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Max Payne Mobile Review: A Great Port, but not without Complications

Anyone picking up a 3rd-person shooter for iPad or iPhone—especially a port—should know what to expect by now: Developers have proved incredibly adept at bringing great visuals and storylines to these touch-controlled renderings of console masterpieces, but there remains something missing in the department of controls… That said, Max Payne Mobile Max Payne Mobile - Rockstar Games stands with the best of the ports. Just like they did with Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games has delivered a faithful adaptation that is sure to please loyal fans of Max Payne because, well, it’s exactly the same thing… So if you can handle the sometimes-clumsy controls that go along with this kind of game on an iOS device, feel free to stop reading now and head to the App Store to pick this one up.

Max Payne is a story about a fugitive cop who gets framed for murder. After losing his family in the most brutal of ways, he is then hunted by both the cops and the mob… Such is the story that many experienced back in the day when this game was new on consoles, and it’s the same plotline recreated in this mobile version. Even if you think you’re fresh on the details of Max’s story, one could make a pretty good argument that dropping $2.99 for Max Payne Mobile is a pretty great way to prepare for diving into Max Payne 3—which just released on Xbox 360 and PS3… Story wise, nothing is lost in the iOS translation of Max Payne. In fact, the epic cut scenes look especially vivid when played out on the Retina Display of the new iPad.

As you’d expect, the area of Max Payne Mobile that’s not quite as perfectly translated to iOS is the controls. 1st person shooters are hard enough for developers to nail, and when you add in the layers of 3rd person and Bullet Time, things get understandably sticky. The game is completely playable using the virtual joysticks Rockstar provides, but this method lacks the finesse that made the slow-motion gunplay so enjoyable back when it was introduced on a physical controller. Rockstar Games probably wasn’t interested in overhauling how shooters work on iPhone and iPad, and that’s okay. Instead, they simply brought us a mobile version of Max Payne that is equal to Grand Theft Auto III in how it recreates classic gaming moments—and that’s nothing to complain about.

The choice of whether or not you want to get involved with Max Payne Mobile ultimately rests on your past experience with the franchise. If you already know how great the story and gameplay of the original were and just want to carry a semblance of that in your pocket—this is your game. If you’re looking for a standalone shooter specifically designed to perform wonderfully on a touch-screen device, then I’ll be honest, I think the App Store has better to offer. Loyal fans commenting on Max Payne Mobile’s iTunes page will take issue with that statement, but I think they’re speaking more to the greatness of the franchise rather than it’s true performance on the iOS platform… We’ll continue to welcome Rockstar ports into the App Store (and I’m sure the sales of these games will reflect that), but they should be seen as what they are: backups of games that were a lot more engaging and polished in their first life.

Our Score: 3.5 Out of 5

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