Sunday, April 24, 2011

Max Payne Review

Game:  Max Payne
Year (s):  2001
Company:  dev.  Remedy Entertainment, et al
            pub.  Gathering of Developers, et al
Engine: MAX-FX
Type:  Third-Person Shooter
What I Paid: less than two dollars (it's old)
Game Time:  ~9 hours


You are Max Payne, police detective.  Three years ago, your wife and child were killed by junkies high on a new drug, Valkyr.  You joined the DEA and went undercover.  One of the only people that knows your are a cop asks to meet with you.  Mobsters kill him, and frame you.  You go on a rampage, purging New York City of criminals.  Oh, and there are references to Norse mythology, 'cause, you know, why not.


The MAX-FX engine is pretty humdrum, and doesn't offer anything I haven't seen before in Half-Life, Shogo MAD, or Unreal Gold. 

Bullet Time

Before FEAR came out, Max Payne had slow-mo.  In Payne, it's a dodging move that makes aiming a little trickier.  Ability is recovered by killing enemies.  Dialogue by enemies references John Woo and action movies where the hero dodges bullets.

It's Not Real

There are two segments that are hallucinations or nightmares.  Neither involve combat, but do involve jumping around, and to an extent, mazes.  It's a worthwhile attempt but a weak execution, but hey, it's a change from run-and-gun.


Having mentioned Bullet Time, the rest of combat is mostly standard.  Enemy grenades seem to be scripted.  A very brief segment demands stealth, and there is a helicopter that you can't kill- you just have to avoid.  Also seen in FEAR, you can carry healing items (in this case, painkillers).  Head-shots count for extra damage.  The camera angle lets you see around corners.  Combat has surprisingly difficult segments, until you get a sniper rifle.


This game has over-the-top, graphic novel narration.  It's so over-the-top that it's funny.  That helps to set it apart from the more serious alien/demon killing games of the generation.

Final Thoughts

A sequel was released in 2003, and in 2008, a Max Payne movie hit theaters.  I haven't seen these.  Max Payne 3, developed by Rockstar Studios (of Grand Theft Auto) instead of Remedy, has a release date of August 1, 2011.  Not only does Max Payne 3 change developers, it also goes from NYC to Sao Paulo.  Max Payne is dated, but I enjoyed it, and I don't have confidence that Rockstar is capable of creating the same gritty yet silly mood.