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ESRB Rating
Written by  :  Trixter (9110)
Written on  :  Feb 19, 2003
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars
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Extremely satisfying to fans of the show, but not enough oomph for non-fans.

The Good

Max Steel, for those who are unfamiliar with the premise, is a computer-animated kids show featuring Max Steel as a nanobot-enhanced human working for a secret agency that protects the world from certain destruction. Max's nanobots give him two special abilities for short periods of time: The ability to "go turbo" (enhanced speed and strength), and stealth mode (undetectable by cameras and humans).

If you're a fan of the show and part of the show's demographic (6 to 11-yr-olds), the game is extremely faithful to the show -- you have Max's abilities, the voice acting for Max and 'Berto is done by the same actors, and you're fighting the same terrorist organization. Treyarch, known for Tony Hawk fame, created a game that matches the show well.

Along with Max's abilities, you can pick up an assortment of weapons to help you move stealthily (or mightily) through the missions, such as grenades, tripmines, remotely-detonated mines, guns, and more. Guns can zoom in, sniper style (for this the game switches to a 1st-person perspective so you can line up the shot).

The graphics are above-average for a Dreamcast game. Each area seems to have a completely different set of textures. The controls are intuitive, even if Max seems a tad bit sluggish in responding to direction changes (although this may be due to the 3rd-person perspective).

The Bad

For a game that is rated T for Teen, I was astonished as to how simplistic everything was. The actual demographic for the show and the game is around 10 years old, but because there are guns in the game and a final level involving zombie-like creatures, I guess that bumped the game up to Teen status. It was clearly designed so that a 10-yr-old could get through it with a minimum of puzzle-solving and frustration.

A good (albeit odd) way to describe the gameplay is "no penalties". There are no penalties (or rewards) for trying to think outside the box in this game, or mis-stepping. For example, "going turbo", while using precious nanobot energy, allows you to punch through certain walls to gain goodies -- but there is almost always a nanobot energy pack included with the goodies. So there is no decision-making: Do you use up energy to possibly gain decent goodies, or save your nanobot energy for another level? ALWAYS go for the goodies, since there's always nanobot energy with them. A game design opportunity wasted...

Here's another "no-penalty" situation: You have guns with limited ammo, a grenade, and a remote-detonation pack. Which should you use to take out the three guards ahead of you? It doesn't matter, since your fists are always enough to get rid of guards with barely any damage done to you.

Level design is somewhat blocky and linear.

The Bottom Line

My sons, Sam (6) and Max (3) are fans of the show and play-act it around the house (Max is prone to yelling "Going Turbo!!!" at the top of his lungs and then rushing headfirst at someone). For them, having me go through the game was like watching a 10-hour Max Steel episode, and they loved it. But would I play the game on my own without them around? Not likely.