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Action Replay MAX EVO Edition PlayStation 2 Datel Website

Designed & Developed by Datel
Price: £29.99

You've all seen Datel's Action Replay cheat system in your local game stores. Over the years, and for a variety of consoles it's become the best cheat system that you can buy. In fact most users will almost undoubtedly purchase the updated products as soon as they become available. This year however the Action Replay Max for the PlayStation 2 is so much more than a cheat system, so much more in fact that everyone, even those who don't usually purchase cheat systems will feel that it's a must have product. Below you'll find a list of all the features.

  • New! Preloaded with 30,000+ cheats for the latest games.
  • New! Now easy to update your codes in numerous ways.
  • New! USB flash/pen drive support enabling easy transfer of codes from a PC.
  • New! PC software (MAX Media Creator) allows you to burn compatible CD-R's.
  • New! MP3 playback allowing 10 hours of music on one CD-R.
  • New! Watch MPEG movies on your PlayStation 2 (up to 3 hours on one CD-R)
  • New! Play Genesis and Mega Drive game ROMs using the included emulator
  • New! PlayStation 2 online chat and instant messaging service.
  • Cheat code system can be updated via the PS2 network adapter.
  • MAX Memory Manager allows you to compress your saves
  • Saves can now be transferred to USB pen drive
  • Turns your PlayStation 2 into a multi-region DVD player

That's quite an impressive range of features by anyone's standards and whilst the MP3 playback ability isn't relevant to deaf gamers there's plenty of features here that are more than relevant. Let's take a look at what you get in the package and how each feature works.

Package contents
The Action Replay MAX EVO Edition contains:

  • Action Replay MAX PlayStation 2 disk
  • Media Creator Software PC disk
  • USB pen drive (16MB)*
  • Instruction Manual

* You can also purchase the Action Replay Max and it's same as the EVO Edition except that it doesn't come with a USB pen drive.

Action Replay cheat code system
The heart of the package and probably what most people are interested in. The Action Replay system comes with a staggering 30,000+ cheats for many, many games. Of course no matter how many codes are included in the package, eventually you'll find a new game for which there are no codes. Updating the database used to require a boring task of manually inputting codes via a USB keyboard (or onscreen virtual keyboard) but now this isn't your only option. Should your PS2 have a network adapter and be configured to use the online service you can directly download the updates right on to your memory card and USB pen drive. Alternatively you can download them onto your PC and then either place them on to the USB pen drive or a CD-R and then transfer them to the PlayStation 2, which is very convenient. The manual claims that the Action Replay system can recognise your game disk when inserted and it will throw up a list of available codes. The exceptions to this are games that are not in the database. However we tried Hyper Street Fighter 2 and this procedure didn't work but codes were in the database for the game. This was just a minor issue though and overall it's easy to see why the Action Replay cheat code system is the number 1 choice for gamers.

MAX Memory Manager
If there's one aspect of owning a PlayStation 2 I don't like, it's having to use the small and expensive memory cards. I have 3 memory cards which are all almost full and every time I have a new PlayStation 2 game to play I find myself deleting saves, that I didn't want to delete, to make space. The Action Replay MAX EVO Edition comes with a 16MB USB pen drive that helps to greatly reduce this problem. The MAX Memory Manager allows you to do a variety of things which can save you a great deal of money buying memory cards. You can compress saves on a memory card to make space (compression can enable you to store up to ten times as much but as you probably know the saves will have to be uncompressed in order to be used). Saves can also be transferred to the USB pen drive (which in turn can be transferred to a PC and backed up on CD-R to keep your valuable saves secure) in a compressed or uncompressed state.

There are other advantages to using this superb MAX Memory Manager system. Many saves are available for download such as those from Datel's professional gamers. You'll also find many other saves from places such as GameFAQs. Are you a fan of the Pro Evolution Soccer series? Well if you are you can download modified saves where the fictitious teams have been replaced with real ones. In fact the possibilities are endless because the support for a USB pen drive means you can transfer anything from an Internet connected PC to the PlayStation 2 memory card.

MP3 and MPEG movie playback
Yet another PlayStation 2 enhancing feature from Datel. Essentially you can now play MP3s and MPEG/DivX/AVI/Video CD and Super Video CD formats with the MAX Media Player. Whilst this is a feature that probably won't appeal to deaf gamers we though we would still mention it for the sake of completeness. First of all you'll need to install the MAX Media Creator software on your PC. This software will allow you to burn PlayStation compatible CD-R's (CD-RW's cannot be used though) that contain MP3s or movies (of one of the aforementioned formats). The program will convert your movie files, which usually makes them a lot smaller (MP3s don't usually need to be converted) and it's possible to have up to 3 hours in movies and 10 hours in MP3s on one CD-R. It's worth mentioning that the software is not compatible with all CD writer drives though. Our Sony CD-RW/DVD combination drive would just not work where as our Lite-On CD-RW drive worked flawlessly. You can find a compatibility list here and to be fair to Datel most drives are compatible. Datel have also released an update for the MAX Media Creator software that allows you to use the USB pen drive instead of a CD-R and the support section on their website shows you a way to get around any incompatibilities should you have a copy of Nero Burning ROM. The MAX Media Creator software allows you to change bit rates and screen sizes so you have a say in the quality of the finished product.

Multiregion DVD playback
Now here is a feature that is really worth having. If you're the kind of person who goes abroad a lot and purchases foreign DVD's or you just like to import them because they come out so much earlier than here in the UK then this is a great feature to have. You simply load up the Action Replay Max disk on your PlayStation 2 and when it's loaded replace it with your DVD. The DVD is automatically detected and you're taken to the region select screen and after you've selected the correct region the DVD will begin playing. I tried a US (NTSC) version of Kiki's Delivery Service and it worked perfectly. What more could you ask?

Play Genesis and Mega Drive games ROMs
Emulators are very popular but most are usually for the PC. Of course the legality of downloading ROMs of official titles (that you don't own) from the Internet is questionable. There are however ROMs that have been made by certain individuals (usually known as homebrew games) that can be freely downloaded. A PGEN emulator has been included and works with .SMD and .BIN files. We tested out a couple of ROMs and they worked really well. There wasn't any dips in frame rate at all which was impressive. In order to use the ROMs you'll need to use the MAX Media Creator software to burn a CD-R with the ROMs you want to use. You'll also have to choose to attach the emulator to your disk as well. If you have the MAX Media Creator update you can place the ROMs and emulator on a USB pen drive if you want to. Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that you can enable different renderers and Multimode TV support if you want to.

MAX Instant Messenger
Fancy using your Internet enabled PlayStation 2 to text communicate with your friends? Well now you can thanks to the MAX Instant Messenger. All you need to do (apart from having a network adapter correctly configured and connected to the Internet) is to register to use the MAX Instant Messenger service. You can use a USB keyboard or use an onscreen virtual keyboard. You can setup your own channels (which you modify) and can make your own buddy lists. It's just what you need to keep in touch with fellow PlayStation 2 gamers.

Final thoughts
There's absolutely no doubt about it, the Action Replay Max EVO Edition is an outstanding product that not only gives you a first class cheat code system but also provides you with many, many more superb features that legally expand the capabilities of your PlayStation 2 console. The most impressive thing of all though is the price. At only £29.99 it's outstanding value for money. In fact it can be found for only £17.99 from an online store which is just incredible. Should you not want the USB pen drive (you might have your own with a larger capacity for instance) you can buy the Action Replay Max which is identical except for the exclusion of the USB pen drive and that retails at only £19.99.

Although there's a lot to this package all the different operations were straight forward and the included manual answers any questions that you might have. We had no problem at all with any of the features. We used Verbatim CD-R's. during our experimentation and our PlayStation 2 had no problems at all. From our experience it's not wise to put the Genesis/Mega Drive emulator ROMs and other files such as MP3s and movies because MAX Media Player detects the emulator and lets it autorun meaning you can't access the MP3s and movie files.

In short then this is an outstanding product that should appeal to everyone, not just those after the latest and greatest cheat code system. Personally it appeals to me because it means no more wasting money on memory cards and it allows me to keep a permanent back-up of my important saves but whatever feature you like the look of you can't go wrong with the Action Replay MAX EVO Edition.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10
The Action Replay MAX EVO Edition is an outstanding product with more than enough features to satisfy anyone.