Written by  :  Scott Monster (1014)
Written on  :  Aug 21, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars

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Max is back and even more maudlin!

The Good

Remedy has successfully pulled off an unlikely game. This game plays like a game, but looks and feels like a movie. The characters are detailed and unique, contributing to a fully developed story. There are no points of the game that feel contrived; it’s all very tightly integrated in to the experience.

The graphic update from the original is subtle but very effective. The fact that you can knock items over is more of a novelty. The rag doll physics are entrancing to watch. You can see a goon fall off a ledge and land, while twirling in slow motion. If you have a DirectX 9 compliant video card, you can see numerous realistic lighting effects. Particularly interesting is the way the shading of the figures change as the figure moves in and out of light zones.

The developers strived to create a realistic looking environment. With countless textures and well-placed ambient sounds, it is truly immersive. The grit on the walls, the graffiti, the busted floor tiles and the wood grain of varnished furniture, amazing. As for the sound, turn on the EAX sound feature if your PC has it. You’ll thank me later.

The voice overs were very well done. Unlike most games, I tended to forget that I’m listening to a guy sitting in a recording studio. The game was scored like a movie. The style really worked for the game. It even had a surprisingly beautiful ending theme written by Sam Jarvi and performed by Poets of the Fall.

The game play. Bullet time is back, and better than ever. You can aim in real time while sliding through in slow motion. It’s never tiring, watching Max Payne leap out in slow motion and aerially assault goons. The ammo is plentiful and the bad guys fall with such force. They made one particular improvement that I appreciate. You can take the bad guys out in more than one way. Explosive barrels and gas cans are strategically placed so you can fire a couple well-aimed shots and take out a room full of mercenaries. I admit to taking a sick little joy as I see armored bad guys literally blown over to the other side of the room.

There was a minor element of puzzle solving and looking for alternative ways of getting around a situation. A nice change of pace in the game.

The story is actually pretty good. It has 2 lead mobster characters. Cognitti returns from the original, sounding even more like Joe Pesci. Vladimier Lhem also returns, playing a charismatic ex-gun runner, who has brought a reluctant Max Payne in to his plans. Baseball Bat boy makes an unusual cameo.

The ending was a bittersweet surprise. In all the years I’ve played computer games, this is the first time I’ve seen a game end on a note of redemption.

The Bad

It was too short. Small parts of the music were a little distracting. Not as linear as the first, but there was room for improvement.

And the load times. Gaahh.

The Bottom Line

Play it for an experience.