Now that my addiction to SpellForce 3 has mostly ended with the completion of its expansion, Soul Harvest (which, by the way, is also a spectacular game like the base), my time has been freed up to write more about things I have been doing, and while philosophy and ethics have taken a break from my blog at this point in time, video games – good ones – have taken the spotlight, and today I’ll briefly be writing about Maximum Action, a not-so-pretty looking first person shooter which makes up for its ugly nature with utterly spectacular gameplay.
Catharsis in Slow Motion
Maximum Action is developed by one man and published by New Blood, who are a recent publisher that popped up and began giving the spotlight to numerous shooters that replicate much of the momentum based chaos that old school shooters such as Unreal, Quake and Doom perfected way back in the 90’s. This is more than a welcome addition to the industry, as I was basically sustaining myself off Unreal when I was younger, but I digress.
On a visual level, Maximum Action is nothing to scream about – textures, lighting and model work is very budget and low detail along with everything else (although as far as I am aware, there are visual upgrades coming with destructibility being added in, hooray!). For the superficially minded this may kill their interest, but the way the game moves and plays out creates an amazing spectacle of pure joy.
Maximum Action excels at being incredibly lethal towards the player at hyper-fast speeds. At its normal speed, gunfights can be over in a matter of seconds and it’s either you or the random henchmen scattered about levels that goes down in those few seconds. However, Maximum Action brings back the “bullet time” slow motion system that Max Payne made popular and F.E.A.R perfected, and that’s where this game becomes an absolute joy to play.
In slo-mo, you can properly aim your shots and dodge bullets effectively, and if you hold down the fire button on semi-automatic weaponry, it further slows down time to an almost standstill, so you can essentially perfect your aim for a killing blow and knock the head (or any other limb) off enemies and pinball them through the room given a powerful enough weapon. Normally highly dangerous and lethal fights turn into death pits for your opponents as you gracefully blow them to pieces with an array of different weaponry, explosives, etc.
This mechanic is very simple to use but the way the game moves, the impact of the weapons, the ragdoll mechanics and the particle effects in tandem with slow motion turns it into a mesmerizing, hilarious and chaotic mess. Bullet casings will fly out and drop on the floor with a satisfying “DING” as you leap through a window, shattering the glass and dodge multiple bullets – and sometimes even rockets – as you unload akimbo shotguns into the torso of a nearby enemy, blowing multiple limbs off in a chaotic, bloody mist and watch the rest of his body fly off and cartwheel through a door in the background.
This is one of thousands of different outcomes and it is absolutely insane, in fact this writing simply does not do it justice. I haven’t had this much fun with a first person shooter in years – the sheer joy of replaying levels over and over again just to try to do something cooler or more stylish does not get old. I’ve even been recording myself playing it with music that I enjoy, just to make a stylish and crazy run of explosions, bullet shells, ragdolls and heavy metal. It’s also an excellent game for gifs and webms.
Gameplay and Essentials First
While I can’t write much else about how well made this game is, I can discuss how the game focuses on essentials for its foundations to make it as good as it is.
The game is currently in early access and only has a handful of levels available, alongside some endless mode content, a hilariously broken replay mode, map creator and mod support for new weapons. While this is not a lot, Maximum Action rewards creative play and has also borderline perfected its gameplay loop and essential details. Things such as the particle effects, the ragdoll physics, destruction of props, slow motion and tiny details like bullet casings dropping – those things are what make this game already so good. They are essential to what the game is trying to achieve, and that is Hong-Kong action film insanity alongside the chaos of F.E.A.R.
It’s absolutely nailed it in that respect, and while it is light on content and still has some way to go before it is “complete”, the gameplay is a whirlwind of joy. As I said earlier, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had in many years with an FPS game, and the fact that it can make me replay levels over and over (a very rare feat for games nowadays) is a testament to how enjoyable it is.
Maximum Action is absolutely worth your time if you enjoy old-school shooters or high-energy action films with crazy gun fights.