What do you get when you cross Max Payne with something like Just Cause? El Matador. It's a no-nonsense, light on plot and heavy on action, third person shooter that features a chiselled hero - El Matador and his big guns. Old El must stop a dangerous South American drug cartel from doing whatever it is that these guys do.
I'm not quite sure what to think of it though, it's an alright game but it's not the best 3rd person shooter I've played. I'm sorry Plastic Reality but that honour goes to both the Max Payne games and this seems like a bit of Max Payne homage to me.
Some of the menus and the characters feel quite similar to be truthful.
Max Payne homage aside, the game delivers action on a hectic level and it's not for the faint of heart. You're going to need a pretty quick trigger finger to help El deal with the bad guys here - since there's a lot of trouble right from the get-go that closes in from all sides.
When the lead starts flying you'd best be playing on novice (easy) settings to begin with. Unless you're a really good gamer then you can pump up the difficulty.
El also has the ability (ala Max) to be able to slow down time (or his perception) to be able to help in gun battles. It's on a recharge bar as well and it can mean the difference between victory and defeat in the more hectic battles.
You have some cop buddies that show up every now and then to help you, but they're usually more of a hindrance as they very often get in the way, or take a few shots that you meant for the enemies. I think they've been added to give more life to the proceedings and make the levels seem more than just a run-and-gun fest (which they seem to be regardless).
My problems with the game come from the fact that it has load times that can be around the 2 minute mark, and its frustrating level of difficulty. It's a shame that the developers couldn't have put a little more polish into the actual game itself in the areas of the GUI and the AI. (Definitely the AI)
Quick saving and quick loading aren't as quick as they should be. I waited at least a minute or so to get right back into a frustrating boss battle. That kind of killed the game's appeal for me to be blunt. Things like this should be faster, especially due to the games over the top insane difficulty in places.
The controls are identical to Max Payne and they're pretty crisp, you can do the same kinds of things in Max. Shoot-dodge and leap around whilst slowing down time to target and blast enemies, this again has been overdone in recent games I feel - it has gone from a cool effect to something a little stayed, but that's only my personal opinion.
Now onto the internals of the game, the voice work is not bad, the voice acting itself is passable and the speakers do a good job with the awful script they've been handed. The lines are cheesy to the extreme and bring you out of the game's (vague) story in a hail of giggles and sniggers (yeah the game is good for a laugh) which is a bit bad. There's also way too much swearing, and I don't mind profanity when used in the right place - but this game has more than say: Scarface the movie did.
The frame rate chugs when the action gets intense and it really hurts the game, my rig's pretty good and even that chunked down to a slow crawl. There were stutters and hitches all over the place. The graphics are nice though and they do bring the models and levels to life, there's a good deal of decent animation and the weapons are good. The lip synch animations are bad though, very bad and mostly off.
The un-modded version of Remedy's Max Payne engine has been tweaked it seems because the lighting, particle and other effects are great. There's a lot of detail to the game's textures and the game has a nice look to it.
I didn't like the music at all; the music put me off and made me think that I was in some cheap porn flick for most of the time. If you're going to make an action game, then use some kind of action music. The good thing about the music is that it's not there in the background, it really only kicks in when you're in a big gun battle.
It's a blessing in disguise.
There's no Multiplayer in the game and the Singleplayer will probably take you around 10 or 12 hours to complete, it might take you a lot longer with the amount of loads/reloads and the stupidly long wait times - but as far as actual gameplay goes the shallow action gets repetitious and I found even my attention was starting to slip.
In closing El Matador might have been a truly great game if it didn't have to live up to the intricate dark noir styling of Mr. Payne. A truly visceral game that might only be unseated by John Woo's: Stranglehold on console, that actually looks as though it's trying something similar but adding a wealth of new features to prevent it appearing like a total knock-off of Remedy's classic action shooter.
I can't really say anything else about El Matador apart from the fact that it's a passable action game; it has ropey dialogue and some truly cringe-worthy lines. The music drove me batty and the difficulty level will test even the veterans of Max Payne.
Not a game that I'll be keeping on my HD.