Mature [Violence, Langue, Sexual Themes]
You remember the commercial for Smokin’ Aces? Well, Made Man is sort of the same way, it starts and finishes like this: Expletive...blam, blam, blam...expletive, expletive...blam, blam, blam...(no surprising plot twists)...expletive...blam, blam, blam. Literally, this is the abandoned love-child of Virtua Cop, Max Payne and Smokin’ Aces.
The confessions of a made man named Max Payne...oops...I mean Made Man, starring Joey Verola, is nothing short of a confession that plays out a lot like Max Payne who took a trip to Sega’s Virtua city. The similarities and action sequences of Remedy’s Max Payne have somehow found their way into Silverback Studios’ Made Man. The only problem is that unlike Max Payne, Joey can’t dive and doesn’t have a convenient way to use bullet-time.
Yes, there is bullet-time (it’s in just about every shooting game these days) and there’s a feature called Retort Kill, which basically means Joey says something profane and then executes the poor sap on the ground. Yeah, it’s games like this that get picked up on Jack Thompson’s radar and not without good reason.
However, I will say that this has some truly good things about it. While it would be easy to run this game into the ground – further into the ground than an opponent of the Undertaker in a buried alive match – I’m actually convinced to tell you how much fun this game can be. It’s not fun like Max Payne or True Crime, but it is fun like State of Emergency or Virtua Cop. For those of you who know where I’m going with this review, based on the fore-mentioned references, then you can pretty much guess what Made Man is like.
The story follows several decades of a Vietnam soldier turned Mafia (hitman?) as protagonist Joey Verola retells (confesses?) his journey through the mob life, which started in the jungles of Vietnam. Joey recounts specific events while talking with a protégé on what seems like an unending drive. I admit, the in-car sequences look cool; nicely shaded well written and excellently directed. I particularly loved the way the other vehicles and buildings looked during those cinematics. The biggest problem, though, graphically, is that those very doable cinematic graphics weren’t the same as the ones in the actual game. And it’s not that the PS2 couldn’t handle the same kind of graphics, because God of War II is living proof that the PS2 can handle graphics of that caliber. Heck, the models in the game don’t even have facial expressions or moving mouths. I can’t tell you how hard it was distinguishing who was talking when it looked like everyone’s lips were sewn together.
But visuals aside, Made Man is all about what seemed like incessant gun battles. I really didn’t understand, though, why this game was promoted as serious action drama (i.e., The Suffering
, The Getaway
) but instead we’re given a serious story amongst B-movie action sequences and cheesy in-game one-liners. Again, the lead voice-over work is good and David Fisher obviously had some well thought-out plan for the game’s story, but it’s like...what the heck happened? How did this Mafia confessional turn into a bad action movie? Now I have nothing against a lead character taking on 1000+ “bad guys” in endless shootouts. But with just about every stage (excluding the Vietnam stages) rigged with breakable objects like a John Woo set, and a hundred or so henchmen running out of nowhere just to be mowed down by a dual-wielding (or Samurai sword using) Joey Verola, I was actually questioning if there was any other way to disable the bad guys rather than just killing them all
. I guess that just lets you know how much shooting goes on in Made Man.
Players are literally mass murdering gang members, FBI agents, security guards, hill-billies and hired guns. There’s just too much shooting for this game to be about the Mafia. Where was the secret meetings? The discussions of money laundering and store fronts? Where was the tension between the loyalists? Why didn’t gamers get more story-heavy content? That’s what me and a cohort asked while taking turns endlessly running and gunning through Made Man. Heck, even some stupid box puzzle would have been a nice mix-up to the murder, murder, murder concept that this game plays on.
But since I’m being nice, I’ll admit that all the shooting that takes place is at least accompanied by some fairly decent mechanics. It’s much easier to point, shoot and aim, and it’s more convenient than any True Crime
or Grand Theft Auto
game. Although, when wall-hugging there’s the unfortunate problem of getting shot when trying to peep around corners. Other than that, I have to admit that it’s a guilty, infectious pleasure when running around and shooting up some excellently designed stages. As I mentioned, the stages are built like they were made for a John Woo set. Tons of glass shattering, lots of bodies falling everywhere and uber-amounts of shells. My favorite stage in the game is the arena – where Joey and his two friends rob the arena while a Bacman Turner Overdrive concert is being held. What’s better is that you actually play Joey, running through the arena and shooting down security guards like an anti-Virtua Cop
. You even play him while he’s scattering through the overhead rafters where the crowd and band can be seen down below. Of course, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” amongst other songs can be heard as if performed live. That’s great stuff.
But small pockets of vastly entertaining gameplay segments didn’t help the fact that many of the sounds were blippy or cutoff unintentionally, or the game freezing every once a couple of hours. Added to the previously mentioned annoyances, was the lack of an auto-save. I can’t tell you how awful it was to beat several stages without realizing that the game had to be saved in order to pick up where I left off. That’s not to mention that the AI acts like stiff robots – shooting non-stop until they have to reload, but doing very little in the department of flanking, taking proper cover or maneuvering through the stage to actually make the encounters fun. Instead, near the end of the game the AI has perfect aim and ruin a lot of the good moments of a shootout. Frustration should not be the result of a fast-paced shootout and yet that’s what ended up happening in Made Man.
Overall, though, the non-linear storytelling; lacking, but good soundtrack; well scripted cinematics; surprisingly good ending and dynamic (but glitchy) shootouts made for what could have been a good action-drama, but instead is an over-the-top, super-cheesy, action-shooter. I’m not going to say it’s a bad game, but I will say it has some awful drawbacks that will only make Aspyr’s Made Man desirable by a dedicated few. Otherwise, rent this game at your own risk.