Written by  :  Sam Hardy (82)
Written on  :  Aug 18, 2004
Platform  :  Windows

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More Payne...

The Good

In 2001 Remedy Entertainment gave us Max Payne. A story about a man who was committed of a crime he did not commit, and thus sends sweet vengeance upon the entire New York crime syndicate.

Now a couple of years on the Fall of Max Payne continues this story. Is this just a classy revamp of what we've already seen or a bit more?

STORY Taking straight off from where Max Payne 1 left off - we continue the story of Max Payne. Just fresh from managing to get away with killing pretty much the whole of the New York underground - Max has left the DEA and has joined back with the NYPD.

While investigating a strange group of cleaners - Max runs into a problem - Mona Sax.

While this story purposely takes off many film Noir ideas and themes - it's still quite well done - it flows on smoothly and it's quite engaging.

MENU Very much the same as the last Max Payne - a image of Max and Mona against some rainy backdrop that has had many photoshop filters slapped onto it. Even the loading bar is the same - have I been here before?

CONTROLS Well - they're exactly the same as from the first game. Left Mb you fire, Right Mb for the very funky bullet time WASD for moving and so on. The only little difference is that grenades, melee weapons and molo cocktails are now on a sub class of their own - meaning you just need to select what one you want - then hit F to throw them. I would have preferred a separate key for melee - as it's so fun whacking things.

GRAPHICS Running on a Geforce 2 TI - I had visions of trying to play the Max Payne 1 demo on my aging Celeron 400 with the TNT 2 (it actually ran) But no - what ever stunning optimization tricks the developers used - they used very well. I experienced very little slowdown in the game with everything (bar shadows) on full. I was unable to check out the pretty pixel shaders ...but still.

The texturing along deserves to win an award - I have never seen our world represented in a hyperrealistic way as this game has presented it - it was very scary. Also things like plastic has been very well textured. On a higher system I'd imagine the textures would be a bit better. But nevertheless I was constantly blown away by their very well done application of textures for the game.

The game character models have been greatly improved. No longer does Max look like he's got a hot poker shoved up his arse - but he looks far more realistic. So does other characters - like Mona - who at times bears a passing resemblance to Demmi Moore. Other game characters turned out to be well done - even the henchmen and goons that you fight - while their polycount is lower - they still have plenty of detail on them.

Misc things like bullets and bullet holes are well done - a nice thing to note is firing into metal things - the holes glow orange then slowly fade from the bullet cooling down. Explosions are pretty :D And there's some stunning flame effects in the game. A good example of a pretty explosion is shooting Ammo crates - little bullets fire out everywhere - and there's lots of white flashes as well as a strobe effect for the lighting used in the action - it's very cool. Especially in Bullet time.

HAVOK 2.0 Well the physics engine in this game is worth half the price of admission. It's very well done. Games like Detestation used Havoc - but very poorly - things didn't move about realistically - you would have boxes that would slide through other boxes ....and things like heavy metal barrels would just shoot across the room - so I was a bit curious to see how this would work out.

It worked out better than I could think of. Each level is filled with tons of things to toy with - buckets of paint, planks of wood, explosive barrels and many more things that are fun to play with. My only concern that some things are a bit too easily to topple over - like chairs - you just have to walk into one and it falls over a bit too soon. Rag doll physics are very well done - unlike most other ragdoll attempts - like Ravenshield for example where people died in amusing pretzel positions - the developers had remembered that the human body DOES have a spine in their back. While there's a few weird arm positioning from a person being weirdly draped over various objects - generally it's very well done. The best pose I've seen was a guy who's head was pushed up against a plank of wood - shoving it to the side - giving it a very broken neck appearance.

Animations are very well done - as there's a fair bit of in-game character movement - all appear to be motion captured and shift flawlessly from one pose to another - even with a character in the middle of a dive getting shot seamlessly blends from his dive animation - to the ragdoll taking over and sending them into something.

GAMEPLAY Short version: more of the same. Long version: While the core game play is still there - run and gun in slow mo - this has been expanded on quite a bit. The enemies are a tad smarter and in numbers tend to flank you - if they're not caught by surprise. Bullet time has been given a bit of an upgrade. After shooting so many people down in Bullet time - Max does this Matrix ish slow motion reload spinny thing as well as the camera spinning around him indicating that you've entered "the zone" where things get slower. The downside is that you hardly get enough bad guys to really use this - plus it wears off after a while meaning you have to kill MORE people.

Now and then in some levels you get NPCs to join you. In one level this included a Akimbo Pistol packing Hobo and a Hooker. In some levels you have to protect people. Including one of the main villains who is trapped in a giant Baseball bat boy costume with a bomb stuck in it. Switching genders you also play as Mona - taking an alternate view on a game level and protecting Max with your sniper rifle.

Getting around the levels is a piece of cake - there were probably a few little bits where I had to stop a bit and work out where to go....but most of the time it's very linear. There's some great levels though - like the fun house level for instance and It's hard to find faults in a game like Max Payne 2.

And while the game play is repetitive -there's many little things that make it more detailed - like the goons having conversations, the constantly reoccurring end credit,s found on CDs in Max's apartment and is played on a piano by henchmen. Also the TV shows reappear, and you can follow the story. The two more prominent ones are "Lords and Ladies" - a Soap opera and "Address Unknown" Also right at the start there's the malarious Max Payne Parody "Dick Justice" - which parodies the start scene from Max Payne 1 where his wife gets killed. There are amusing conversations throughout the game as well - giving it a bit more depth than the first game.

And when you've done the game - there's the dead man walking game - where you must get the best time in a series of levels where guards constantly spawn.

The comic books make a reappearance again - but this time with professional actors for a change. Sam Lake still appears on the TV as various characters in the TV shows. Also the mature tone is upped a bit with a sloshing of sexual actions - well it is a love story.

The Bad

The biggest one would have to be - that it's short. Cut out the comic book parts, and the in game cinematic and would probably stop at 8 or so hours...but that's a good thing in a way - the game's length is just right I suppose - there's no filler - it does not end too suddenly and the story is whole and complete.

A friend commented that you get too much of an arsenal at the start of the game - which is true - but I don't really see that being a problem.

Another problem with MP2 is probably that it's suffering a bit from re playability - sure the levels are kick-arse - and I'm enjoying playing through them again - but there's not much else to do in the game.

The Bottom Line

If you're a fan of the first Max Payne - then you'll love this game. If you have not played the first game - then you might feel a bit lost with some aspects of the story. On top of all that - Max Payne is a very well done game in my opinion - it may be short - but it's not lacking substance, depth and fun.