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Developer: Rockstar Games
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Max Payne Mobile demonstrates the power of iOS devices but at the same time, it shows the limitations of the small screen space of the iPhone and the touch screen control mechanics.

A conversion of the 11 year old game of the same name, Max Payne Mobile follows the tale of toughened rogue New York cop Max Payne as he turns into a one man army against drugs and the gangs that distribute them. When it first came out on the PC, Max Payne was heralded for its new approach to story telling. It followed more typical cinematic traditions than other games of the time, with its film noir tone. It was gritty then but amongst more stereotypically cheery fare on the App Store, it’s a reminder that more serious gaming can be done on the format.

Besides the gritty storytelling, Max Payne was best known for being the first game to implement bullet time – the ability to slow down time and line up shots better, while looking just a bit cooler. It’s been used in many games since and has very much revolutionized shooting games.

Bullet time isn’t really needed during the first completion of Max Payne Mobile. The first time round must be played on Fugitive mode, the easiest of difficulties, and it makes for an incredibly easy game. Auto aim is switched on by default and it’s one of the most forgiving auto aims I’ve ever seen. This is, admittedly, quite useful given the amount of time it’ll take to adjust to the controls.

It was never going to be possible to be as precise playing Max Payne Mobile as it was the original with keyboard and mouse controls, but Rockstar Games has gone some way to softening the blow. The controls are quite customizable with the ability to move the virtual buttons around but on the small screen of the iPhone, it is cumbersome.

Spend some time with Max Payne Mobile and the controls will start to gel together, but they’ll never feel as intuitive as the original’s. It rarely feels natural or comfortable for extended periods of play, and it is awkward to heal up midway through a frantic gunfight.

The controls make me question the future of such extraordinary titles on iOS devices. Rockstar Games has clearly done everything possible to make them work but there’s still that sense that this would all be so much easier with a physical controller. Work through that and Max Payne Mobile is as enjoyable as it was 11 years ago. Priced at $2.99, it’s a bargain, but don’t mistake that for perfection.

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