MAXIMUM Action (PC) | Early Access Preview

We’ve all fantasized about making our own action movie at some point (you’re probably an exceptionally boring person if you haven’t), but the vast majority of us either can’t be bothered to rob a few banks to fund such a massive endeavour, or have simply not been born in Hollywood with a silver spoon in our mouth and a line of coke on our desks. Instead, you might just want to stick to playing MAXIMUM Action. This first-person shooter was created by George Mandell, John and David Szymanski, and was published by New Blood Interactive back in late 2018. At the time of writing, it’s still in Early Access on Steam. Yet, it still delivers a pretty refined experience with plenty of satisfying content on offer.

In it, you’re the start of your very own action movie. After naming your studio and customizing your blocky-looking protagonist, you can delve straight into it. Blasting your way through each movie scene from start to finish in the flashiest way possible is the goal here. There’s a decent amount of levels on offer here, though they’ll take only a few minutes to accomplish. Most of them notably vary in terms of width, length and height; the Jungle is made up of flat terrain with few areas to explore, while the Saloon is a tight and compact arena with plenty of doors to smash and rooms to break into. The more sizable levels, like the oriential restaurant and car park, prove to be much more fun due to the sheer size of some of its rooms, not to mention bits of the scenery that you can kick around or bounce off of.

The Sandbox menu appears at the beginning of each level. If you just want to play around with the game’s content on offer, you can!

Gangsters, soldiers and cowboys will appear in large quantities, often barging through doors or smashing through walls with their cars. They’ll shoot and stalk you with reckless abandon, but you won’t have to worry about any mind-blowing tactics on their end, since they’re limited to merely discharging their weapons and moving. Thus, the game’s difficulty remains fair and accessible. Often, explosive canisters and cars will be skewed around these zones, perfect for blasting them to bits.

There’s a massive selection of weapons to pick from, including a variety of different pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and SMGs. On top of that, there’s also an RPG, crossbow, and a katana sword to have fun with. The differences between each weapon type is subtle but noticeable, and it’s a lot of fun to mix-and-match your arsenal on the go. You’ll be able to dual-wield pretty much any weapon you want, and while there’s usually enough ammo to boot, it’s so satisfying being able to toss a weapon away at a foe and then loot something completely different. 

Some platforms can only be climbed by diving into them at a certain height, for some bizarre reason.

The best thing to do in a game like this is to just keep moving. It controls pretty well, if you disregard some of the janky jump mechanics, and feels loose enough for anyone to pull off over-the-top and flashy tricks as you rack up the body count. You can multiply your score by pulling off all sorts of tricks: headshots, tossing weapons, one-hit kills, and killing foes while diving, sliding, during Bullet Time, etc. It’s a trial-and-error shooter that rewards creativity, though there aren’t any medals or trophies to earn from topping your scores. It’s a bit of a bummer, not having any major goal to work towards. Still, there are collectibles to be found in order to snag bonus maps and cheats.

After beating a level, you’ll be able to rewatch your playthrough, with the added ability to flip between a few different camera perspectives. Thing is, this feature is pretty janky at the moment, as seen by the wappy jumping animations, the camera’s tendency to clip through walls, and the unstable framerate that often skips out on certain actions. At times, some of the guns in the replay don’t even fire or show any flashes from their muzzles. It’s stated in-game that the feature is still in its alpha, and it shows. You can’t save them for future rewatches at the moment, but it’s not like you’re missing out on much…

One level features a pretty easy boss battle, while another includes helicopters as enemies. Hopefully we’ll see more variety in future missions.

Then there’s Endless Mode, a staple inclusion to almost-any indie FPS with a retro aesthetic these days. If you’re not fussed about ploughing through the same linear levels over and over, then this should provide an amusing distraction from the main game. With a limited number of health supplies and a stockpile of weapons scattered everywhere, you’ll have access to a number of unlockable maps that are compact in design with varying amounts of cover to flip around between. Naturally, you won’t be constricted from camping or taking shortcuts so as to dodge enemy fire. Enemies will appear from out of nowhere in droves, and you’ll quickly come across tougher foes with explosive weapons as time goes on. In short, it’s chaotic fun and well worth revisiting.  

MAXIMUM Action is another one of those retro-chique shooters with deliberately low-quality visuals and undetailed character models. While some of the animations do look a bit sloppy as a result, the environments still look great, and it runs buttery smooth as well. On top of that, its synthwave soundtrack is a fittingly immersive listen, with some added guitars and oriental-sounding instruments that crop up on the tunes that play in specific levels. 

A level editor is packaged alongside. Download more missions and weapon skins from the Workshop.

Even in Early Access, MAXIMUM Action is one crazy shooter that makes John Woo films look like a walk in the park with your nan in comparison. Gymnastic bravado and an abundance of weapons to play around with results in a lot of satisfying, rewarding gunfights to enjoy over and over again. Admittedly, it won’t take long before you unlock most of the content on offer, and you might not get a lot out of it if you’re not too chuffed about perfecting high scores or watching clunky replay reels. Still, with even more content on its way in the coming months, one can only be excited as heck until this one officially drops. 

Review code supplied by publisher.

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