Rockstar Games has been doing a pretty good job when it comes to bringing its classics to the App Store. A few months back, it brought the multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto III to both newer iPhone and iPad devices, and while the controls weren’t the greatest, every ounce of Liberty City madness that the console versions were known for made it intact through those devices. The same could practically be said about Max Payne, a game that originally thrived on Xbox and PC, and can now be bought for Apple’s devices for a meager $3. It’s a decent purchase, but you should probably know what you’re getting into before you invest.

In case you aren’t familiar with the story of Max Payne, it’s a bit of a heartbreaker. He’s a tough-as-nails cop who’s pushed to the edge following a personal loss — one that you’ll follow with him in the early parts of the game. From there, he goes all out when it comes to taking down opponents, kicking back painkillers like they’re candy and packing his guns with enough ammunition to bring down a small army. And considering the drug lunatics he’s hunting, he needs it.

Like the original, Max Payne for iOS thrives on its features. You’ll be investing heavily in the game’s bullet time, where everything slows down to the point that you can accurately take out enemies, whether you’re charging into a room or performing a heroic slow-mo dive like the ones you see in most buddy cop films, where they don’t have a care in the world where they land as long as they hit what they’re shooting at on the way down. It’s a tactic that still works well today, though there are some hurdles to get over.

Those hurdles come in the form of the touchscreen gameplay. Rockstar did provide the option of configuring button layout however you please, and it’s a smart move, but that doesn’t mean the control functions accurately by any means. The clumsy mechanics really do factor into the game here, as sometimes you’ll slow-mo dive right into a table, or worse, miss your target entirely. As a result, frustration sets in, way more often than we’d like to see.

Also, trust us when we say you should keep the auto-aim feature on. Turning it off is sort of a death wish, as you’ll rarely hit the targets in your sights. At least with auto-aim on, you stand a better chance, even if it’s by sheer, dumb luck.

Rockstar did add some interesting extra features, including Social Club support, which lets you keep track of your progress. It’s hardly worth writing home about, but for a port, it’s nice to see added into the game.

Other than the problematic controls, the port fares fine. The graphics, despite being somewhat of a decade old, are great with the new retina-scan supported visuals, and the character models, though hardly perfect, aren’t bad at all. The level design is exquisite too, between alternating indoor and outdoor settings that really involve you in Max’s plight. The audio backs up most of the action, particularly with the gritty dialogue (though there are bits of humor) and effective sound effects.

For three bucks, Max Payne isn’t too much of a gamble for those who grew up with previous versions of the game. However, the controls aren’t as great as they could’ve been, despite the option to move them around however you please. Try it first if you can. Otherwise, take a couple of Flinstones chewable vitamins and enjoy.

By Robert Workman