After successfully squeezing Grand Theft Auto III into iPhones and Android devices, Rockstar Games has rummaged through its back catalogue once more and seen fit to attempt the same trick with Max Payne.
Originally released in 2001, Max Payne is a noir shooter in which you play a hard-boiled detective (that’s Max) who goes on the rampage after junkies murder his wife and baby. Not cheery enough for you? Ok, well this is also the game that introduced ‘bullet time’ to the masses – with a single button press you could slow down time and carry out stylish manoeuvres such as diving sideways across the room while peppering baddies full of bullets. The result was a game that was cinematic, gritty and a hell of a lot of fun.
The move to iThing keeps almost everything intact, including the circa-2001 ragdoll death throes of those you gun down – you know, the effect that makes it look like your enemies’ skeletons are made from pipe cleaners rather than bone.
But moving from console controller to touch screen is the really tricky bit, and it’s something that the reincarnated Max Payne struggles with. Two fingers are never quite enough to execute the ultra-slick bullet time moves that made Max Payne so great, and aiming with a virtual, rather than physical right-stick is – ahem – a payne.
Rockstar has tried to compensate by making the controls highly customizable, and with a fair amount of fiddling you can reach a stage where the touch interface is acceptable rather than problematic. But even then it’s an ever-present distraction and too often we felt that we were fighting against the controls rather than the shotgun-armed Mafia thugs on the screen.
Big fans of the original will probably receive enough of a nostalgia buzz to make the throwaway price of $3.98 well worth it, but anyone new to the series would do much better to download Max Payne and its sequel from Steam instead. Best get your skates on, though; Max Payne 3 hits shops on 1st June.