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

• Great story and voice acting
• Lots of gunplay and action

The Bad

• Blocky characters and furniture
• Platforming elements hampered by poor jump action


Imagine yourself thrown into a dark world filled with thugs, junkies, hookers, crimelords and a hard boiled cop who's been wronged and wants revenge. That's Max Payne in a nutshell. Max's tale starts as his family is killed by flipped-out druggies. He goes undercover to bust the crime family in hopes of revenge, but when his connection to the police is murdered and he gets framed for it, Max decides all bets are off and starts killing his way through the crime family.

Visually, Max Payne is gritty and dark. The world is sculpted in 3D, layered in a wide array of detailed texture maps and accented with various lighting and smoke effects. Running at an excellent frame-rate, the action can get fast and furious during gun battles. And once the fighting is over, you can look around to see the bullet holes and blood splatters that have decorated the environment. Character models, while covered in good texture maps, are blocky and move fairly unrealistically. Also, most of the furniture and even cars on the street are blocky and underdetailed.

The gameplay is your standard 3D action fare, where you walk through buildings shooting up enemies along the way, except with a few added features. The break in what could turn out to be a fairly standard action title is the addition of both Bullet Time and the Shootdodge action. Bullet Time allows you to slow time down, making it easier for you to shoot multiple enemies, and Shootdodge gives Max the ability to jump in Bullet Time to dodge opposing fire and often get the drop on enemies in rooms or around corners.

Audio-wise, Max Payne is top notch. Sound effects and the soundtrack work excellently to complete the total package. The voice acting performs a script that captures the whole "gritty gumshoe noir" well.

Max Payne's biggest flaws lies in it's basic structure. Platforming elements are a sure recipe for death as Payne's ability to jump or walk a straight line are called into question. And, if you were take away Bullet Time and Shootdodge, the action in Max Payne would be no different than most other games in this genre.

Max Payne for the Xbox is a good action title and an excellent transfer from the PC. Action fans in need of a good gun-toting game with an excellent story should look into this one.

- - Kinderfeld

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