Archives for August 2006

“Max”imum blood

Max Payne GBAA while back, during one of my CAG-fueled shopping sprees, I picked up a copy of Max Payne for the Game Boy Advance. I had never played Max Payne on the PC (which, by all accounts, was a great game) or the sequel. In fact, my copy of Max Payne sat on my shelf, untouched and unopened, for months while I wasted time on losers like Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the DS. It’s a shame too, because Max Payne is the most of fun I’ve had with a GBA game in a long time. (Even though I’m playing it on my DS Lite)

Max Payne is an undercover cop who’s life is torn apart after his wife and child are brutally murdered, killed by a couple junkies high on a new designer drug called “V.” Max quits the police force, joins the DEA and goes undercover to infiltrate the drug rings pushing V on the street. He’s framed for a murder he actually witnessed and is now on the run. He’s basically got nothing to lose. The story is told from Max’s point of view, and is a spiral into the depths of organized crime, government conspiracies, and Norse mythology. If that alone is not enough to convince to pick this game up, hopefully the rest of the review will.

The hallmark of the Max Payne series has been “bullet-time,” the time-bending film technique used by John Woo and over-popularized in the Matrix Trilogy. It’s basically slowing down time, except for your trigger finger, so you can manuever, mid-flight, to send bullets flying in all directions. From what I’ve read, it works great in the PC version of the game. I wasn’t sure how it’d translate to the GBA version, but it works excellent. Jumping into a room, a 9mm in each hand and dispatching all the bad guys in a matter of seconds while your jump for cover is pure fun.

Max Payne

Dodge this.

The game is played from the isometric, 3rd-person view. On the pixelated GBA screen, 3D games often suffer from slowdown and flicker but this isn’t been the case with Max Payne. The controls take a while to get used to, seeing how the movement is at an angle and the directional pad isn’t, but once you’re used to it, it’s not a big problem. Visually, they’ve somehow fit everything from the big screen onto the little GBA screen, which is quite a feat.

As far as sound is concerned, I don’t think this much mileage has been squeezed out of the Game Boy Advance. The story is delivered in stylized cut-scenes, each narrated by Max himself, and they sound suprisingly good. There’s only a few musical themes, but they create a gritty and dark atmosphere.

But the most striking aspect of the game has been the amount of blood! Every gunshot, every explosion, ever swing of the lead pipe solicits a spray of blood. With the lack of gory detail, those little red pixels splattered on the wall are still able to invoke quite a visceral experience. Couple that with the blast of a shotgun and the grunt of a man injured and you’ve captured the essence that is Max Payne. A man after revenge, with nothing to lose. It’s fierce.

So fierce that I’m surprised it’s a GBA game. On the system where Pokemon and Sponge Bob rules, it was interesting that Rockstar would port such a violent game over to the kid-friendly GBA. Max Payne is anything but kid-friendly. But it is rated M, so any parent would be wise to avoid it.

And any “mature” gamer would be wise to pick it up.

Geoffrey Chaucer is a gamer

This is a bit old, but if you happen to be a gamer and an English major (or enjoyed the Cantebury Tales in high school) you’ll get a kick out of Chaucer’s blog entry on his experience with the ‘Exboxe CCCLX.’ (via kottke)

In my hands

Age of Empires DSButtonmashing.com friend Bobster lent me his copy of Age of Empires: The Age of Kings for the DS. Another turn-based strategy game for the DS, this one set in the Age of Empires “world.” I’m quite excited to see how the real-time-strategy gameplay translates to the Dual Screen beauty. Impressions to follow.

Wii news and links

Sometimes I forget that buttonmashing.com is one of the only sites people (read: my friends) visit for gaming news. Often forget to post links to exciting news I find, especially when it comes to the Nintendo Wii, because I figure most of you have already seen it somewhere else. But for those of you that don’t scour over 100+ video game blog feeds, allow me to enlighten you. I’ll be linking to a lot of cool Wii news, now that the launch is hopefully only months away. The excitement is building up fast. On to the links:

USA Today had an interview with Reginald Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s new president and chief operating officer, where they discussed all-things-Wii. Most important was the topic of the online system that the Wii will sport. From the article:

Q: You’re not pursuing a subscription model?

A: We view online gaming as essentially an enhanced way to enjoy the gaming experience and drive more sales of hardware and software.

Q: How do you extend your online strategy to Wii?

A: It’s the same premise. We will offer online-enabled games that the consumers will not have to pay a subscription fee for. They’ll be able to enjoy that right out of the box. The Wii console is going to be Wi-Fi enabled, so essentially, you’ll be able to plug it in and go. It won’t have hidden fees or costs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it — I hope and pray that Nintendo’s online service is similar to Microsoft’s. The Gamer card, the Gamer score, the Xbox Live Arcade, all of those features would be so cool to see on Wii’s online service. This is something I would pay for! Give it to me for free, if you want, but please make it worth my while. Let me play RC Pro-Am multiplayer. Let me co-op Contra with my friends. I’d love to know how my high-score on 1942 compares with the rest of the world. There is so much untapped nostalgia and potential here that it boggles my mind. I could go on forever with possibilities.

Nintendo is also starting to announce titles that will be available for the Wii. Wikipedia actually has a list of all games that have been mentioned for the Wii. Most recently, Mario Strikers Charged and Battalion Wars 2 have been announced. There is definitely going to be a tug of war between new titles and retro downloads.

Twilight Princess, the new Zelda title will sport a totally new control scheme. Swing the Wii-mote to swing Link’s sword is going to be riot. Or tire out your wimpy-birds arms. Sissy.

There’s still a lot of speculation going on with regard to the launch price for the Wii. It hovers between 170 and 250 dollars. Does it really matter? If it stays around the 250$ mark, Nintendo is going to sell every single console they manufacture. Period.

There’s more info coming out daily about the Wii, little details, hints, and snippets. It’s all very exciting. I just hope I can keep up!

Son of a …

I knew it! Even though I professed my desire for a Black DS Lite, I couldn’t wait and went with the beautiful and pure White DSL. Four Color Rebellion is now saying the the Black and Pink (woohoo!) DS Lites are heading our way.

Son of a…

Anyone want to buy a white DS Lite?