I begin in an elevator, there’s a shotgun to my right. The doors open, a goon stands with his back to me in front of a glass window. Ignoring the shotgun, I bumrush the fool, the absolute moron, kicking him through the window and to his death. Looking around, there aren’t any more enemies within easy kicking range. Reluctantly, I gather the shotgun. The rest of the level is mostly shooting people normally. Sike.
If you thought F.E.A.R. was too scary or Hard Boiled had too many allusions to the laws of physics, Maximum Action is here for you. Now being published by New Blood Interactive — the Devolver Digital of retro FPS — it’s spent a fair number of years as a pretty rough-and-tumble alpha project. But help is here to polish and publish this baby into whatever kind of psychotic murder simulator it was always destined to become.
As it stands, Maximum Action (or Max Ax as I called it, just now) is already a pretty good time. There are seven levels, all staged like the sets of classic action films. You’re the star, and your only objective is to reach the end in the most a-c-t-i-o-n way possible. There’s a points system that I don’t really understand or care about — what’s important is that no matter how many times I kicked that first goon through the window, it was always fun.
Take Max Payne, make it first person, and you’ve got a pretty good facsimile of Max Ax’s gameplay. Diving through the air pumping obscene amounts of lead into some poor dude’s face in slow motion is ammo inefficient, sure, but that’s no problem. Just throw your gun at the guy next to him for a quick stagger and grab ol’ hamburger face’s firearm to take him out with. Enemy placements are slightly random, meaning every time I played the (relatively short) scenarios, I was thinking on my feet, and those small decisions make the already fun gameplay even more meaningful.
Any two guns can be dual-wielded for maximum preteen Nerf-fueled fantasy enjoyment. After clearing a room I usually chuck both guns out a window or something and indiscriminately grab the first two I see — the way the game was meant to be played. If you ever reload, intentionally or accidentally, you owe John Woo twenty push-ups.
Maximum Action certainly has all the looks and feel of a late-nineties shooter, but it also has something that’s hard to put into words. There’s just something about the barely-there UI, bugs, and quirks juxtaposed with the absolutely brilliant flashes of gameplay genius. Is it soul? Grit? Whatever it is, a little more sheen and I think this could easily become one of my favorite new shooters.
You can pre-purchase Maximum Action in Early Access on Steam. A pre-release copy was provided to us by the game’s developers.