Cut! Action! Cut! Action! Cut! Action!

Since it was on sale on Steam recently, I picked up Max Payne (and its sequel) on a bit of a whim. I remember trying to play it long ago on a PlayStation of some kind and being insanely frustrated by how poor I was at it with the dual analog sticks setup. I remember saying to myself, “I would be so much better at this with a keyboard and mouse”. And so I bought it to try just that.

Turns out: not so much. I’m playing on Easy, as I do most of the time these days (not having the patience for other levels), and I’m still dying enough to notice that it’s important to do your “quick saves” with some frequency to avoid replaying lengthy sections of the game. The game can fairly swiftly settle into a rhythm of saving interspersed with slow motion gunfights. Not the worst thing, I guess.

The best thing, so far, though has been the effect the quick saving has had on the aesthetics of play.  At least twice so far it’s led to these highly surreal, rapid-fire repetitions of very small amounts of action. In one scene I save, walk through a door, get blown away by a guy with a shotgun, reload, instantly reappear before the door, walk through the door, spin and shoot the shotgun guy, get blown away by another guy, reload, instantly reappear, walk through the door, shoot both guys. Save.

It’s the instantaneous nature of saving and particularly reloading that leads to this – they have a weightless, inconsequential feeling. A click and either the save is made or the screen instantly changes back to the way things were. In those sequences in which I reload multiple times in quick succession it becomes this amazing intercutting of multiple possible universes with no pausing for breath.

It really looks quite fantastic, almost beautiful.

18 October 2011
← next words previous words →