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BW Businessworld

A Striking Comeback

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Nine long years, that's how long it's been since the pain-riddled ex-cop we know as Max Payne last made an appearance on our screens. Yet little has changed for the long-suffering protagonist, still wallowing in the past, a past deeply scarred by the loss of his wife and child. But with Max Payne 3, Max is back, back in a flurry of gore and bullets. Question is, with the passage of so much time, can the ol' chap still hit the mark?

On the face of it, Max and the game at large look very different from the previous game in the series. Gone are Max's New York Police Department days, he now works as a bodyguard for a rich Sao Paulo family, and it isn't long before the bad guys kidnap his client's wife on his watch, thrusting Max into a rescue mission. Only that the rescue mission is just the beginning of a far more sinister story…

Without revealing any more spoilers, it's suffice to say that developers Rockstar have taken a much-loved franchise and nurtured it to modern day expectations. The ‘bullet time' game mechanic, which allowed you to slow down time at any point to pull of insane slow-mo gunplay makes a reappearance, and despite many other games that have copied the effect, no one does bullet time better than Max Payne 3. Having said that, Max has visibly aged in the game though, and that shows – he's not as nimble as he used to be and he winces when he knocks into large objects. You get a real sense of controlling a character that's very human in his responses, rather than just a talking head that wields weapons and feels no pain.

Just remember, this is a game that is seriously violent, almost unapologetically so. The gore and the grisly action are underscored by a brilliant soundtrack and well detailed environments. The multiplayer mode is a revelation too, feeling very much like it was like this by design and not an afterthought, and the Gang Wars mode in particular is a bag load of fun.

Rating: 9/10
Price: Rs. 2,499

(Intel)ligent Match
Intel Inside. A badge proudly worn by our desktops and laptops for nearly two decades has finally made its way on a smartphone, courtesy the Lava XOLO X900. With the significant investments HTC, Samsung and Sony have made in competing hardware platforms, this was quite the marriage of convenience for Intel and Lava, with the former getting a hardware partner and Lava a much needed fillip in the smartphone space. The question I ask is, does the XOLO X900 serve up an Android phone different enough for the Intel Inside badge to matter?
On the outside, the X900 feels premium and polished, and resembles the latest iPhone to some extent. A 4-inch display adorns the front of the device, along with the Android buttons – overall the treatment is very clean and minimalist. The display by itself is middling in nature – while it offers reasonable pixel density (295 pixels per inch) and offers above average color output and viewing angles, it pales in comparison to the Sony Experia and the One X. Granted, those phones are in a significantly higher price bracket, but if this is to be a flagship device for the Intel party, then comparisons are inevitable.
And Intel's Atom Z2460 1.6 GHz processor powering it all? Despite it sporting only a single core, it performs at par with dual-core offerings, and has no sluggishness whatsoever. There is one thing to keep in mind, though - easy availability of apps for the Intel platform through the Google Play store could be an issue to begin with, especially several games which have reported compatibility issues or aren't supported. It doesn't help that a dated version of Android is shipped with the device - just doesn't cut it for a flagship device. Couple this with a "made by Lava" tag, and you could have customers balking at the price tag, despite the phone offering pretty good performance and looks for the price.
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs. 22,000

QuickLook: HCL ME U1 tablet
Pros: Latest Android OS 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), memory expandability up to 32GB, good build, well priced, full USB port

Cons: No Google Play store access, sluggish performance

Price: Rs 7999/-

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