Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy -
Dec 15th 2003
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (MP2) is more than a game, it’s an experience. Since the original was released for the PC critics and fans have been awaiting another offering from the gritty detective Max Payne. The sequel picks up after the first game, giving us more Payne than ever.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is one of the few games that blends story and action perfectly. The high caliber of the action is equally as interesting and enjoyable as the twisting and intriguing plot. Another thing Max Payne does right is the pacing. Max doesn’t have any areas where the gameplay becomes to repetitive or slow, since the gunfights are mixed with the cinematic sequences and random visions in Max’s mind. The drawback to having a great game and story is the ending. In which I mean you don’t want it to end. MP2 is fairly short, like the original and leaves you wanting more.
The story of MP2 mainly revolves around a mysterious woman named Mona Sax. Through the game Max and Mona paths cross, but you never know each other intentions. MP2 carries over themes of murder, intrigue, sabotage, love and death. This game is aimed at more mature gamers and surprisingly there is a fair amount of brutal swearing in MP2. The presentation is very important to the story telling of MP2 and like the original they use dialog mixed with the visuals of a graphic novel. Max’s tale is fairly complex and you will never expect its twits and turns. Even after finishing the game, you would still be interested enough play over a few times, holding onto every bit of detail you can.
Enough story, where is the violence! I know your wondering about the trademark Matrix bullet-time effect. MP2 sure offers us the same intense action as the first, with bullet-time advanced included. The best way to use this effect to your advantage is the game is to shoot, doge and take cover and repeat. If the cover situation is lacking Max should be able to handle the situation adequately with the upgraded bullet-time system 2.0. The bullet time in MP2 now brings into effect another Matrix trademark with a time shifting effect. Max can now stay at his normal speed as the action slows down, instead of everything being in slow motion like the first game.
Max Payne 2 is a treat to play and the controls are easy to learn since the use the generic controls for a 3rd person action game. The games difficulty is set to change with the player’s skill level, it will adjust the bonuses like ammo and painkillers and the amount of enemies per level. This feature is impressive and like the first game you have to start on the first level of difficulty and work you way up.
Mr. Payne has the mojo, and on that count so does the beautiful and dangerous Mona Sax. The game gives us allot of cool things, which generates major mojo. Cool things you say? Bullet-Time advanced Max’s monotone voice, Sex, Violence and more daby!ream sequences that would give a hippy a flashback to his youth. Max although a little dull on the outside shines with character.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics in Max Payne 2 are impressive. They similar the original but with a more detailed and textured world. Max himself has had a makeover and now looks older, and more like a seasoned veteran then a rookie. The story board approach works again with charm, giving us some great art and keeps the look of MP2 fresh, and edgy.
MP2 graphics come by form of the Havoc engine which has been beefed up. The Havoc engine which not only looks great, but has implemented the now standard 'rag-doll' effect to the game, which has bodies flopping all over the place, and crashing back into walls and conveniently placed cardboard boxes. For those deviant minded folks, try this equation.
Granade + Unsuspecting Thug + Slow Motion ---- All in good fun, of course :)
The narrative voice work is second to none in MP2. The voice actor captures Max to perfection and strings us along with every word. The dialog is corny at times in its similarities to old school detective movies, but it would be as good any other way. Good old meledramic Max, I can’t imagine him at age eighty. Also the music selection and short instrumental score which is a repeated theme, is brilliantly simple and effective. The other effects such as whispering voices, bullets and ambience sounds are perfectly exicuted.
Max Payne 2 follows in the footsteps of what made Max Payne a great game without straying too far from its own successful formula. The main noted innovations are the ability to play another character, the new advanced bullet time, and the self-adjusting AI level. Max pay is innovative when you look at other action games, but when looking in the mirror its like putting on a new suit.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked by any gamer. Its takes everything that was great about the original gives us more. This is how story and action should be intergraded. A rental might be suggested because it’s a little short, in no way would be disappointed because the game is so rich.
GOTY AWARD: BEST CHARACTER OF 2003 - MAX PAYNE