way the game to get on to and work on the handheld format. Secondly and most importantly, it works well. The feel of the movement, the use of bullet time, it just feels right. Unfortunately as I said before, I do have my complaints. Itís quite frequent that as youíll wander into the next room youíll find yourself fired upon by enemies that you cant see due to the constraints of the isometric system. Obviously considering that your health meter does drop fairly quickly, especially when your under fire by enemies in possession of the more powerful weapons later on in the game this is a bit of a problem. To counteract this a new Ďlivesí system has been introduced. If your killed in action, you can then use a life to re-appear, fully healthy, and with the enemies you managed to kill in that specific room already dead. Though it doesnít make up for the constraints of the system entirely, itís definitely a welcome addition.
As this game is based on the first game, the story is pretty much the same. As the aforementioned Mr Payne you start the game in horrific circumstances as you find your wife and baby daughter brutally murdered by junkies high on the new designer drunk V. From then on you spend your time working undercover in the DEA, trying to blow apart the cities organized crime ring. Not too soon after the beginning of the game Max is framed for murder. Not a pretty life really is it? Iím sad to say that due to the constraints placed on the developers by the platform, the opening sequence where you actually discover your murdered family is missing from the game. Iím ever more upset to bring to your attention that a few more sequences like that also manage to find themselves skipped along the way. If you havenít played Max Payne before, you wont miss them, but for those who have itís a little discouraging. The dreaded dream sequences that both thrilled and annoyed in equal measures have disappeared.
Youíll all be no doubt happy to hear the comic book stylised cut scenes make a triumphant return, again showing that you donít need heavily detailed, highly expensive sequences to keep the story trundling along at a hectic pace. In fact, with the same spoken dialogue somehow placed onto the minuscule cartridge, the only real complaint you can have is the fact that handheld screens can be somewhat small!
For those of you who havenít heard of the bullet time feature, which as you should remember was first brought about by Max Payne, Iíll give a quick briefing on this delightful concept. Press the R button and the world around you will slow down to a crawl. However, your aiming reticule will stay at Ďnormalí speed giving you huge advantages in tight spots, allowing you to mercilessly slaughter the enemy who wont know whatís hit them. Despite this feature being copied and shoehorned into virtually every single game since Max Payne was originally released, itís still a fantastic concept that works absolutely perfectly.
As a technical achievement alone Max Payne is worth a purchase. The fact that pretty much the entire first Max Payne title, complete with spoken dialogue intact is something that canít be praised enough. Obviously it has its flaws like any game, and read the review as a whole to see what they are. But the fact canít be changed; Max Payne on the GBA is a entertaining, enjoyable, and a game that any GBA fan would be in their right mind to purchase.