Max Payne on mobile.
Actually... yes. And it's pretty darn good too! Max Payne for iOS is a direct port of the original 2001 game by Remedy Entertainment (who later produced the rather phenomenal Alan Wake after selling all their rights to Max Payne to Take-Two Interactive).
This time around the port is at the hands of Rockstar Games, developers of Max Payne 3 and the infamous Grand Theft Auto series.
If for some reason you didn't play this film noir detective shooter first time around, with it's rather exceptional use of slow-mo bullet time, now is your chance! If you own an iOS device that is... Luckily it's a universal app so you only shell out your cash the once.
To be honest the iPhone screen is rather small and it looks and plays much better on the bigger screen of the iPad. Regardless of platform however, this doesn't stop it being a great deal of fun.
The touch screen controls are easy and intuitive, with the exception of bullet time which can on occasion be buggy and difficult to manipulate. The story and nostalgia of this title greatly compensate for it however.
From the beginning, the graphic novel art style of Max Payne set it apart, and this port is no exception. The comic book panels that narrate the story throughout look beautifully rendered, and the writing, which could in any other setting sound incredibly cheesy, is a fitting tribute to the classic film noir detective genre.
Control wise, the dual analogues are invisible, but if you've ever played a touchscreen game before you have an immediate sense of how they work. You move through the environments with your left thumb and look around with your right. It can be somewhat difficult to interact with objects however as you need to negotiate Max to within an acceptable distance of an object and wait for the interaction button to appear. The analogues aren't particularly useful in this regards and you find yourself maneuvering back and forth to try and interact with a locker for example.
The shoot icon is on the top right hand side of the screen and if you're playing on normal difficulty, it pretty much auto-aims for you. The auto-aim really is essential however as the analogue sticks aren't nearly as accurate as they could be - or as a keyboard and mouse to be frank. If you're trying to get used to the touchscreen controls this is rather handy. You still need to be quick off the mark to retaliate to gunfire however, because enemies are incredibly accurate and you can rack up damage quickly if you're not vigilant.
The bullet time button is situated just below the shoot icon, with the jump button situated towards the lower half of the screen. On the iPhone in particular, the close proximity of these buttons makes for a rather cramped interface, that works much better on the larger iPad screen.
One thing I cannot emphasise enough as you play through Max Payne is SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! You must save continuously! Because this is a port of an older game, today's luxury of auto-save is simply not available, so you'll need to save often if you want to avoid repeating sections over and over again. To be honest I would have thought Rockstar would build this functionality into the port as it's not as simple as pressing good old F5 any more, but maybe they were trying to maintain authenticity. That said, like so many things, you get used to it after a while.
Max Payne Mobile will take you a good 10 hours or so to play through, and although the graphics look blocky and haven't really aged very well, in this small format they look a great deal crisper than playing it on a big screen.
Max Payne is still one game you'll keep coming back to... because I just need to get past this stage... It's addictive as ever, has an amazing sense of style and atmosphere, and for a full game it's incredibly cheap!
For those with limited bandwidth, be aware that this is a massive 1.1GB download! Even on my high speed connection it took a while, so if your connection is slower, be prepared to leave it overnight.
Max Payne Mobile might not be the best port ever, but if you loved the original game you will undoubtedly love this mobile stroll down memory lane.
Fantastic art style
Full PC game for a mere R23.00
Analogue sticks aren't always accurate
Should I buy this game?
Hell yes! What are you waiting for?
Check out Max Payne on the US iTunes store for $2.99. If you need further convincing, get yourself all hot and bothered by watching the original E3 trailer below.
EDIT: Max Payne will be out on Android on 26th April 2012.