Max Payne GBA
by Rockstar Games
Developed by Mobius Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Over the last few years Rockstar Games have published some of the finest games on PC, Xbox and of course the PlayStation 2. One of their most stylish titles is Max Payne, the tale of the hard-boiled detective for who life goes horribly wrong as he gets framed more times than the average pool ball. Of course we all know that Max Payne was a sensation on the PC (as was the sequel, Max Payne 2 The Fall of Max Payne) but could anyone seriously have hoped that it would make a smooth transition to the Game Boy Advance? After all we are talking about a hand held console that has a very limited amount of resources compared to an average PC. Well I for one am surprised, no, make that amazed, to see how well Max Payne has been ported to the GBA.
It's just possible you haven't played Max Payne before, yes I know it's highly unlikely, so I'll just go over the story one more time (feel free to jump to the next paragraph if you're among the millions of gamers who have already played the game). Max Payne is the hard boiled undercover cop who is on a mission to eradicate the lethal drug Valkyr from New York. Of course Max has ruffled some of the Mob's top brass and not only is Max's family killed but he is framed for their murder and that of Alex, his friend. All of this is too much to take for Max and vengeance is the name of the game.
As I've already mentioned, it's very surprising how much of the original Max Payne has been fitted into the GBA version. Max still has bullet time which enables him, for a limited amount of time, to go into a kind of slow motion in order to pick off multiple enemies. He can also shootdodge, a sideward jump in slow motion, just like in the PC version. The flashback sequences have been removed though although this doesn't make much difference to be perfectly honest. You'll find that Max has access to the same weapons such as the M9, Pump-action shotgun and of course the Molotov Cocktail. Max still has to use painkillers to heal himself. You can't save the game anywhere you like though. Once you reach a save point you'll be asked if you want to save. Should you get killed you'll have a limited amount of continues available to you which are refreshed once you make it to the next save point.
On every other format Max Payne has been played from a third person perspective but this just isn't possible to do on a Game Boy Advance so alterations had to be made. Mobius made the decision to change the viewpoint to an isometric angle. All things considered I think this was a wise move but there are, however, some restrictions with this alteration. The biggest one is that you can often hear your enemies firing at you before you actually see them. Now as you can imagine this puts deaf gamers at a disadvantage as you'll more than likely already have taken some damage by the time you actually see the enemies. With some clever use of bullet time though you can often work around this problem. Generally I was pleased with the look of Max Payne and think Mobius have done a very good job. I played the game on a Game Boy Advance SP and I tried playing with the light turned off and found it a little too dark so it's best enjoyed on either Game Player, GBA SP or a standard GBA providing you have a light for it.
If you were to ask us which console was the most accommodating for deaf gamers we would have to say the Game Boy Advance. Why? Well the main reason is that because of it's limited resources you're always guaranteed that all dialogue will be in text with only the odd snippet of verbal information. At least that was true before Max Payne appeared on the console. Unbelievably, and hats off to Mobius, the game contains a staggering 30 minutes of verbal dialogue. The graphic novel moments, that replace cutscenes in Max Payne, are spoken. Don't worry though because all this speech is fully subtitled by default so deaf gamers aren't at any disadvantage but I have to say again that I nearly fell over with amazement when I found out just how much speech is in the game.
In the PC version Max would often make comments that were not subtitled. These comments only appear in text (in a white dialogue box) so for the first time you'll be able to enjoy the full dry repartee of Max Payne. The action will stop until you've cleared these comments, by pressing a button, so you can read them at your leisure. All conversations appear in this manner too. In fact for deaf gamers this is the only version of Max Payne that allows you to follow the story perfectly. Throughout the game there are various objects that you can interact with and pick up. You are notified of any items you obtain and any object that can be interacted with will be highlighted by a large exclamation mark. This is extremely useful because it's not always possible to see everything because of the fixed camera angle.
On the whole I think this is a very good Game Boy Advance version of Max Payne and whether or not you've played the PC, PlayStation 2 or Xbox version of the game it's an enjoyable shooter that is quite unlike any other title on the GBA. There are one or two problems though such as enemies are usually audible before they are visible but it isn't as big a problem as you think it would be. You could argue that it doesn't last too long as it's only going to take around six hours at the most to complete. Still it's a very enjoyable game and all things considered Max Payne has arrived in style on the Game Boy Advance.
Game Rating: 8.4/10
An impressive GBA adaptation of a very good PC third person shooter. Max Payne arrives in style on the GBA and is quite unlike any other game on the console.
No problems at all for deaf gamers.