It is, in many ways, incredible that we have Max Payne Mobile at all. This is a full and complete version of the game that was a smash on PS2, Xbox and PC just a few short years ago, and it is easy to forget how amazing it is to be playing a game from the previous generation of consoles on a mobile phone.
Max Payne was a third person hit for Rockstar that won a lot of fans initially for its use of Bullet Time, but kept them coming back because of its great pulp fiction story-line and strong central character. The game follows Max Payne as he attempts to find the men responsible for the murder of his new family, and tells the tale of his unrelenting quest for answers and, ultimately, revenge.
It is a good tale, and told particularly well by voice-overs from the main character, who tells it straight and true, with a hint of wryness to his tone.
The story still feels strong, and does come across well on the small screen of the iPhone. The game is essentially a third person action game, with the kind of dodging, diving and slow-mo action that younger iOS players may only know from 9mm, a Gameloft title. Here, however the play is far better, and is mixed up by stealth and platforming sections.
The shooting action is pulled off surprisingly well on iPhone, with some decent touch screen controls, which also have plenty of options, making sure that you never miss a real controller while fighting. The rest of the time, you will most definitely miss a real controller, particularly with the occasional platforming sections. An early area where you have to jump between trains is an annoying indicator of things to come. Nothing is really broken here, but where the original could be a bit nit picky with platforming, here the touch screen just adds to the problem.
I found that one of my favourite parts of Max Payne, where you take on a stealth section with a baseball bat, really irritating here. All is not lost, however, as the shooting sections, which are really the most important part, are fine and just about as enjoyable as there were a few years ago.
The game itself is the same as it was, as it still gets stronger towards the latter half of play, with the final third brilliant fun. New players may fail to see the point during the first few hours, but trust me when I say that the second half of the game is truly pulse pounding stuff, and is really quite gripping when combined with the story. 9mm simply can’t touch this, especially when you consider that this really is a full console game, one that has a meaty 15-20 hour story mode.
The graphics are reproduced well, and from what I could tell everything runs smoothly. I tested this on both an iPhone 4 and a 3GS, and it is fair to say that the game runs a bit smoother on an iPhone 4, but the 3GS version is still decent and perfectly playable. The Retina enhanced graphics look pretty good if you have the right device(and yes that includes the new iPad). The only downside concerning the graphics are the in-game faces. They are just textures painted on very square heads, and it does look more odd today than it did upon the games’ original release. It is unfortunate, as it does look a bit silly, and detracts from the game more now than it ever did.
Brilliantly, there is full Rockstar Social Club support for the game(on devices from the iPhone 4 and up only I’m afraid), which is a really nice addition by Rockstar, and yes those infamous cheats are still in this game. As I said, there are plenty of control options, although I found the default set was just fine, and there is also a full tutorial level, and a sneak peak at the imminent Max Payne 3 for consoles.
There is easily 15 hours of gameplay here, more when you finish the story and for the price of $3, this really is a must buy and a universal app too. A classic game, brought to iOS with a lot of care and attention, Max Payne Mobile is brilliant. A few irritations persist, but this has to be one of the best action games on iPhone, with an excellent story, explosive action and great Bullet Time moments to remember.