Recently, I’ve been reliving my past gaming habits in the likes of “Unreal Tournament” and “Quake 2.” Both titles have reminded what I used to love so much about shooters; pure skill. If you can’t point and shoot with quick reaction time or pinpoint accuracy, then you’re dead.
They’ve also reminded of how punishing shooters used to be. Without any regenerating health, scouring for health packs became a major part of the titles. The pure adrenaline that courses through your veins when you see your health flashing at 20 is just gone from the modern gaming landscape.
I also just finished “Max Payne 3,” a game that clearly remembers what games used to be. While it may get a bit repetitive towards the end game and the multiplayer is a total bust, that sense of high octane, white knuckle action is alive in well throughout the campaign mode.
Rockstar didn’t make a game in the vein of the classics, though. Instead of copying what Remedy started, Rockstar decided to develop a unique style to showcase the narrative. Quick cuts, fade-ins and expert transitions are the order of the day and it works so damn well. I was so engrossed at one point that I played for 5 hours straight!
The way the audio syncs with the visuals and how the electric and pulsing soundtrack gets your heart pumping is something I miss dearly in my games. While I really enjoy stuff like “Uncharted 2” or “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” both games are just too damn simple for me to truly fall for. I want my action titles to make me feel like a complete hero, overcoming desperate odds and looking like a bad-ass doing so.
I suppose the slick visuals are what truly sell me on “Max Payne 3.” If the game didn’t operate so smoothly or look so sharp, I might not have gotten so sucked into the gameplay. But even then, the controls are fluid and the difficulty so finely tuned that I was in my own little masochistic heaven during the story.
“Quake 2” certainly upped the difficulty in its subsequent expansion packs. Clearing out rooms filled with weird licker dogs and multiple grenade launching thugs is just incredibly tense. I fully understand why I’m such an expert player at Call of Duty after reliving those horrors.
I just wish more modern action games could evoke that old familiar feeling. “Halo 2,” as I recall, was one of the first titles to do away with health bars in favor of a regeneration system. I never liked it and despised how easy some of the fire fights became. The following year, “Call of Duty 2” employed the same tactic and I was still a bit put-off.
I won’t say that modern games don’t get me excited, but I usually like when they stick with past systems or mechanics and try to take different spins on the themes. “Borderlands” is one such title. It’s not original by sheer virtue of being a shooter, but it takes those clichés and creates an experience that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
The titles that I love from this generation (namely Yakuza and DJ Hero) are all just new spins on old ideas. “What’s Old is New Again” is the colloquialism that comes to mind when I think of how I enjoy my games. “Max Payne 3” is certainly such a game (even if it’s just a much better Uncharted).
So maybe I’m just too old-school for all these new games. Regardless of what might be the cause for my general lack of enthusiasm in the modern gaming scene, I have absolutely no beef with Max Payne. If Rockstar keeps making games as good as that, then I’ll be building quite the shooter collection in the coming years.