El Matador

Max Payne meets Far Cry - a decent recipe but the taste is poor

THERE'S A KNACK to jumping on bandwagons. The first thing to remember is, of course, to jump on a good one. El Matador does this perfectly well, with bullet-time as its wagon of choice. You also have to jump while the bandwagon is hot, or at the very least, still there.

El Matador does this not so well, missing the wagon by a good few years and tumbling downwards into a sea of mediocrity while Max Payne plays a slide whistle condescendingly and trundles off into the sunset.

It's bad enough that El Matador is far too late with its sideways-jumping action, but it fails to deliver any of the coolness or satisfaction of Remedy's classic. Everything about it feels floaty and disconnected, slowing down time makes you feel really sluggish and inaccurate, and you can forget about hitting anything while diving as your crosshair is jerked about rudely like a pogo-stick at a sexy bikini photoshoot.


The weapons are nondescript, ranging from 'unusable single pistol' to 'ineffective shotgun' to 'machine gun you'll always want to use but are never given ammo for'. The AI of your team-mates consists of a command to run into you and push you into the line of fire, and the AI of enemies consists of shooting you all too easily while occasionally ducking behind things.

It looks fine on the surface - there's no faulting the game's aesthetics. Lists of graphical features as long as your arm make El Matador a picturesque game at times, especially on some of the later levels (the game arbitrarily leaps between jungles, docklands and urban centres). It doesn't even begin to approach the expansive environments of Far Cry or Just Cause however, something which is painfully prevalent throughout because of the game's linear design. Having mapped my screenshot key to 'E', looking through all of the screenshots I'd taken presented me with image after image of various locked doors - like some horrible and inescapable Homebase catalogue.

It really does come close to being a decent game, but unfortunately its foibles set it on the wrong side of the tipping point of unbearability. Which isn't even a word, but who cares?

The verdict

El Craoadir, more like

  • It looks great!
  • It sounds horrible!
  • Voice-acting's horrible!
  • Script's horrible!
  • AI's horrible