Max Payne
Game Info
PS2, Xbox
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
The Good

• Bullet Time and Shoot Dodge are both fun
• Story and voice acting are well done

The Bad

• Way too much loading
• Graphically substandard
• Gameplay is limited outside of the special features


Gritty. Violent. Intense. Max Payne's story is ripped out of your average cop/detective crime novel and then pumped full with gunplay, seedy underlife and a slopping amount of ambiance. Max is a cop who, after his family is killed by drugged out punks, goes undercover to bust the crime family that is linked to the drugs that led to his family's murder. When his contact to the police is murdered and he is framed, Max starts putting holes in criminals by way of a variety of weapons.

As an entertaining story-driven package, Max Payne delivers in spades. The story is well written and pulled off magnificently by the top-notch voice acting. The ambiance alone really drives the story, which is told in both engine-run cut scenes and through a comic-book like approach. Sound effects and music compliment the cutscenes, giving the game an almost movie-like feel. The voice of Max Payne himself is well done and his own commentary feels like its dragged straight out of your average gumshoe tale. You'll probably laugh at some of the comments that come out of his mouth. I know I did.

As a action-packed John Woo style thrill ride, Max Payne has all of the tricks and perks. During gun battles, you can use one of two techniques to aid you in combat: Bullet Time and the Shoot Dodge. Bullet Time allows you to put everything in slow motion for a limited amount of time while you shoot the criminals. This is great for areas packed with enemies. Shoot Dodge is a technique where Max Payne will jump in the direction he's running, causing the action to slow down as he shoots. This is excellent for dodging gunfire in tight places or shooting people while coming around the corner. Either technique is fun to watch as you play and adds greater depth to the basic gameplay.

As a solid built action game, Max Payne stumbles and nearly falls flat on its face. To be honest, without Bullet Time and Shoot Dodge, Max Payne is an average action game where you move from one room to the next, shooting people along the way. There is rarely any need to do anything other than look for more ammo and painkillers. Even worse is the fact that every chapter is broken up in small portions. When you start an area, expect to wait some time for the level to load, then a few more seconds while the game auto-saves, then you can proceed through a few rooms, killing the handful of enemies available until you reach the next area and the process starts all over again.

Graphically, Max Payne doesn't really flaunt anything spectacular. The areas are often bland, simple rooms with only a few things littered about to make it feel like a hotel room or bar. The character models aren't overly detailed. Texture maps on the walls and characters are decently done, but for the most part everything looks like it was built for the Playstation a few years ago.

In all, Max Payne is a decent rental, especially if you want to find out what made Max Payne such a hot item when it came out for the PC. To be honest, if you have a powerful enough PC or an Xbox, you might consider playing it on one of those platforms to get a higher quality game graphically.

- - Vane

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