SummaryA fun but short game with too much of the same in it.
The GoodDeath Wish, Out for Justice, Marked for Death, Above The Law, etc, etc.. ever wished you could be in one of those dorky 70's-80's action flicks where everything boils down to "Bad guys killed your loved ones: Go get Some!!!", well add to that a lot of more contemporary pop-culture references, a Hong Kong Gun-Fu movie feel, some matrix "bullet-time" and you've got yourself Max Payne in a nutshell.
Not exactly the makings of the world's most artistic videogame huh? But fortunately Max Payne aims to be a braindead all-style-no-content shootfest, so the game nails the subject dead on. Want to shut down your brain for a while? Max Payne is the game for you: millions of bad guys to mow down in the most stylish ways possible thanks to the addition of a matrix-like bullet time function that exploits the dramatic effects of slow-mo to the max (John Woo would be proud), and gimmicks like super-dramatic deaths: even if they just received a beretta shot on a toe, the enemies jump and fly around whenever they die, etc. etc. etc.... It couldn't be cheesier! It couldn't be more perfect for the game either!
There isn't much revolutionary about the gameplay save for that little matrix gimmick, but by keeping it all simple Max Payne maximizes the level of entertainment found on the game. Who cares about strategy or stuff like that? It's all about picking up two berettas and going Chow-yun-fat on some moron's ass and Payne keeps it that way, that's fun isn't it? Well, for a while it sure is!!
Also something to take notice is the MaxFX engine, truly a piece of work, not only does it deliver an amazing level of detail, but it also has lots of customization options allowing you to get the most off your system. And while the levels themselves are not the most imaginative ever, they are filled with Duke Nukem-like "interaction points" that make them feel even more real, pick up a phone and you'll hear a tone, use a toilet and you'll flush it, etc, etc. add to that great sfx and music and you've got yourself a nice level of immersion for a nice ol' shooter.
The BadWell there are a lot of minor little problems with the game, starting with Max himself. He's got to be the dorkiest-looking character I've ever played in a game of this type, I feel even Guybrush Threepwood could kick his stupid-grinning butt. And his high-on-sugar gestures in the otherwise excellent comic-book cutscenes make it only worse. Other problems are the braindead AI (enemies will actually shoot themselves!), the completely linear nature of gameplay, the rather short lenght of the game (which IS a matter to consider when you think that these guys are asking you to pay 50 bucks for a game that delivers only 15 or so in value [not all off us can waste hard earned money into short unrewarding games just for the fun of it]), the "been there, done that" level design, etc, etc.
But the biggest problem in the game is the game itself. Because the gameplay may be fun, but it can become tremendously repetitive and even dull, and the whole Bronson-HK-Matrix thing by itself just can't hold up the game and in the end just drags the whole thing down. Not to mention that if you aren't on that sort of thing altoghether then this game has nothing for you save some nice eye-candy.
The Bottom LineIn the end it all comes down to how much "Payne" you can endure. Sure the game is fun, but after a while it loses it's splendor. And just like those Bronson-Seagal-Lamas dumb action flicks, you get the feel that they are fun to rent or watch on cable, but you wouldn't want to OWN them.... Max is solid fun, but it's short, repetitive, and mind-numblingly simple, I can't see why anyone would bother with Max, when there are just so many other good things out there. Unless that is, you want to show off your brand new GeForce455000 GTSExtraTurbo, add it the Matrix patch, and find it in a bargain bin.