Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Moby ID: 10708

[ All ] [ PlayStation 2 ] [ Windows ] [ Xbox ] [ Xbox 360 ] [ Xbox One ] [ Xbox Series ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 86% (based on 59 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 260 ratings with 12 reviews)

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.

Windows · by Scott Monster (986) · 2004

Max Payne 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Good
Max Payne 2 the sequel to the critically acclaimed PC smash, is not only as fun as the original but in many ways exceeds it. That’s right it is better. I wanted to review this one for the PC, but there were too many reviews, so since I also played this version I decided to write it for this one.

Max Payne 2 introduces us to a wreak of a man. Max’s head is messed up and as you play the game you unravel the last few days of Max’s life and see his fall from grace and his fall for another woman. The story is still told using graphic novel style panels. Max can still slow time and still kick ass. The plot in this one is even darker than that of the original, and told almost backwards like film noir. Other than that I do not buy that ‘film noir love story crap’ how can it be film noir if it is not a film?

Anyhow Max Payne 2’s plot is just as good as the originals albeit darker, and told out of sequence. Many of the characters return many with bigger roles, as well as some new ones. Max is now a brooding drunk, you will find many of the characters have changed quite a bit none however as much as Payne.

The Graphics are simply amazing in this one. Max no longer looks constipated. The lighting effects are incredible even on lower end PC’s and of course on the Xbox, the PS2 version however does not fare well in this department, let’s face it the PS2 can’t run this game so why does it try?

The sound/ music is good. Loud and convincing gunshots, play it on 5.1 surround sound! The music is excellent particularly, “Late Goodbye” preformed by Poets of the Fall.

The gameplay is very similar to the original. With a very important change. Max can now shoot dodge without using up any of his bullet time meter. This move is essential to victory and very handing going around corners with foes on the other side. It is so useful in fact that you will find yourself relying on it more than the bullet time!

The Bad
The bad, Max Payne 2 can be finished in about 3 hours, it is very short even for an action game. When I rented the Xbox version I finished it before it was due back!

The Bottom Line
Overall this sequel does a rare thing it surpasses the original. And you can pick it up for 10 bucks if not less! Do not play the PS2 version it sucks, hell the PS2 could barely run the first one.

Xbox · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006

One of my favorites!

The Good
The graphics are very stylish, with the slow motion (bullet-time) effect. It is cool the viewing distance is so long, I particularly liked one of the last levels where you should snipe from far away. The way Max holds his weapon and moves around is also very cool.

The story: that was really great in the game. I haven't played the first Max Payne (yet), but I loved the way the story was presented in "Max Payne 2" through the comic-book sequences. The love story between Max and Mona was great.

The gameplay is just what I need: to shoot down bad guys, and nothing more. Of course, bullet-time effect is excellent: it is great to see how Max falls down, and while doing that shoots at his enemies.

The Bad
It was a bit too short. I think it was possible to develop more the love story between Max and Mona.

The Bottom Line
I recommend this to anyone who loves action, love, and shooting bad guys!

Windows · by reeZe Risowisch (11) · 2004

Some guys just shouldn't bother with the dames...

The Good
The original Max Payne was easily one of my favorite early Xbox titles. With a combination of film noir and graphic novel styles, it was easy to get sucked in, especially after you'd mastered the use of Bullet Time. Max Payne 2 easily surpassed it in almost all categories.

The first thing you'll notice is the change in the appearance of the characters. Models are more complex than in the previous game, especially in regards to the heads. Gone are the static photographic faces, which have been replaced with softer, more convincing textures, mapped to heads that feature mouths that move during speech. The effect was characters who felt more real, making it easier to become attached to the characters and story this time around. I’d originally been opposed to the aging up and conversion of Max into a stereotypical late-30s tragic badass in a trenchcoat, but it works well here and I actually prefer him to the younger Max. The entire world, even familiar places, feature better modeling, lighting, and textures as well. It's fitting that you'll revisit an area from the first game that's in the middle of renovation in the second. It may not be up to the PC version’s standards, but it’s still a beautiful game.

Bullet Time has also been changed up. As you take out enemies, your Bullet Time meter fills up. Once you’ve filled it up completely and keep pumping the baddies full of lead, the meter will begin to turn yellow. At this point, Max’s reactions become closer to real-time while everything is slowed down. Send an enemy flying and shoot a nearby exploding object to send him spiraling somewhere else. This becomes especially fun when you turn a group of bad guys into a midair corpse ballet. Another addition when in the yellow is the spin reload, in which Max spins while dumping clips, with the camera following him. On one hand, it may seem like a needless bit of animation, but in the case of a large firefight, it gives you a quick 360 view of the scene. It’s a great effect when you’ve just sent the last of three guys into the air. Once you’ve mastered the altered Bullet Time, you’ll find the real meat of the game and quite possibly lose yourself in a Zen-like trance.

The sound engineer is to be applauded, especially when it comes to vocal effects. Besides the standard face-to-face conversations, you’ll hear characters through doors, over speaker phone, over an intercom, etc., and each sample is convincingly muffled, echoed, distorted and spacially-placed. Explosions, gunfire, and environmental sounds are in the same league, as is the effect applied to them when Bullet Time is kicked in. When the world slows down with a full-auto machine gun, you can even hear the parts of the gun moving. And mind you, this is just using a stereo setup. The soundtrack features some nice arrangements of the original music, and everything fits the mood very well. The track by band Poets of the Fall, which plays at the credits, was a welcome addition that truly capped off the movie-like experience.

The Bad
The only real issue that I had with the game was the short length, which also seemed to be the main complaint by most. For anyone who bought the game at $50, it was likely a disappointment. At $20 or less, maybe not. I’d rented it, beating it quickly and blazing through in half the time on my second attempt.

I do wonder about the addition of the melee attack though. Not once did I need to resort to it out of a lack of ammo, nor did it seem all that effective when I did use it. Perhaps more experienced players can go on a pistol whipping frenzy when Bullet Time has gone into the yellow, but I was so trigger happy that I'd never thought to try. Most likely, they just decided to have Max able to do something when the button was pressed while he wasn't carrying grenades.

The Bottom Line
Where many could easily dismiss Max Payne 2 as being little more than a short expansion disguised as a sequel, I found a game that improved upon the original’s strengths while tightening the design overall to help match the pace of a film. Not every story needs fifteen to eighty hours to tell. Besides, any game you can blaze through but still get sucked into and enjoy can’t be all that bad, can it?

Xbox · by DarkBubble (342) · 2007

Is the glass half empty or is it half full?

The Good
INTRODUCTION: Still going down.
I am Max Payne.
My wife and daughter were murdered. It had something to do with the designer drug "V".
With nothing to lose, I went after the mafia during the worst snow storm in a century.
The pursuit threw me against a secret conspiracy involving people behind the government, behind everything. I was In over my head.
In the end, my enemy turned out to have a name: Nicole Horne.
I killed her, and I gave myself up to the police. That same night, the snow storm stopped.
Horne's enemies took care of it all. I came out clean, I was even turned into a hero, the brave cop who single-handedly got rid of the worst NY mafia family, along with the threat of "V".

I went back to the NYPD.

I lied to myself that it was over.
I was still alive, my loved ones were still dead.

It wasn't over.

Max Payne wakes up in a hospital, wounded beyond the point a human body could logically sustain. He steps out of the bed, he knows his life's in danger, even here. Stumbling through the rooms, with his typical narrative greatness he comments "You can't run away from the past. You'll end up running in circles."

It all started as a normal NYPD detective night. Max took a call to attend an apparent hostage situation at a certain downtown warehouse. It wasn't his kind of thing, but he knew the owner of the warehouse: Vladimir Lev. The russian smooth operator, the head of the russian mob who helped him in his crusade against Nicole Horne.
Max finds something dirty going on in the warehouse. Right when backup is arriving, he catches a glimpse of a ghost from his past: Mona Sax, the beautiful hired killer that was also behind Horne. But... wasn't she dead? Max was sure he saw her die.
Or did he?...

MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE is the sequel to the much-acclaimed MAX PAYNE (duh), the third-person perspective shooter with stylish and grim storytelling full of film-noir dialogue, and the gameplay-candy that turned the dream true for fans of the movie The Matrix: the slow-motion red-hot gun-fighting system known as Bullet-Time.

VISUAL EFFECTS AND PHYSICS: The ultimate mod.
When I finished the first MAX PAYNE, I liked it so much I went on to try some of its famous mods. That game has been virtually re-written a hundred times by fans, giving us the possibility to re-play it as a samurai, a jedi knight, a class-B kung-fu movie hero, and a Blade Runner, among others.
MAX PAYNE 2 feels, above all, like another mod. The best of them all, of course, since its programmers are the programmers of the first game. The game engine is the same MAX-FX engine used in the first game, which means the gameplay feels the same in several aspects. While recycling a 3-year old game engine could be a reason for some to raise an eyebrow, some have also said: if it ain't broken, why fix it?

The engine HAS been re-worked, and it tells.
First, the textures: the first game had amazing textures for scenarios and pretty good textures for character models, but you could see some serious blurs whenever the camera zoomed in, specially in character faces. This game, on the other hand, has uncanny extremely detailed textures for both scenarios and characters —no more blurs, not even in the closest-close-ups.
In the special effects dept, as one might expect from any self-respected current-generation game, we have eye candy of all the flavors: dynamic shadows work, lighting, reflections, weather, particles...
However, none of the above can be compared to the vedette of the game: the physics.
MAX PAYNE 2 licensed the Havok 2.0 physics engine, and the thing is a masterpiece. The gameworld is as interactive as it gets. Everything in the scenario is alive. Boxes, staircases, chairs, tables, brooms, buckets —everything reacts to contact. You bump on a pile of objects and the pile falls down making a mess, you can push a box on a person's heads and knock him out, a falling body can crash against a table scattering everything that was on it...
The game also uses a beautiful ragdoll effect for the animation of dying bodies, meaning that you won't ever see the same death twice, or that you can keep shooting a dead body and it will shake accordingly, depending WHERE you hit it.

As players of the first game know, Max hasn't had a good sleep for years. The moment he closes his eyes he lives a nightmare, and the game continues inside it.
In this game, the nightmares have changed in two key aspects: first, they are more like an interactive cutscene, with no platforming whatsoever —in fact there's no way to die at all while dreaming; and second, here is where the developers put the greatest amount of eye-candy. The dreams have been STUFFED with fancy special effects, eerie lighting, volumetric fog, walls bending, motion blur... you have got to see it.
Also, the concept of these dreams makes them MUCH more believable than before, the locations change its shape suddenly, Max gets to see himself in different situations, other characters show up and speak to him... it all feels like a real nightmare alright.

Now, how much do you think this all can cost?
Well think again, Jack.
One of the most amazing features of the game is the scalability it offers: you can turn on so many effects that your new 300-buck super video chip will reach temperatures high enough as to fry eggs on the heatsink, but you can also turn stuff off to the point the game runs in a pocket calculator!
...
OK, maybe I got a little carried away, but the fact is, I have a friend who managed to run this game with a 600MHz PIII CPU and a GeForce2 video card, which IS some achievement, specially since the game itself recommends at least 1GHz CPU and a fully-DirectX8-compliant video card.

GAMEPLAY: What Matrix?
This sub-title should need no further explanation, but I like to write, and if you don't like reading long-ranting reviews, you probably never reached this point, so here we go.
The first MAX PAYNE was praised by several aspects, but there were two MAJOR gameplay-candy features we all loved: Shootdodging and Bullet-Time.

Shootdodging consists exactly in that: by the pressing of a magic key, you take a sideways dive, the action is slightly slowed down, and until you hit the floor you keep shooting and moving the camera, thus aiming in different directions on the fly :P
The Shootdodging in MAX PAYNE 2 has been slightly enhanced. In the first game, once you landed, Max would automatically stand up, which more often than not meant a few holes through his fancy leather jacket. Here, he keeps shooting until you release the fire button.
This is much more useful than you can imagine by reading this, specially if you played the first game.

As for Bullet-Time... well, everyone and his dog knows what this is. If you haven't seen any of The Matrix movies, you probably saw Charlie's Angels, or ANY other action movie made after 1999. If not, the thing has already been used for TV commercials, music videos, and high-budget porn. You SAW it. Lots of times: When an action scene begins, a slow-motion effect takes over, making it all look dramatic and pretty fancy, with camera pans and zooms. MAX PAYNE was the first videogame to get it right, several years before an official The Matrix game was even announced, and even today it stands as the unbeaten king of Bullet-Time. Not even the official ENTER THE MATRIX can compete with it.
MAX PAYNE 2 sports Bullet-Time 2.0, with an interesting twist. First, for eye-candy's sake, the whole scene suddenly changes colors and brightness levels, and the slow motion is decorated with motion blur, an effect that's becoming more and more popular nowadays (ironically, several years after 3dfx, the first company to bring it up, imploded); second, the real thing: at first the speed difference is not much noticeable. As you kill enemies in this mode, you gain more time for the effect to last, and the scene slows down more and more, while Max maintains his speed.
Again, this is something that has to be experienced to fully understand it.

Moving on, the difficulty deserves a small note, for I feel it's been very nicely balanced. I readed that the game configures the difficulty on the fly, depending on the player's skills —whether or not this is the case, the thing is, I remember using Shootdodging in the first game only as a fancy feature to make the game more fun, and not using Bullet-Time AT ALL. In this game, on the other hand, Shootdodging will be a real life-saver several times, while a good use of Bullet-Time is MANDATORY in crowded firefights.

Other interesting gameplay additions include a few new weapons, the possibility to interact with some friendly NPCs (some of whom will even join us fighting the bad guys), and switching between playable characters at a few parts of the game.

STORYTELLING: Watch more TV!
The storyline has been a little more worked on this time around, but it still doesn't stand as a truly remarkable aspect. It does however offer a few plot twists (mostly related to the reappearance and band-switching of characters from the previous game), a few brilliant tension-building scenes which reach surprising conclusions, and a somewhat more intriguing storytelling.
Above all, I found Max's classic "film noir" quotes much more attractive in this game. If you liked his phrases the last time, prepare to meet a truly inspired Max.

Like it also happened in the first game, there is a lot of storytelling-support through the use of paralell devices, such as idle conversation between NPCs, TV shows, different types of advertising, phone messages, et cetera. Provided you have the patience to pay attention to all those kinds of things, you'll find several smart winks to the story, to the first game, and to several TV and cinema classics. In this dept, there are at least three much-welcomed returns: the corny soap opera "Lords And Ladies", the morbidly hilarious "Captain Baseball-Bat Boy" (now a cartoon), and my favorite: the grim-atmosphere TV show "Address Unknown", which mixes the likes of Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone —this time playing a MAJOR part in the game.

REPLAYABILITY: A masochist's paradise.
Finally, another aspect that has been nicely enhanced from the first game is the replayability factor.
The amount of special gameplay modes unlocked after the first playthrough has grown up considerably. This time not only we unlock progressively harder difficulty levels and the famous "New York Minute" mode (which gives you a time limit to complete each stage), but there are also a few new modes.
The most promising is "Dead Man Walking". In this mode, you WILL die, insanely outnumbered by enemies, there's no solution for that. The only question is, how long will you last before that happens?
Talk about an enticing challenge...

The Bad
CHARACTER MODELS: 2001 is already done, people...
Like I said, MAX PAYNE 2 is using a modified version of the engine from the first game. Almost every bad thing that can be said about this game is related to the fact that you don't really feel it like a sequel, but more like a mod.
The game engine IS a good engine, and they managed to pack a truckload of serious enhancements in it, but some limitations are still noticeable.
The most annoying problem to my eye is the character models. Despite all the bump-mapping, the hi-res textures, the pixel shading, and what all not; the models look outdated for the current time. On top of that, some of the enhancements don't fit the engine correctly: I don't know if it's a problem of my particular video card or if it's the game itself, but once you turn the detailed shaders on, some details look exaggeratedly detailed. The characters skin for example, look shiny, as if they were made of leather. Or if they had some hardcore baby-oil bath.
Another issue I found annoying is the newly-presented lip-synch. First, this is the stone-age old muppet-mouth-like lip-synch, which is unacceptable in a time when the hardware Vertex Shaders allow marvels in facial expressions as we saw in SOUL REAVER 2, or the second and third SILENT HILL games. Second, and even worse, most of the times the lip-synch doesn't work properly, and sometimes it doesn't even work —at all. You hear the voice, but the mouth doesn't move.

GAMEPLAY: Always in a rush.
Even though the gameplay in MAX PAYNE 2 easily count among the smoothest you can find out there, there are a few issues to note.
First, I found the camera strangely troublesome, much more than I ever did in the first game —Max's own body would get in the way, not giving me a proper vision of the enemies I was fighting. This of course does happen every now and then in any third-person perspective action game, but I have the impression that it happened a few too many times in this game.

Another thing I found annoying is that Max, like in the first game, is always in a rush.
This game features a few calmed-down stages, throughout which one could pay some attention to the details, and catch a breath after all the pulse-pounding gunfight. For example, there's a stage which starts in the NYPD building, where you'll need to have a few conversations before the action begins. This kind of stages could be navigated slowly, calmed, in a normal-walking pace... if only Max was able to do anything besides desperately running.
I don't know whether our good NYPD detective is drinking too much coffee, or his unfortunate life took a serious toll on his nerves, but the thing is, Max can not walk. In the enclosed halls of the NYPD precint, you'll feel like a moron, all the time bumping on stuff because Max crosses a room before the door even got to close.
Of course, in action sequences this leaves any kind of surprise attack or sneaking from behind well out of the picture.

Even though I found the NPCs tagging along Max a great idea, this won't happen more than three times throughout the whole game, and these NPCs won't perform as well as one could expect. They will require a lot of protection from your side, and when you least expect it, you'll find them stone-cold, laying on the floor.

Finally, the game is, as its predecessor, a 100% linear ride. No exploring, no secret areas, no adventuring, no interactive conversations... nothing out of the good old if it moves, fill it all full of lead. Of course, some may think this fits in the good. I don't.
You know, tastes.

STORYLINE: The easy cure.
I said the storytelling was pretty good, but the storyline itself is pretty weak.
When you start writing a sequel, there are two easy ways to do it that jump in your head at once: either you recycle the exact same structure for the story, making a number of changes as to disguise the swindle a little (think SILENT HILL 3 or METAL GEAR SOLID 2), or you take whoever character survived the first story and make the sequel based on them. MAX PAYNE 2 relies on this last resource, it takes the few survivors from the first game, takes a few points that might be interpreted as well-concealed loose ends or simple plot holes, and writes a film noir love story, in which the two main characters run against the clock trying to uncover who is the survivor from the first game who wants them dead. For one thing, MAX PAYNE left so few survivors that you pretty much have a 50% of chance to figure who the bad guy is, alone with the tossing of a coin.
Once again, the story makes the game feel like a very good mod to the first game, and not a real full-scale sequel.

Even the storytelling-enhancing devices I praised so much are recycled from the first game, and while they MAKE this story very enjoyable, they also add to this general impression.

The Bottom Line
Is the glass half empty or is it half full? In this case it's the same as asking: is this a low-profile sequel or is it the ultimate mod?
MAX PAYNE 2 is basically more of the same, but every single thing that was good in the first game is at least as good in the sequel. In fact, more often than not, it's WAY better.

So, in the end, it comes down to this: if you enjoyed MAX PAYNE, chances are you're gonna LOVE MAX PAYNE 2.

Now, if you didn't like MAX PAYNE... well, I don't even know what you're doing in this website.

Windows · by Slug Camargo (583) · 2003

Certainly a great game, but not necessarily better than the original.

The Good
If you've played Max Payne, or have Internet access, or you're not a caveman, then you probably know what Max Payne is, and chances are you know what it's all about. It's about slow-motion gunfights with graphic novel cutscenes and Max with a funny look on his face.

In Max Payne 2, the gameplay is enhanced, and the funny face is gone, but at its core, it's still the great Max Payne we knew from 2001. Gunfights are fought in a similar manner, but with Bullet Time 2.0, you can actually utilize it rather than being forced to "shot-dodge" every time you want to kill someone. Using bullet-time in Max Payne 2 is a spectacular sight. The colors change, the screen goes kind of blurry and it completely immerses you in the world of Max Payne: Faster Than God. And with the best ragdolls I've ever seen in a game, gunfights are a blast to play over and over and over.

Gunfights are what this game is all about. With a plethora of weapons at your disposal, and of course with the aid of Bullet Time 2.0, you'll blast your way through an insane amount of enemies, each one who may be almost as strong as you, only lacking the bullet-time advantage. This means that the game really does require a bit of skill on your part, and you won't be able to just stand in the middle of a gunfight taking the hits. Use your bullet-time, shot-dodge the blasts, take cover, and use the environment to your advantage.

And boy, how you can use the environment! The guys who made this game must have put great effort into making a TON of interesting quirks in the environment. With the amazing physics in the game, you can use these against the enemy (whether you're intending to or not) and they can use it on you. Imagine, you charge into a room with a staircase. Enemies are flying up the stairs, and behind you more are coming. You spot a tank of gasoline on a box. Switch to bullet time, dodge some gunfire, blast the gasoline. The tank ignites and flies into the first guy on the stairs. He topples backward and the tank follows him down. Suddenly the tank explodes, blowing a hole at the bottom of the stairs. The blast throws the box against the door, blocking any further entry from the flankers. Whoever else was on the stairs is now dead or falling down into the hole left by the tank's explosion. You look down to see pieces of the wall, boxes, bodies, tumbling down the stairway into the hole. You jump down yourself and find you can use this area as a second passageway to where you were heading. This is just one of many, many incredible outcomes I encountered in the game.

As well as incredible gunfights, there is an interesting story to go along with it. The same mood from Max Payne is back, with graphic novel cutscenes progressing the story further.

The game also has incredible graphics, and even more incredible is that I can run the game at medium-to-high detail levels on high resolutions on my piece-of-shit computer and STILL get amazing frame rates. The graphics-to-framerate ratio is hands-down the best I've seen on my system. This is one of the few games that actually stays true to its "system requirements", unlike many games in which still run like ass even if you have more than the recommended system specs. If you were reluctant to get this game because you were afraid it wouldn't run - buy the game!

The Bad
Despite all the greatness in this game, I can't help but feel like I enjoyed the first one more. Now, don't get me wrong, Max Payne 2 is a solid game, and a hell of an experience...but, well, let me just list some things that bothered me.

The writing. I just can't believe that the same writers worked on both games. In the original Max Payne, Max would always have some interesting metaphor to say in the cutscenes, and perhaps it was just that stupid smirk he had in the game, but I always got the feeling that Max didn't take the world too seriously. It didn't change the dark mood of the game - if anything, it enhanced it. Max was hurting bad inside, but he only let us know about it - never his enemies. But in Max Payne 2, Max is always depressed. I don't think he smiled once, or even suggested that he wanted something other than to die. And he almost never uttered a quirky metaphor - when he did, it was ho-hum, not nearly as clever (or cheesy!) as in Max Payne. A good example of different writing is when his boss is yelling at him for letting innocents die. In Max Payne 1, he would have been spitting out metaphors and insulting his boss in a cheesy quirky way, comparing the predicament to off-the-wall situations, similes that had you raise an eyebrow. But in Max Payne 2, he just pleads to his boss that the situation got out of control, that he needed to crack the case, boo-hoo-hoo.

Max also looks much more realistic in MP2, but he looses a lot in that transition. He's now seems like a real person - a real depressed person, and not the suicidal life-is-too-fucked-up-to-take-seriously guy from the first game. MP2's Max did a fantastic job of portraying emotion...one emotion: depression. It was intense...but that was it.

Also, his voice has taken a noticeable change. He sounds like the same actor, but he has a sort of...Boston?...accent that just seems out of place. He also never raises his voice above a certain level, in-game or in a cutscene. In MP1, you heard him literally yell out for his wife, you heard him get angry at his enemies. But in MP2, he always stays at the same depressed please-kill-me volume level, devoid of emotion, life. "She was dead..." "I hated him..." "I dreamt I killed my wife..." always the same. Maybe if the lines had been wittier, it would have been acceptable, but...this isn't the Max I remember.

There are other things "bad" about this game. Lip-syncing is pretty buggy. Sometimes Max doesn't move his lips at all when he talks, other times it's ridiculously out of sync. Going through the same three levels two or three times was kind of awkward, but not too much.



The Bottom Line
Max Payne 2 is a great game. But any fan of Max Payne will notice a definite change in writing, style, voice acting, and so on. It's not necessarily worse than Max Payne...but it is certainly different.

If Max wasn't so damned depressed throughout the game, I might have enjoyed it more. But it's still a great game, with new game options, including a survival mode where enemies will continue spawning until they finally get you!

Worth the money, definitely. But it could have been more. I want to know where the original writers went.

Windows · by kbmb (415) · 2003

More than I hoped it would be.

The Good
Max Payne 2 made three large improvements over the first game in the series. Here is a quick overview:

First: The graphics engine was greatly enhanced, and a physics system was added - not only can Max knock over some pieces of furniture or other small items when he runs into them, but there are some amusing physical chain-reactions that can occur in some circumstances. For example, picture two dozen cafeteria-style chairs piled on top of an explosive ammo crate in the corner of a room. C'mon, you know you wanna toss a grenade in there and watch the result.

Also, the game's textures, especially the models and textures used for the stars of the show (Max and Mona) look gorgeous. Additionally, a number of visual effects were added - in Bullet Time, the screen becomes washed out and all of the colors become muted, and motion-blur effects are used liberally (but not too much). Even with a low-end videocard, you can get a very enjoyable visual experience. I first played this game with a GeForce4 MX, and had no significant graphics problems. Even Max's nightmare/hallucination sequences are severely distorted, visually, adding greatly to the experience.

Second: Bullet-Time (BT) was tweaked somewhat. You still have the familiar hourglass time-limit, but now it regenerates slowly over time. Also, shoot-dodging does not use up your BT reservoir anymore. And most importantly, when you enter BulletTime directly, and start racking up kills, Max moves faster and faster (or, to be more precise, everything else slows down relative to Max). As you gain "levels" in Bullet Time, the screen and sound effects get more and more washed-out, muted, and... "focused". Get enough kills, and Max finds himself running around in a blurred, sepia-toned "tunnel-vision land", with his enemies standing nearly (but not quite) motionless. Naturally, the BT "levels" are temporary in nature, so Max needs to rack up a good number of kills, fairly quickly, to hit his maximum level. They fade away over time as Max "calms down".

So with Bullet Time 2.0, the developers eliminated a large part of Max Payne 1's challenge (limited Bullet Time), in order to make the game more "fun". It certainly succeeds; it's very easy to get immersed in this game when Max is fully "in the zone". And assuming you can find a safe spot to rest for a minute or two, you'll always be able to enter the next battle with a full BT hourglass.

Third: Scripted sequences? Yeah, we got scripted sequences. Max Payne 2 has so many NPC and plot-advancement scripts, it makes Half-Life look dull by comparison. The first game had a few, here and there, but in MP2, there's almost always something going on.

Now, about the actual game itself.

The story in this game rocked. In some ways, it seems to actually be more story-oriented than action-oriented. But I love a good helping of Plot(tm) with my shooters, so it's all good. The actual environment is great, too - present in MP2 are the television shows from the first game, but you run into them at more frequent intervals. During a lull in combat, it's nice to relax and watch the adventures of Captain Baseballbat Boy, follow the story of Lords and Ladies, or catch up on Address Unknown. There is also a new "TV show", Dick Justice, which is seemingly a parody of Shaft combined with Max Payne 1. Always good for amusement.

The level design, with one exception, was excellent. The levels tend to be very large, and perhaps a little repetative at times, but there's enough variety that it's difficult to become bored and lose interest. It's even difficult to get lost in some of these large levels, which is also a plus. The levels include (but aren't limited to) a large building under construction (plenty of scaffolds to play around on), a surreal funhouse (based on Address Unknown), a burning building, a mansion, Max's apartment building, even the NYPD station Max works at. All of these environments have a ton of detail, and you sometimes find yourself revisiting them later in the game (except the second time around, they're very, very different, due to various Plot Activities(tm) that have occurred.)

Another neat plot device is that after playing as Max for a while, the perspective switches to Mona, and you guide her through the game for a while (don't worry; Mona can also use Bullet Time). The neat part is, Mona's stories take place roughly at the same time as Max's. This happens a few times during the game, and Mona typically enters a level from the "opposite side" as Max. So effectively, when your perspective switches to Mona, time reverses roughly one hour, and you play through the level again - just from the other end. I'm sure I'm not explaining it very well, but as a plot and character-development device, it works very well.

Ordinarily I hate "love stories", which Max Payne 2 certainly tries to be. But I must admit, it pulls it off very, very well.

I should also mention that the Max Payne series has a huge, active mod community. The level-design tools were released to the public, just like with the first game. Also, MP2 has a few different difficulty levels, just like the first game. Except if you complete the game at the hardest difficulty level, you apparently get a different, "happier" ending. I've never gotten there, myself - almost, but not quite. But still, even if you complete the game once, you unlock the "Dead Man Walking" levels. These are small, self-contained levels, totally unrelated to the plot, where enemies continually spawn in at shorter and shorter intervals. Your survival time is your "score" in these levels, and they're great for a few minutes of mindless action. How long can you last?

The Bad
I mentioned an "exception" above, in regards to level design. There is, apparently, a flaw in the level-design tool (or perhaps in the graphics engine itself). If your objects don't line up just right in a given map, if you don't cross every single T and dot every I, a significant number of errors are introduced, and the game goes berzerk trying to perform all of the calculations it needs to do. It doesn't corrupt the display, and it doesn't crash or anything, it just becomes VERY, VERY SLOW. Like, we're talking 1 frame every two seconds. Granted, this only happened to me once in the entire game, and only in one particular room looking in one particular direction (at a pile of junk and debris), and it's extremely easy for me to reproduce; it happens every time. But still, there's no real way around this problem, and you've simply got to trudge through it. I'm sure anyone in the mod community who has used the level-editing tools has run into this at least once in their own maps.

Also, I wish the Dead Man Walking mode was unlocked at the very start.

But you know, other than that, I don't really have any complaints. Except perhaps that the game was too short. It felt a lot shorter than the first game, somehow.

The Bottom Line
I'm sure that fans of Max Payne 1 would love this game. In fact, it even seems to stand alone well enough, which can be rare for a sequel. You don't need to be familiar with the first game to enjoy this chapter, but it helps - you'd probably miss a lot of the in-jokes and references otherwise.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2004

Yep, he fell alright...

The Good
Well here we have the sequel to one of the most brilliant third person shooters ever. Max Payne 2 comes to deliver one more aesthetical feast for your gaming world, as it's predecessor did in 2001. All the comic book intros and interludes are here too, all the cinematics and the brilliant cut scenes. Max Payne 2 sure does have a strong and equally complex story running in the background to support all this killing menace. What's more, they've managed to connect the new story with what happened in the first episode of Max Payne: "Have no fear! Vlad is here!". And Vlad nowadays has acquired the (excellent) Ragnarok club and turns it out to a classy restaurant called "Vodka"! Now, I dunno about the Vodka there, but surely the Molotov cocktails are strong enough! Some other old friends join the party too like detective Jim Bravura who's Max's supervisor these days, Alfred Woden (the guy who helped Max in the first episode) and the notorious Mona Sax (you thought she died but medicine does miracles nowadays!)... Oh! I shouldn't forget Vinnie Gognitti and his hilarious costume (the design and animation of this one is fantastic! The scenes where you have to protect Vinnie are a great laugh!)

Okay, let's begin from somewhere in this game. You see the intro comic and the cinematics and you're anxious to get into Max's new world. You see a hospital and a room where you lie on a bed just waking up from a shooting accident. Simply stated the modeling and texturing in this game is a masterpiece! I dare to say that the modeling has evolved a step beyond the first episode. As soon as you'll enter the hospital (the first level) you'll realize this - thank 3D Studio Max for that! :).

Regarding gameplay, all the good elements of the first episode are here too! All the gunfights and whizz-bam-booms, all the good stuff that made us wanting more of Mr.Payne. So this time he comes in better clothing ready to blast away all those in the higher levels of society that conspire to plunge us into doom, to their financial benefit. The weapons are more like the same, with the addition of the AK-47 Kalashnikov (thank Vlad for those!) and the very useful MP-5 (which was only available as a must have mod you could find on the web, for the previous game) that can work in more than one ways. As a tip: Just think about the option of using it on the sniping level.

Hey! Mona gets to be Maxie's new girlfriend! Yep, time gets by and time gets lonely, so Max needs a bit of companionship and a bit of love. I'm not going to tell you the story on this one, I'm only going to say that in this episode you get to play as Mona too (nice ...err.. jeans pants!). So the action goes back and forth, as Max and Mona (a bit like M&Ms!) engage the same level and you get to play both of them. You begin the level playing Maxie's part, then the whole place explodes (what an original outcome!) and then without knowing if Max has survived or not you're playing Mona's part to that explosion point of the plot. Differences in the two characters are that Mona is a bit more agile than Maxie but, more vulnerable to enemy hits and the latter is far more apparent.

Another evolution of the game is in the enemies AI. These guys will give you a hard time even in the easiest of difficulty levels. They do now how to fight and they do also know how to hide. Sometimes they are a nightmare, as they have some very clever AI code on them and they make you run for cover. Most of the times you cannot afford to play via the full frontal attack approach and you need to think of tricks and strategies to lay'em on the floor. Just make sure you don't run out of the good ol' painkillers and have a finger on the quicksave button. The final boss (I won't tell you who is he, it's a surprise!) is extremely difficult to kill and although the concept in defeating him has a bit of inspiration from the final level of Max Payne I, it is still very difficult to avoid his continuous fire and send him packaged to the bosses of the other world.

Musically and sound-wise the game packs in all the usual bam booms one can expect from a game in that vein. The title piano tune is remixed a bit but the sad feeling it emits is here too. So when the main menu loads up expect to hear a familiar tune that will bring the following associations to your mind: Night - New York - Winter - A life gone down the drain - running like a fugitive - start killing to find the answer.

The Bad
Okay, here goes the bad news though. Although being a better game than the first Max Payne, this one gets a bit too repetitive and to be honest, boring. I mean, I remember playing two levels which were situated at Mona's hideout. And then there is that construction site, which you get to play both parts, in fact it's like playing the same level two times. Oh! And if that's not enough, the hospital comes also in a double dose. It all reminds me the 'bloodline labyrinth nightmares' which you had to pass through in the first game, and that was innovative, but also annoying to me. It's sad, but I expected the same kind of scenery as in the first game, the scrubby urban flat complexes, the mansion and all that, but something more innovative than this. This one doesn't even try to impress in terms of innovation in level design. It must be that the developers didn't have any imagination left for level design after they finished the background story of the game... It's better done, but not better laid out, or thought about.

Speaking of the background story, I guess this time I lost the story somehow as it becomes too complicated and I believe that the furious game in conjunction with the over-complicated story doesn't mix quite well to a shooter gamer's head. And to be honest, in a shooter game like this one, you're far more eager to blast your way through the levels, rather than being curious about the secret conspiracies of this world. Okay, it's a good excuse not to label a game as a stupid shooter, and it's also a good excuse to cram in some art-comics gimmick, but I think that this kind of story backup is quite heavy for the given kind of game... I'm wondering to see what they'll come up with in the next Max Payne... Oh God!

Another drawback of the game is that some levels are ridiculously difficult. One that comes to mind right now is the second coming (!) in the hospital, where you have to escape through the guard on the door and some other guys upstairs. I admit, I've tried to cheat 'cause I got stuck for two whole days in this one, so I found some cheat codes for unlimited health and all guns on the web, but no use (well, only the painkillers cheat helped the situation), even if you have weapons (somehow!), the developers have coded the enemies invulnerable on that level. Yeah call me a lame gamer but I get really frustrated getting stuck on the same spot for a long period just due to lack of my super hero reaction abilities, or if anyone else knows a good trick to pass that level otherwise, I'll be glad to know it.

The Bottom Line
The game has not lost it's relation to it's predecessor, be sure of that, it's almost identical to the initial Max Payne. What you saw, played and loved in the initial episode is here too. This is good and bad at the same time. Good because, all the good elements that made the first game an instant favourite are here and more nicely done, and bad, because it's exactly a re-vamped version of the first game without the slightest hint of trying new tricks and being innovative, unless you think that playing Mona's part can be regarded as innovation. Perhaps the Vinnie Gognitti scenes are the true shine of the game. It's a shame though that elements like that are scarce in The fall of Max Payne.

I loved the original! Once I've finished the first Max Payne, I have re-installed and finished again the whole game 4 more times, even when newer and better releases were around! Once I've played the Fall of Max Payne, I suddenly knew why Max Payne fell! I just got bored of it somehow to be honest, and finishing it was a task which required a bit of a nerve. I only did it because I was curious to see how the story ends. And if you ask me, I still do prefer the original and that is what I will re-install in the future when the good ol' Max Payne nostalgia hits me.

I really dunno If I should recommend this one one or not. Take it for the good graphics, or take it if you're a true Hardcore Max Payne fan. Otherwise It's a good shooter that only gets a bit too repetitive (like Halo), if you don't mind that, give it a try. Again if you missed (how could you??!!) the first Max Payne, this is a good excuse to get to know him. His real juice (err... don't get me wrong here! lol!) though is in the first game.

Windows · by SifouNaS (1309) · 2004

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.

Windows · by Sam Hardy (80) · 2004

Stumbling sort of Sequel

The Good
The new weapons in the game, such as the Russian firearms, add to the previously intriguing arsenal of the first game (except for the lack of M79). The ability to pistol whip or use grenades with your current weapon means there's no longer any need for weapon switching, especially in the middle of a firefight.

The newest feature, by playing as Mona Sax, is a definite plus, being able to wield unique guns and access parts of the chapter that Max doesn't. There are also NPCs who support you and Vinnie Gognitti you need to protect. Kind of makes me wonder what it would be like to play as Alex Balder.

The Bad
There is way too much re-usage of the same levels, including Ragnarock and the Address Unknown theme park. The other levels are just bland buildings instead of the rooftops, slums, hotels and factories of the first game. Then of course there are the little things missing, like laser traps, rats and breakable objects. This lack of variety also makes the game feel short. Even the unlockable minigames can't really compensate for the smaller chapter count. Using Mona Sax more often in the game might have improved the game overall. Much of the game mechanics are the same, except that bullet-time feels a little faster than it should, making it almost useless. Finally, the game also doesn't have much in the way of atmospheric music.

The Bottom Line
This sequel didn't quite capture the experience and take the best from the first game. This sequel was a bit of a let-down. This game could most likely be finished faster than the prequel and then you'll be craving for more. Not sure what Rockstar was going for, but it should be emphasised that Max Payne should not be given a Grand Theft Auto treatment. Worth the occasional play, but not worth the money to buy.

Windows · by Kayburt (29377) · 2020

Good game, but where's the game-pad support?

The Good
Overall, I loved the game. It was intense all the way to the end. The story and graphics were excellent.

The Bad
The only thing that stunk about this game was that there was no game-pad support. How can you play such a great game with no game-pad? Playing with the mouse and the keyboard was very tedious and annoying. I'm very disappointed in Rockstar. All the great games they made and this one came up short because of no game-pad support. Rockstar should make a driver for game-pad support and have it available for download. I'm pretty sure when people found out that there was no game-pad support, they left the game alone. Who wants to play Max Payne with a keyboard and mouse? I don't think no one would. If they create the drivers, people wouldn't hesitate to pick up the game from the store. This would make the game more user friendly to the hardcore fanatic.

The Bottom Line
I would describe this game as a masterpiece in its own way. This game would have been an instant classic, but due to the fact that there is no game-pad support, it caused the game to come up short. Also, the game is very short. 10 hours of play? Damn, thats torture!!!! They could have made the game just a little longer.

Windows · by Oscar Molina (1) · 2004

The fall of Max Payne, indeed.

The Good
The first thing they do is ridicule the first game, as if to say that the game is real serious now, honest, we're going to keep the humor tightly packed into these TV sets. Which is true, unfortunately. The "constipated grin stuck to my face," as the TV calls it, is gone from Max; he's undergone plastic surgery to resemble Harrison Ford. As if anything was ever improved by involving Harrison Ford with it.

Payne 2 wants to be a "film noir love story," yet not enough attention is given to developing the story, in or out of the action. At least the unashamedly two-dimensional story of the first game did the job; here, the feeling that the shooting is just more of the same is amplified by the bumbling attempt to craft a real story like wot they have in the movies, man.

More things are now told with longer in-game cutscenes, which lack the attitude and style of the comic book panels; relegated to playing second violin, the graphic novel stumbles and feels more bolted-on than a feature of the game.

The Trainspotting-style establishing characters with a freeze-frame, zoom and name tag doesn't work either, probably because most of the time they introduce a character who will then promptly get shot before a minute has passed, or say hello goodbye. Or first the one and then the other. Though not the other and then the first- um, you get the picture.

The Bad
The fatal flaw is the modification to bullet time: Now it only gives you a slight slowdown, not enough to be useful for much. Killing a lot of people quickly will make the hourglass turn yellow and give you the slow-motion you're used to, as well as faster reloading, but this is fun only when you get to take on a large crowd of thugs with a sawed-off shotgun; it makes everything else dreary.

Diving through a door with Ingrams used to be great, but now it'll get you shot three times out of four, as Max doesn't automatically stand up; you have to release the fire button for a second. I mean, what's this, I have to release the trigger and think for a second in a shoot'em-up, now? Where's the fun in that?

Adding insult to injury, the manual talks about how bullet-time 2.0 urges you to press forward, but the level design doesn't really take it into consideration, rarely giving you more than three enemies at a time and a lot of empty space between groups. Meaning you find yourself running around with an hourglass all yellow and no one to kill far too often. Maybe it could have worked if more slowdown was awarded for shooting someone at close range, or something: As it is, it's a feature that obviously wasn't given enough consideration or playtesting, giving the game a rushed feel. Damn this technology that goes out of fashion after half a year.

The rarity of really slow motion also means you seldom get to see the bullets flying; gone is the fun of diving forward and seeing the shotgun pellets graze Max's head. It's most noticeable when you're looking through the scope of the MP5, and there it looks plain ridiculous, as the back of a bullet is the graphically least interesting part of it.

Max himself is far less interesting in his version 2.0; while you could hardly argue that he at any time had a full set of dimensions, here he seems reduced from a cardboard cut-out to a non-person. You get to see his home and the police station he works at, but he doesn't really seem to be there, somehow.

The more interesting person in the game is his femme fatale Mona Sax, who sleeps in a heap of ammunition round the back of a derelict fun fair. Now that's my kinda girl. You get to play her a couple of times, yet this seems intrusive and less fun, even though she has Max's full set of moves and the same damage resistance. And you get to do a lot of sharpshooting with her, which is usually my favorite thing in these games.

Perhaps it's that she's supposed to be a professional assassin, and when you fail to snipe people effectively several times before you get the hang of it, it compromises her believability. Or maybe I just have trouble perceiving a woman's voice as coming from inside my head - it's not for nothing that voiceovers tend to be so deep as if to emanate from inside your skull.

There are on the whole fewer gritty street environments; especially the half-constructed office building is just too samey. Maybe it could have worked if fighting left more blood stains and such, making it graphically interesting, but "ragdoll" is only too descriptive of the game's handling of bodies. In the first game, the bloodlessness and stereotyped way thugs went flying away from an explosion - it felt like a homage to Hong Kong action, something that Payne 2's ragdoll system takes away with its pretensions of realism.

The Bottom Line
I suppose it does the job, barely, of satisfying Max Payne cravings. Just don't expect the full flavor.

Windows · by Ola Sverre Bauge (237) · 2004

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Cavalary, Big John WV, picasso, SiberiumSkalker, jaXen, Jeanne, vicrabb, Wizo, Jacob Gens, Parf, vedder, Marko Poutiainen, Xoleras, COBRA-COBRETTI, CalaisianMindthief, nyccrg, Lukasz Bur, Patrick Bregger, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Tim Janssen, Yearman, Scaryfun, Cantillon, piltdown_man, Alaedrain, Klaster_1, 64er.