“M” Rated GBA Game
Despite being on a very small screen, Max Payne for GBA contains many of the game play elements that made it a huge hit for the PC. The isometric view and bullet time work surprisingly well on GBA.
Max Payne is all about violence, dark themes, action, and gore. The GBA carries on this lineage with honor. The story revolves around thugs, murderers, crime lords, and even witches. With all these dark themes and elements, the GBA grows up from a small “kiddy” system to a full-fledged ravenous bully.
This installment of Max Payne plays out in a 3D isometric view similar to Boktai or the Hulk. Isometric views can sometimes distort the play control of the character or object that you are controlling. “Up” on the D-pad doesn’t always make you go up. It can take you up and to the right. Luckily, in the options menu, the player can change the play control to personal preference. The rest of the control scheme works well. “A” and “B” jump and shoot while “R” slows down the action and “L” changes weapons.
What would Max Payne be without bullet time? Once the “R” button is held down, everything slows to a crawl, giving Max an edge against his enemies. While in bullet time, Max can rotate 360 degrees to dispose of bad guys in any direction. All this is possible because the character models are actually 3D instead of 2D sprites. All character models lack any significant details like facial features, but they are nicely rendered and move in a life-like way.
Because the game is 3D, there are some collision problems. Many times I was clearly stationed behind a wall or pillar, but enemies still shot me. Also, attacking baddies can be iffy. While diving in bullet time, I would be aiming at least 45 degrees off from the nearest target but the shot still landed. However, even though these are all problems, I’m willing to accept them because I understand how hard it is to program the GBA to fully support 3D models and environments.
Shockingly, this GBA cart contains voice work for every cut scene. This GBA game probably has the most voice work ever on a handheld system. Even though there is tons of voice acting, it is not hard to tell that it is heavily compressed to conserve on file size. All the voices can be understood but they are nowhere as clear as it can be. While the music in the game fits the mood of what is going on the screen, it lacks overall variation. Basically, there are two musical scores that play in this game. There is a slow, sneaky kind of tune when there are no enemies present. Then the music kicks into high gear when enemies appear on the screen.
The game makes up for lack of variation in the music department by supplying the player with many weapon choices. Everything from a single pistol, to double Uzi’s, to hand grenades can all be obtained. Switching weapons is relatively easy and fast. After the “L” button has been held down, all the available weapons appear as small icons. The player then selects a weapon with the D-pad. This is a great way to quickly switch weapons. Each weapon works best for different situations. Ammo, along with health restoring items, can be found after killing enemies or by interacting with the environment. Crates can be destroyed and medicine cabinets can be opened to find hidden items. Pretty much every object on screen is interactive. Toilets and sinks can be flushed, pop machines can be shot apart, couches can be destroyed, beds can vibrate, and even bullet holes remain in the walls. When you shoot an enemy, his blood splatters all over the wall. The use of many different weapons and loads of interactive objects give the game plenty of distinction.
There are two main points that bothered me most playing this game. First, enemies will shoot you even when they are not on screen. Getting shot off screen by these invisible enemies will frustrate the player. And secondly, this game is impossible to beat without using the slow motion bullet time. Every enemy that the player encounters must involve slowing down time. The player will be quickly disposed of if it isn’t used. Using the slow motion technique to take out enemies is cool, but it grows old when you have to do it every time you want to kill an enemy.
After finishing the game, a few extras are unlocked. The player can play any level at anytime and all the cut scenes can be viewed from a menu option. Besides the level select, extras such as infinite ammo also become available. The game has twelve missions that take about four hours to complete. I feel that the game is a little on the short side and the player might not go back and play it again. Killing every enemy by slowing time will prevent some players from playing this game a second time through.
If you are looking for a mature rated game on GBA, this should be your pick. The quest is a little short but it is enjoyable. Even though extras become unlocked after the game is completed, players will probably not want to go back because they already killed hundreds of enemies all using the same repetitive technique. Sadly, there is no multiplayer option but the single player adventure will satisfy gamers. The voice work will keep the player entertained during cut scenes but the music could use a little bit of variation. It’s good to see a bloody, violent, and dark themed game on GBA. If you can’t get your hands on the PC version, the GBA game will supply a decent substitute.