Fire up your sense of nostalgia, Max Payne has come to Android. Rockstar’s gritty noir third-person shooter has arrived on Android devices, following its launch on iOS back in April. For the most part, those of you familiar with original PlayStation 2/Xbox/PC release will immediately be transported back to 2001 and for the rest of you, this serves as a dark discovery that you’re unlikely to forget.
You play as former NYPD cop and undercover DEA agent Max Payne, as he fights through the city’s Mafia and a gang of Russian mobsters to find the person or people responsible for the murder of his family. When the original console/PC game launched some 11 years ago, it was an absolute hit, praised for its innovative gameplay mechanics and engrossing narrative. It in fact went on to win numerous awards and is still appearing in top games lists of all time.
Aside from the comic-book style panels in cut scenes, blended with the gritty voice over of Max’s exposition, one other key element has made it to the mobile iteration very much intact; the all important bullet time mechanic. As gaming innovation goes, the original Max Payne was one of the first titles to ever use such a feature, especially in a third-person shooter and it’s an element that has unfortunately been so popular that it’s no longer seen as innovation, in fact ten-a-penny in modern shooters.
Due to the age of the game and its new life as a ported title to the mobile platform there are some key positives and negatives with regards to the new gameplay experience. As with the PC version, the textures look crisp and vivid helping hide the game’s age, with this in mind we recommend playing on a high dpi display and preferably a tablet for the best experience. On the flip side, the high resolution graphics almost emphasis the low polygonal models and inanimate facial expressions (including Max’s permanently quizzical look). As such, it doesn’t stack up so well in terms of realism when placed alongside some of the latest original 3D titles that have been built for mobile, for example Modern Combat 3.
The limitations of last decade’s technology play to the game’s favour now, gameplay is amazingly smooth and fluid due to the low demands of the title. Not everyone will appreciate the move to full on-screen controls, but functions like the directional pads only appear when required and the UI remains unobtrusive overall.
Max Payne is a great mobile title based on a classic console game with some obvious shortcomings, but if you can overlook its lack of technical ability by today’s standards in favour of its intriguing story and atmospheric gameplay, you can’t argue with a price tag of £2.30, whether you’re reliving the original experience or discovering it anew.