Remedyís Max Payne series of third person action games remain some of the best of their kind ever released with a gritty and dark tone combined with fun and sometimes brutal firepower and gameplay and impressive graphics. This fall developer Plastic Reality Technologies and publishers Cenega and Red Mile bring us what may be terms a ďMax Payne cloneĒ but in a good way. El Matador, which was first announced over two years ago, isnít quite as grim and gritty as Remedyís games, but based on playing a beta version of the game (including content that was not in the recent demos) it may turn out to be very satisfying action title.
The game itself has your player character as a DEA agent named Victor Corbet who is going after the bad and nasty drug runners in a variety of Central and South American locations, from a confined village to a sea port to a jungle hideway. Itís the last level that was perhaps the best in terms of visuals with some great looking foliage and cover that look a lot like what Crytek created for Far Cry. Plastic Reality really did an excellent job on the graphics in this game, and itís clearly the best feature of El Matador with great looking character models, cloth and ragdoll physics and impressive art textures and visual effects. If you always wanted to see how a Max Payne game looked in the sunlight, this title is likely to be the result. The game also uses the graphics engine to produce some solid looking in-game cutscenes.
Our preview build had three pre-set resolutions. On our middle of the road 2.2 Ghz Pentium 4 PC system with our NVIDIA 6800 graphics card we had solid frame-rates on the medium setting. On the high setting we did experience some slow down in frame rates but nothing too severe, which would seem to bode well for owners of PC with far better hardware than our play rig.
El Matadorís gameplay is pretty simple; shoot the bad guys before they shoot you. In our beta build of the game we found that the many enemies could be pretty challenging even when set on easy mode (there are four settings which include the ultra tough Nightmare) mainly because they have a tendency to hit their targets (mainly you). There are some opportunities for you to have some AI teammates of your own to help you out in certain situations.