14
Jun
unnamed

Max Payne for Android has finally arrived, marking the second classic Rockstar title to hit Android (GTA3 having been the first) officially. Let's cut to the chase: for $3, there's really no reason not to buy this game if you own a compatible tablet. Well, maybe if you just hate shooting things.

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There are also quite a few compatible phones, though unless you're using an Xperia Play or Galaxy Note, I can't say I'd recommend spending the money. This was a game designed for 17" monitors and full-size televisions back in 2001, and while it scales well to 10.1", anything smaller than 5" is probably going to be frustrating to work with (that's what she said). The game was simply never meant to be played on a screen that small, and trying it on my One X, it shows.

Gameplay

It's Max Payne. Now, if you're not familiar with Max Payne, it was something of a sea-change in the 3rd person shooter genre when it came out in 2001. Prior to Max Payne, most 3rd person shooters, frankly, sucked. First-person shooters were in a golden age around this time, and I don't know about you, but I avoided third-person shooters like the plague back in the day.

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Max Payne changed a lot of that (much like Grand Theft Auto III did), because it took a bland genre and injected it with two critically important elements: story, and original gameplay mechanics.

Now, in the time of Call of Duty Modern War Machine Triple Deluxe Special Ops 2: Black Edition, we're a bit spoiled when it comes to action titles. Something like Max Payne, compared to contemporary shooters, is hilariously archaic and simplistic on its face. But in 2001, this game really did change the way people thought about action games.

There is plenty of mindless shooting (as seems to be the case with any Rockstar title), but there are also puzzles (really, really simple ones), and one particular mechanic that has influenced gaming to this day: bullet time. Max Payne basically stole "bullet time" from The Matrix (which probably stole it from something else) - you press the Bullet Time button, and suddenly time in the game slows down to a crawl, giving you ample time to pick out individual baddies, bust a substantial number of caps in said baddies' asses, and have a nice cup of coffee. Maybe not the last part.

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Anyway, you have a limited bullet time "power bar" (the amount of time it lasts varies by difficulty setting) that gets charged every time you kill an enemy. It's endlessly entertaining and it's basically half the reason the original release of the game received such critical acclaim.

Otherwise, Max Payne is a pretty generic third-person shooter - you have a standard health bar, a variety of weapons ranging from pistols, shotgun, and machine guns to molotov cocktails, rocket launchers, and crowbars. Combat mechanics are extremely simple (aim and click - all combat is relatively close-range).

One of the problems of converting the game to touch controls has been that is has necessarily lost what little complexity the original had in terms of combat. By default, "soft" auto-aim is enabled, which basically means you aim in a general direction and the game picks out and targets enemies for you. Turning auto-aim off results in the game being nearly unplayable (there is also a "hard" auto-aim setting, as well as "light").

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Unfortunately, Max Payne was just never meant to be played with touch controls, you'll find it's supremely easy to get through the game using soft auto-aim - too easy, in fact. Raising the difficulty doesn't really do much aside from occasionally frustrate you more. The same goes for adjusting the auto-aim settings. The fact is that this game was designed for a mouse and keyboard, and even when translated to gamepads for Xbox and PS2, it just never felt quite right away from its native platform. Touch controls make strafing ridiculously hard, and honestly, the game just gets boring after a while with auto-aim. If you have a controller, the experience will likely be substantially better.

Story / Sound / Graphics

The second key ingredient in Max Payne's success was undoubtedly its gritty pulp fiction storyline. The story is told through comic book panels and narration, and even if it is easy to blow through the game, the story at least keeps you interested. Compared to the kind of storylines we get in literally every other high-end mobile game (read: awful / non-existent), this is lightyears ahead of the competition. You get proper voice acting, a compelling tale, and a soundtrack that wasn't mixed in 2 hours.

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The game is of full, feature length for a title of its age (there's around 1.4GB of additional data to download), so you definitely get a lot of story and content to go through for $3. A lot more, in fact, than most Android games costing twice (or more than twice) that amount. For a casual gamer, the game will probably take a couple of weeks of hour-long gaming sessions to get through. Then there are the secret cheats, special bonus level, and various difficulties to run through. I actually feel sad that some people will feel the need to pirate this game despite its ridiculously reasonable price.

In terms of graphics, you're getting the full 2001 experience. Tegra 3 devices get some enhanced textures and lighting, but given the already aged polygons at play here, the difference isn't huge. You don't play this game for the visuals, you play it because it's a classic. It ran buttery smooth on my Transformer Prime with everything in the video options maxed out, as well.

Conclusion

Should you buy it? If you have a (compatible) tablet, yes, probably. If you have a tablet and a gamepad, yes definitely. With a gamepad you can turn off or at least turn down the otherwise-necessary auto-aim, and the gameplay itself will also just be more rewarding. On touch controls, you can certainly get through it, but it's going to be substantially less enjoyable. But for $3, there are literally hundreds of titles that cost more and that you'll like way less on the Play Store than Max Payne. And if you don't like it, let's be real: you're out the cost of a latte.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Martynas Stonkus

    Now it's Manhunts' turn, R*

    • bat0nas

      Gerai pasakyta :D

      • Martynas Stonkus

        ;)

  • tbealmear

    I wonder if it will allow keyboard and mouse input via keyboard dock and usb mouse on my TF201.  Hmmmm, guess I'll spend the $3 and find out!

  • Myria

    Max Payne wasn't originally a Rockstar game. it was developed by Remedy Entertainment, with Rockstar handling, as they have here, the later ports to the Xbox, PS2, et al.

    • http://twitter.com/sassabrassa2 sassabrassa

       WP is dead as KIN

  • John Petersen

    It doesn't need a Transformer Prime to run buttery smooth. It plays perfectly on my HP Touchpad w/ CM9.  And yes, a gamepad makes all the difference in the world. I'm using an OnLive universal gamepad with a .kl file that fools Android into thinking it's a 360 controller. Works beautifully. I didn't even have to map keys. Max Payne recognized the controller and automatically selected it and disabled on-screen controls. All the buttons were already mapped properly.

    • http://twitter.com/sassabrassa2 sassabrassa

       WP is dead as KIN

      • John Petersen

         Not sure what Windows Phone has to do with my post. Out of box, the Touchpad runs WebOS, but given the context, it's pretty clear that I'm talking about a Touchpad loaded with Android.

  • Abhishek

    "...
    here are also quite a few compatible phones, though unless you're using an Xperia Play (theGalaxy Note isn't supported)...

    Well Note is certainly supported. I can download it on my Note :) Even the support lists shows -

    Android Phones: Motorola Razr, Razr Maxx, Motorola Atrix, Motorola Photon,Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Rezound, HTC One X, HTC One S, HTC Evo 3D, HTC Sensation, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Nexus S,Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy R, Sony Xperia Play, Sony Xperia S, Sony Walkman Z Series Media Player 

    Not sure how you got that :)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Weird, didn't see it when I checked the description. Fixed.

  • http://twitter.com/SoWhy SoWhy

    I'm not buying any app from Rockstar anytime soon. I bought GTA III, which lists - just like Max Payne does - the TF101 as a compatible device but I was unable to play the game at all.

    • Sumatori-kun

      Runs fine on my TF101 (stock 4.0.3), must be how you manage your Transformer. :P

      • http://twitter.com/SoWhy SoWhy

        Probably. Let's try some other ROMs xD

    • Mike Yost

      No problems on my TF101 with GTA III, runs on almost highest settings.

  • Ray

    "That's what she said." 

    HAHAHAHA!!

  • http://www.theandroidgalaxy.com/ SharonLewis

    when is this game going to be available?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1645382940 Красимир Стефанов

    I have tested it with keyboard & mouse connected on Acer Iconia A501 - the keyboard works, but the mouse "emulates" touchscreen - there is no free look (you have to click and hold the mouse to look around).

    Also, tested it on Mele A1000 set-top box - the framerate is decent (considering the device costs ~$90), but the game is unplayable with mouse (the same problem - you have to click & hold to look around).

    On Evo 3D it works perfect - it's playable, controls are OK, and the framerate is very high.

  • Mike Yost

    I have no problems playing this on my Galaxy Nexus, if I want precision controls I will go pull out my laptop. I can deal with crappy controls while on the road. Great game!

  • porcelain

    Xbox controller works for this?