Rarely has an action game squandered such a solid concept as Aspyr and Silverback Studios' Made Man has. Gangland shooters should be a pretty easy thing to put together at this point, yet Made Man is proof positive that with the right amount of indifference and general disdain for the game-buying public, you can still make complete dreck out of a seemingly foolproof concept. The weirdest thing is that by all accounts, Made Man shouldn't have ever come out. This is one of the last few games now-defunct publisher Acclaim had in the pipes when it went under a few years back. Now Aspyr has resurrected its unfinished corpse, yet apparently it didn't bother to have anyone fix it up beyond what was necessary to make the game install and load up. From its buggy, intensely frustrating gameplay to its near-absent production values, Made Man is a flat-out mess across every category.
Shooting brain-dead mafia thugs while listening to an inordinate amount of heavily accented cursing--yep, that's Made Man in a nutshell.
Made Man tells the story of Joey Verola, a longtime Mafia crony who's on the verge of being "made." Most of the story is a series of flashbacks that Joey recants to a friend while they drive through New York. What, exactly, the whole plot is actually about is never terribly clear. The game jumps around a lot, and the cutscenes aren't scripted well enough to properly extrapolate on what's going down. One minute you're hijacking a truck in North Carolina; the next you're in the middle of the Vietnam War. The in-between bits of narration try to set all this up into an overarching tale of gold buried in a coffin and rival families in cahoots with federal agents to take you down, but it's all very disjointed and, after a while, insufferable. The lone positive is that Joey is voiced by a solid actor who seems to be channeling Goodfellas-era Ray Liotta at times, and he sells the character as best he can. But every other actor hams it up so badly, and the plot itself is so scattered and unintelligible, that the whole thing is downgraded to somewhere between Godfather III and Corky Romano in the lexicon of mob fiction.
Even if the plot were better, odds are you wouldn't be able to put up with Made Man's awful gameplay long enough to really invest yourself in it. It all begins with the shooting controls, which were sluggish-to-the-point-of-broken in the earlier-released PlayStation 2 version of the game. In the PC version, controlling the aiming reticle with the mouse doesn't drag as much as it did when using the PS2 controller's analog stick (conversely, there's no controller support at all in this version), so it is a good bit easier to hit targets while moving. Still, it's entirely too easy to get shot to pieces while fiddling with the zoom toggle to get a proper aim on anything.
To counteract this, you'll want to use cover as often as you can--though the fact that the cover mechanics border on broken kind of negates the usefulness of this feature. All you need to do is walk up to a spot that looks as if you could duck behind it, like a wall or a box, and press the designated button. Problem is, sometimes that just doesn't register, and you stand there like an idiot while bullets riddle your dopey-looking self. When it does register, there are some cover areas that you can still get shot behind, even though it looks like your whole body is covered. Even more obnoxious, you have to peer out from cover to get any kind of target on your enemies, and the second you do so, they pounce and start firing away at your peeking-out head. And for the game's final trick, sometimes you can't get the targeting reticle out far enough to even hit anything. It's as if it just gets stuck in one spot, and won't move far enough out to shoot anything other than the box you're sitting behind.
The really hilarious thing about all this is that enemies aren't even that smart. They're all crackerjack shots, but they also tend to stand in plain sight. The ones who do use cover tend not to shoot that much, meaning you can just take as long as you like to pick them off when they peer out from time to time. And then there are the enemies who just stand idly behind walls, doing nothing as you blast at them from two feet away.