Written by  :  JPaterson (9555)
Written on  :  Aug 14, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars

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Great game? Yes. Innovate? Yes. Blockbuster? No.

The Good

Much of the game is a great success. I'll discuss each aspect in detail.

"MAXFX" - The "MAXFX" is the engine the game uses, and it was built specifically for this game from the ground up. The detail put into this engine really showcases it's graphical prowess. It's visuals are absolutely jaw-dropping, and the "Bullet Time" effect really lives up to the hype.

Story - Very good, and quite original. It is one of the best plots conceived so far, and the only game that has a better story, in my opinion, is Deus Ex.

Controls - Controlling Max is a lesson in excellence, and designers of third-person games should take a cue from Remedy. It's excellent control all throughout, and performing special maneuvers is a cinch.

AI - The enemies are smart for the most part. They'll toss grenades at you and then back up to avoid the blast, they'll duck behind cover to evade your fire, they'll basically do anything a real person would.

The Bad

Gameplay - The game is very linear. For the uninitiated, linear means the game MUST be played out the way the developers intended, with no hope of any side quests or alternate routes. Compared to games like Deus Ex and it's open-ended gameplay, Max Payne really let down in this area. The bit that is really annoying is every door you come across is locked, unless it leads to a room with ammo or is required to advance the storyline.

In-engine cutscenes - These vary from okay to awful. After jumping off a train, Max lands square on his feet, then somehow does this 180 degree spin, without moving his body, and starts walking off. Shown in FMV or a slide screen, this could've been greatly improved.

Dream sequences - Later on in the game, Max has a dream, and you "play" this dream. You are required to maneuever on lines of blood in a pitch black room. What is the point to this? This has no belonging in a straightforward, brainless action game!

AI - Why's it bad? Sometimes, to get to you, the baddies will shoot their own guys. I witnessed, more than once, a shotgun toting thug but a load of buckshot into his friend because I was standing in front of said friend. The logical thing to do would be to stand beside the friend and fire at me together. I guess not a lot of "logical" equations got programmed into the game.

Bullet Time - Although a great feature that will be mimicked for a while to come, it has it's flaws, and the major one is the game relies too heavily on it. It is nigh impossible to fight without it, as you are almost never matched up one on one, making the slow motion very attractive at all times.

Max himself - Come on! He looks like he's taking a crap and trying to squeeze the rest out! Some facial animations would've been much appreciated.

System requirements - Too steep! Ouch! Pentium II minimum? Sure. Use 640x480 with antialiasing off and all details set to low, and perhaps you could squeeze out a decent performance. If you have anything less than a P3 800 with 256MB RAM, don't expect to get decent framerates or a smooth experience without sacrificing large amounts of eye candy.

Length - I beat this game in twelve hours, seventeen minutes, and thirty three seconds (timed it with a stopwatch). That is NOT long enough for a game lacking multiplayer.

Multiplayer - Fact: Multiplayer extends the life of a game. Max Payne has no multiplayer. You figure the rest out.

The Bottom Line

It's a good game that's worth your money, but after you beat it, it'll collect dust on your shelf. My advice to you is buy this game from Electronics Boutique on a Friday, play it over the weekend, and return it on Monday for a refund.