Max Payne 2 Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Max Payne took the World by storm in 2001 with its groundbreaking graphics, cinematic narrative, and matrix-style special effects. Developed by Rockstar Games, best known for the successful Grand Theft Auto series.

For the uninitiated, Max Payne is a third-person shooter with emphasis on explosive gun battles. Pitched as a film-noir love story, Max Payne meets his match with Mona Sax, a seductive murder suspect. The story is told in graphic novel form, with gritty dialogue and plenty of plot twists for good measure. Subtitles introduce key characters in the story, pausing the action when they make their first appearance in the game. You play the title role of Max Payne, a hardened cop living on the brink of self-destruction.

Levels are set in seemingly mundane environments including hospitals, police precincts and warehouses. These characterless locations explode to life as soon as bullets start to fly. Bullets ricochet off walls leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. Explosions send debris flying in all directions, with waves of rippling energy reshaping the terrain. Fallen objects block previously accessible paths, requiring exploration to find a different route in order to progress. Yes, this is indeed a game of detail. Characters possess almost photo-realistic features, and all textures are stunningly detailed.

Sound plays an important role in Max Payne 2, working to both inform and mislead you. Overhearing two thugs talking in the next room, you slowly approach for a surprise attack. Diving round the corner with guns blazing, you discover the bullet-laden room is empty, with a solitary television blaring conversation from an old movie. Subtle effects like rain pouring off the roof of a warehouse add to the layers of detail present at every stage of the game. Max narrates the in-game action, as he tries to unravel the truth in his dangerously corrupt World.

Interactivity is another key feature that brings Max’s World to life. Everything from vending machines to bathroom taps are fully operable. Be sure to also interact with electrical appliances to be treated to some tongue-in-cheek radio and television shows such as ‘Captain Baseball Bat Boy’. One thoughtful terrorist left this honest message on their answering machine: ‘I’m not here right now, ‘cos I’m building some nasty things that kill’

Though Max Payne 2 is rich in detail, it is also a disappointingly short-lived experience. A competent gamer will be able to plough through the game in less then a day or two. Some effort was made to increase the longevity of the game by including some unlockable time based mini-games. These too are fun while they last, but don’t expect to be playing them in a years time.

While Max Payne 2 may not seem as cutting edge as its predecessor was in 2001, it still provides plenty of bang for your buck. Reports of the Playstation 2 version not living up to Xbox and PC releases are somewhat unfair, and the game makes full use of each consoles technology. It’s fair to say that the game features some of the best gunfights this side of a John Woo Movie. A short, but enjoyable action-adventure that is definitely worth checking out.

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