|System: PC, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Silverback Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aspyr||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 24, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
May 8, 2007 - In 2001, Rockstar released a crime noir game called Max Payne. While nothing extraordinary went into the making of the game, the mechanics of the slow motion gunplay were well received, maybe a little too well received. The reason that I bring this up is that once the Matrix styled action was introduced into gaming, it seemed that everyone jumped on the bandwagon. It became such a problem that many gamers refused to play games that were just another knock-off. After a period of time, these games dwindled away into video game limbo. Regrettably, someone forgot to let Aspyr and Silverback know what had happened.
Made Man has the markings of a decent game right out of the box. The story has you taking control of the lead man named Joey Verola. Through a series of playable flashbacks, we are given the history of this one man's journey into becoming a Made Man. You will experience every move of his life through three decades. You will even journey back to where, according to Joey, it all began - Vietnam. From there, you will make your way to the urban jungles of Brooklyn. David Fisher, a successful crime novelist, wrote the storyline for the game in collaboration with Bill Bonanno, a former made man himself. However, one has to hope that neither man intended for the game to be executed this way.
The gameplay falls flat in several areas. This is not to say that they are not enjoyable parts of the game; this is to say that more attention to detail could and should have been made. As I initially stated, when I was talking about Max Payne, Made Man comes equipped with the capability to slow down time in order to increase the accuracy of your kills. This mechanic is simply referred to as Kill Rush, which you build up by the more people you kill, and there will be plenty. The dual weapon wielding mechanics of the game play out nicely, but too often when you encounter a new weapon, you will have to drop one of the weapons you currently have. This quickly becomes more of a nuisance than a strategic element in the game. For example, you might occasionally need the sniper rifle, but in order to get the sniper rifle you will have to drop a weapon you currently have, and since most of your enemies don't carry ammunition for the sniper rifle, you will have to exchange the weapon for one of your enemies' less powerful weapons.
The cover feature in the game is handled well enough. When you are under enemy fire, you can hide fairly well. However, sometimes the controls for this become sticky and Joey might not take cover where you would like him to. This can easily be overlooked due to the incredibly slow to react A.I. you will encounter. Several times, your enemies will stand and look at you after you have shot them. Even worse is the aim of your would be killers. Literally, I was able to stand face to face with about six goons and not one of them fired a single shot that hit me. The lack of A.I. involvement really hinders the gameplay. The only plus side to actually taking out your enemies, aside from advancing through the levels, are the retort kills you perform. If through some mishap you just wound an enemy, they will simply fall to the ground and appear as if they are shaking. When you pass them, if the context sensitive action flashes on the screen, you can then perform a brutal kill. While in the beginning this feature was enjoyable and increased my desire only to wound my enemies, this feature quickly became stagnate. The main reason for this was that every retort kill was exactly the same with only a few instances that varied.
Stale gameplay can sometimes be helped if the graphics are at least somewhat decent to look at. Made Man tries hard, but once more fails to deliver in the natural progression of PS2 games as of late. In fact, Made Man looks closer graphically to being a launch title for the PS2 rather than a game featured near the end. The environments are too bright and pristine for this type of game. To make matters worse, it appears that the game was poorly run through a filtering system in order to give it that crime noir look. The character models are not that much better, but considering the overall graphic appeal, this should be viewed as a good thing, especially if Silverback and Aspyr attempted to have the characters and environments look comparably constrained. Another element that drives home how the graphics look are the Picture in Picture moments of the game. Whenever one pops up unexpectedly on screen, they are sharp in contrast to the rest of the game. The first time you experience the picture in picture is very early on in the game. When you approach a specific weapon, a brightly colored picture of a sniper rifle pops up. The image is so different from anything else that it is difficult to decide where the rifle is. They appear as if they were a last minute add to game.
The sounds of the game could have been the one saving grace, unfortunately, they are not. While Joey sounds convincing enough, the rest of the cast of voice-overs deliver bland, over-the-top acting we have grown accustomed to in certain types of games. The problem is that this is not in one of those genres. You will also quickly notice that the voices of the enemies are so stereotypical that it can quickly become offensive on many levels. The soundtrack for the game is solid enough, and it's almost disheartening that a fairly good soundtrack is present on a fairly average game.
If you missed out on the slow motion craze a couple of years ago, then this might be the game for you to pick. On second thought, just try to find Max Payne. The poor execution to the game is where the real harm is in Made Man. While it would have still been considered a late clone of already successful games, it might have had at least a chance at being a noteworthy clone. However, at $20, it might be worth it to some. A word of warning though, Made Man is a renter first, no matter the cost.
CCC Freelance Writer