Fun, but over hyped
May 20, 2002
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There was some novelty in playing a role in a HKBO (Hong Kong Blood Opera), diving out of door ways blasting bad guys in slow motion but it's not quite as cool as the movies. The voice acting is done well and is of a good quality, the story is told through comic strips which is different and Max Payne narrates. Payne spews metaphors and similes for most situations which make you think he should be a novelist instead of a cop. The levels have lots of minor details like smoldering cigarettes in ash trays, rats, cobwebs and working water coolers and bar taps, while levels in general are detailed in the volume of chairs, tables and cupboards put into rooms making the general room far more realistic than the cuboids that inhabit Half Life's 'high tech laboratories'.
The game is so incredibly, mind numbingly repetitive, the game play consists of diving through a door and shooting a bunch of guys then diving through another guy and shooting a bunch of guys who look suspiciously like the last bunch of guys, which is possibly because there are only 5 different opponents in the entire game. The bad guys are either a selection of 3 New York mobsters (usually some variation on a bad suit), a balaclava clad mercenary or 'Killer Suits' - guys in matching black suits and black sun glasses, much like secret service agents, and are the only bad guys in the last 1/4 of the game. The enemies are about as bland vocally as they are visually, the only things they say are "Payne!", "It's Payne!", "Get him", "Contact with the enemy" or "Send reinforcements" which you can guess would be repeated very often. The AI is very ordinary, if they have a clear shot at you they will stay still and shoot at you until you move, apon which they will follow you unless you run too far away, the occasional enemy will dive to the side once or twice then start shooting but they will never, ever notice that you have thrown a grenade at them, or that firing their grenade launcher at this range will kill them as well. The story is rather cliched, a man has his family killed and seeks revenge, it sounds similar to the Charles Bronson 'Death Wish' series, so much so that it seems the Max Payne doesn't really care as he drones on in his monologues and soon after the third monologue I stopped caring as well. Because the game is in third person the camera will often be your worst enemy, crouching near a wall will completely obscure your view. Game play is almost completely made up of 'hit the hammer with the biggest, loudest hammer.' which leaves the game feeling hollow.
The Bottom Line
A good shooter for people with short attention spans or hype monkeys who are attracted by bright lights. Completely linear and fairly simple, Max Payne is good game but has lots of room for improvement, just throw it onto the pile of other recent shooter titles.