Max Payne

aka: Dark Justice, Max Heat, Max Payne Mobile, Yingxiong Bense
Windows Specs [ all ]
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Description official descriptions

Max Payne was a police officer of the New York City police. On one terrible day, his wife and newborn daughter were killed by three junkies, who broke into his apartment after having ingested a new designer drug known as Valkyr. After the tragedy, Max quit the police force and joined the Drug Enforcement Administration. Three years later, during a raid on a mafia compound that was reportedly trafficking Valkyr, his best friend and fellow DEA agent Alex is killed, and he becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Now Max is all alone in the cold, snowy night of New York. The mob is out to get him. The police are out to get him. The only way out is with guns blazing, because he has nothing to lose.

Max Payne is a third person shooter stylistically influenced by film noir, "hardboiled" detective stories, and Hong-Kong action cinema. Max can perform rolls and leaps to try and dodge enemy fire. The weapons at his disposal range from baseball bats to Ingram sub-machine guns, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and others. A unique feature of the game is the usage of the so-called Bullet Time - a time-slowing ability that was popularized by the first Matrix movie. Activating the Bullet Time slows down everything that happens around Max (including his own movements), allowing for slow, but precise performance of moves to take care of his enemies. A special meter indicates how much time the effect will last, and how long Max needs to wait until it can be activated again.

Cutscenes in the game are presented as comic book-style graphical panels accompanied by voice-overs.


  • 英雄本色 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

253 People (181 developers, 72 thanks) · View all



Average score: 88% (based on 74 ratings)


Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 395 ratings with 30 reviews)

Max Payne is one of the greatest action titles of our time.

The Good
Max Payne was an innovative and unique action title for its time. Sadly, its gameplay draws such as bullet time have been worn and torn so bad that if you describe Max Payne to a modern gamer who missed it first time around they'll simply go 'meh, its been done.' Even I for awhile was so worn out from games with bullet time and "John Woo style" gameplay mechanics that I dismissed Max Payne as dated. But a recent playthrough proved to me that this game is just as good as it ever has been.

For the year 2001, Max Payne was an absolutely eye popping game. These were the early days of full 3D acceleration, yet MP actually looked better than almost every other game on the market, better than Unreal, better than Quake 3, and so on. The detail and animations were exquisite, and high poly character models and environments were used to great effect. Its still satisfying to tear a room apart with bullets and as the dust settles make out piles of bodies lying in blood and brass bullet casings.

Developers love to use the term "Cinematic gameplay." This term has been around ever since the early days of CD when a fad of "interactive movies" came about. These interactive movies had little gameplay value and were often very poor. One of the only truly good interactive movies was the revolutionary laserdisc title, Dragon's Lair and it still had little 'play' value but it was saved by an entertaining story and visuals. But when the developers at Remedy called Max Payne a cinematic experience, they weren't bullshitting around this time. This is as close as you will get to being in an action movie you can actually interact with. Somewhere between "Sin City" and... well, John Woo movies the game is a third person shooter that allows you to use various weapons as well as the now cliche Bullet Time. But even after the glut of bullet time games, Max Payne is still one of the few games that does it right. It can really save your hide, and it looks cool seeing all the bullets, droplets of blood, pieces of plaster, all in slow motion and the "Shoot dodge" moves, which allows you to do slides, jumps, etc. to dodge while shooting in bullet time is still cool and the tight controls make it intuitive and fun. A sort of trademark of 3D realms, you can interact with most objects in the game whether they are important are not, and it is encouraged as you never know when you will find that extra bullet or the much needed health pack (Or in this game, pain pills. Why do so many games interpret pain medication as health? I suffer from arthritis and have pain pills, and sure it helps the pain but it doesn't heal me) and of course there are various jokes or evidence pieces that will help the story come together.

Speaking of the story, Max Payne tells a good one. It's done in a kitschy Noir style, and while this method of story telling as well as the voice acting can be somewhat silly at times, once you get used to it there's a great story that unfolds gracefully and has many satisfying twists and turns.

Guns sound realistic and are fun to shoot.

The AI isn't a push over. Although they are scripted, they can fight back well and are pretty harsh and brutal at times. Bullet time can sometimes be the only way that you can trump a gaggle of baddies, Remedy definitely realized that even a cop isn't going to be superman even if Bullet Time is a somewhat strange power when taken in or out of context.

The MaxEd tool available for the game is surprisingly easy to use and both my wife and I have made some homebrewed levels and campaigns, and it doesn't require a ton of hard coding knowledge to make a well detailed level.

After beating the game, various new modes are unlocked and they are more than just tougher difficulty levels. They change the game in various ways, and there's even a mode built for speed runners called New York Minute. If you're into speed running, try New York Minute, just prepare for the game to hold your balls in a vice grip because its pretty damn tough. You have to beat every level in only a minute per each one. Its hard as hell, but very rewarding when you can successfully beat a level. These modes give the game plenty of replay value.

The Bad
The game is relatively short. While it may seem lengthy by today's ridiculously short standards, the game will only take you about 11 hours to beat.

The game can be frustratingly hard at times. The box claims to have adaptive difficulty adjustments to make the game easier or harder based on how you are doing, but I have noticed no such thing. Quick save is your best friend here.

As good as the graphics are for the time, they are lacking in one area: Facial animation. It's strange that they wouldn't have it, the game uses skeletal animation, you can tell by various animations and the way fingers realistically move and animate. Yet the characters faces are painted on, and its kinda creepy when they talk and their faces don't move. Remedy could've easily just made .gif files and changed the faces in cinematics if they didn't want to go through the trouble of using their skeletal animation system for full facial animation, and they DO use this effect as Max's face contorts in pain upon death as do the bad guys. Its disappointing, and as I said, kinda creepy how the faces never move and it reminds me of the way people talked on the Nintendo 64.

The voice acting and dialogue can seem hammy and somewhat stupid. "Pain killers: Take away the pain, leave the hurt." What the hell does that mean? Sometimes it uses its "Noir" style a little too much and the descriptions are often silly and sometimes when you'd expect a character to emote realistically, just another cheesy Darth Vader "NOOOO" voice happens. You get used to it eventually, but its still somewhat annoying.

The Bottom Line
Max Payne is still an awesome shoot 'em up and a thrilling third person shooter. It may seem short, but it will keep you in the game at all times and is fun throughout. Its also one of the few games with bullet time that actually still makes it feel fun and unique, but that's most likely because it was the first game to use it. It looks cool and plays cool, and its got a good story despite some silly acting. If you haven't checked this one out yet, definitely give it a look.

Windows · by Kaddy B. (777) · 2009

Revolutionary John Woo meets the Matrix Film Noir shooter

The Good
The atmosphere is great - the storytelling takes place not in ingame-sequences or videos, but in comic strips with voiceover. Both the comics and the voice acting is very well done and has funny elements. The story itself is quite entertaining and realistic.

The revolutionary bullet-time makes you think you're in some kind of John Woo film and there is a scene which clearly lends from The Matrix.

You might also enjoy to play a different type of character for a change. Max Payne isn't a hero fighting for the good, he is just a man out for revenge, a one man army ripping through hordes of enemies. So even he is a policeman, he will not attempt to deal out arrest warrants - the enemies are going down.

Weapons are well balanced and each has its strength. Depending on how far away the enemy is, how well he is covered, how many enemies are there and especially whether you use bullet time, every weapon is useful right to the end of the game.

The Bad
With view being locked in third person, it happens sometimes, especially when you are ducked, that the player is obstructing the view, making it hard to aim at the enemy.

There's some kind of delay in the grenade throwing which makes it easy to blow yourself up. Also grenades are so powerful that if you aren't prepared for the enemy to throw one and get into cover quickly, you will usually get hurt pretty badly.

The biggest disadvantage for me was that the higher difficulty levels aren't open right away. You have to play through the game on the easiest level to unlock the harder ones.

The Bottom Line
A refreshingly different shooter with a sinister, all-consuming story. Like no other shooter, this game plays itself like an action-film and is definitely worth being played through once.

Windows · by vulture (15) · 2008

One of the greatest disappointments I've ever experienced.

The Good
I admit, I had spectacularly high hopes for this game. There were several reasons: the first is Remedy's first product, the absolutely superb Death Rally; the second is the use of the seemingly revolutionary MAXFX engine in demonstrations such as 3DMark 2000, 3DMark 2001 and XL-R8R from MadOnion. My expectations got only higher when I saw the absolutely fascinating Max Payne E3 demo from 1999; back then I couldn't have imagined anything more spectacular. A game from a company founded on demoscene roots, with music by one of my favorite musicians, Teque? What could be better?

Shift forward a bit: early 2001. Discussing matters with Teque over e-mail revealed that he's been removed from the Max Payne development team. Unfortunately he wouldn't divulge any further information, but something inside me cracked when I realized I wouldn't hear his spectacular music in a game I've been waiting for for so long. Then 3DMark 2001 came out, music also not written by Teque. Still the MaxFX engine, astounding visuals, but the design of the entire demo was lacking. I had a bad feeling about this: these events didn't bode well.

Shift to mid-2001, Max Payne finally comes out. The game I've been waiting for for about three years, something new and innovative. When I finally got around to playing the game, I had mixed feelings about what's coming. I finished it an hour ago, and once again my instincts haven't failed me: I was terribly disappointed. Why? Well lets discuss the good things first.

  • Solid game engine. Not as revolutionary as I expected, not the absolutely astounding visuals I've been promised, but absolutely solid never-the-less. It is also reasonably fast. Ah, and the bullets and fire look absolutely gorgeous.
  • Max Payne features a decent plot. Nothing as complex or involving as Deus Ex or even Half Life for that matter, but enough to keep me interested as I played along. However, the plot has absolutely no bearing on the advancement of the game, which is indeed unfortunate.
  • The absolutely spectacular "bullet-time" effect, as far as I know the first ever to be implemented in a computer game. It really is quite astounding at first, seeing everything in slow motion but retaining decent control over your character. It also makes for some beautiful fight scenes, where for example you jump through a door, ducking a shot fired by a guard behind it, only to spray him with the Colt Commando on your way to the ground. However, the novelty wears thin after a while.
  • Plenty of cute in-jokes (upcoming spoiler), for example the Ingram-near-bathroom-with-bad-guy-coming-out-Pulp-Fiction-style scene, or the Buffy bit.

The Bad
On the contrary, Max Payne has many shortcomings.

  • While the engine is solid, it just doesn't bring anything new to the table. Frankly, I think Serious Sam was more revolutionary, bringing Quake 3-level graphics to the table with detail textures, excellent framerates and no hype.
  • Absolutely linear gameplay. I don't think I've ever played a game this linear before. Unlike most shooters, even the earliest ones where you at least got the chance to explore areas, enter rooms etc., in Max Payne you will frequently find yourself in a tight corridor with five doors, only one of which opens and is the way to the next section of the game. Not only is there only one way past any given obstacle, but there is only one way to proceed in the game! The whole game is built like one giant action sequence. I don't know about you, but for me it means only one thing: fast boredom and claustrophobia.
  • Level design is nothing to be proud of. The scenes are generally grey, dimly lit and spectacularly nondynamic, unlike older games like Alice, Serious Sam or Deus Ex. Nothing changes in the scenery; there are very few things to interact with; environment mapping (used to a great extent in Quake 3 to improve visual dynamic) is scarce at best. Most importantly, the levels are dull, uninspired and very "square" in design (reminiscent of much, much older games like Doom or Blood), despite the ability to use much higher polygon count to improve visual smoothness.
  • The cutscenes that use the game engine are of poor quality, and would befit a game from the era of Half Life (and even that manages better). The worst thing is, you can't skip them (much like Half Life)!
  • Poor, uninspired at best background music. I can't shake the feeling that the music is more an afterthought than intended and fully integrated into the game development (as in Deus Ex, and I believe it shows). I just don't understand what happened to what was supposed to be one of the best game soundtracks ever written.
  • There are several key sections of the game that even a beginner designer, or at least someone properly versed in computer games, would know not to include in the game. Specifically: the first dream sequence (where you have to go through two different sequences of a maze, one of which also incorporates a minor jumping puzzle). Completely pointless, unbelievably frustrating and doesn't improve the game in any way what-so-ever. The other one is the restaurant where you're supposed to meat the Italian guy, and which bursts into flames. Set aside the frustration and the nusance of having to practice your F5/F9 keys (quicksave/load) for a minute; any person in his right mind would immediately exit the restaurant through the main door (locked? no problem; what are you carrying a shotgun for?). Moreover, a touch of fire may give you a nasty burn, but certainly not kill you; a small fact that the designers seemed to have neglected. In short, there are several frustrating scenes in the game, and the worst thing is, you don't have any choice but to go through them! So much for Deus Ex ushering a new era in computer gaming...
  • The problem with the aforementioned beautiful Bullet Time effect is that the game relies on it way too heavily. The novelty will wear off after half an hour, along with the excitement you get from the game. The combats are monotonous, with dumb enemies that never actually change (just pack more and more powerful weapons), and the monotony of the gameplay really gets to you after a while.
  • I couldn't help but be offended by the way Max looks. Quite frankly, he looked far better in the E3 demo (and in the "lobby shooting spree" scene of 3DMark 2001). He has a kind of permanent "sneer" on his face that annoys me every time I see it. I can't help but think of Max as a kind of modern age Leisure Suit Larry. 'nuff said.

The Bottom Line
Overall, a great disappointment and not worth your money.

Windows · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 2001

[ View all 30 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
XP SP2 Indra was here (20642) Jun 4th, 2008


1001 Video Games

The PC version of Max Payne appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


In England, the game was advertised on hydrants covered with actual yellow police lines with the game's name and slogan on it ("Max Payne - A Man With Nothing to Lose" etc...), just like the game box's cover art.

Bullet time

The origins of bullet time, made famous in the movie The Matrix and as a playable effect in Max Payne, are attributed to Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904), who used still cameras placed along a racetrack to take pictures of a galloping horse.

Cancelled Dreamcast version

Max Payne was initially in development for the Dreamcast up to the point that Remedy demoed the game at E3 in 1998. Despite some more refined character models, the game looks and plays almost identically to the PS2 and Xbox versions of the game.


  • Early on the V drug was not only a mind-warping drug, but also body-warping. It fact it made its users grow into hulking giants with glowing green eyes. In fact, early script drafts deal with super soldiers. There were even work in progress screenshots which shows Max fighting these super soldiers. All this was scrapped as it looked silly and was too similar to Sin.
  • In order to create the game, the developers from Remedy traveled from Finland to New York to photograph the buildings and streets. You can read about their adventure at the 3D Realms website:

German index

This game was put on the German index on 29.09.2001. A short time afterwards, according to a Take 2 salesman, the planned to publish a "toned down" version of Max Payne. It would be cut so it could get a "12+" rating and they wanted to do a German translation including voiceovers. This would allow them to sell it again since it isn't the same as the banned game and even more, it's localized so more people could enjoy it.

The new box art had a yellow "police line" over or under the MAX PAYNE title on the box which stated it was a toned down version. However, this version got canned.

The ban on the game was eventually lifted.


Despite all the "realism" put into the game... The "code numbers" given by NYPD officers are completely wrong, according to an ex-NYPD officer (Rich Laporte of


The music for the game was made by Kärtsy Hatakka, who is also the singer and bass player for a band called Waltari.


  • The game features some humourous moments. In one of the earlier levels, there is a room off one of the ledges outside a building. Inside is a guy lying on the ground with a stake in his back, and the letters "BUFF" (with obvious reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer) scrawled in blood next to him. Max passes a comment along the lines off "I don't even want to know what happened here."
  • In another level, you need a password to get into a laundry room. After finding a low-life to help you out, stand off to the side while he tries to get you in. He's given a first name and asked to give the full name before they'll open the door. The name he has to give is "John Woo", director and king of slow-motion action sequences in movies, an obvious inspiration for the developers of Max Payne.
  • At one point in the game, Max comes across a television show speaking about the Aesir Corporation, and how they are becoming another monopoly like Microsoft. However, because Microsoft is a copyrighted name, the television gives a bit of static when Microsoft is spoken, and the graphic novel displays "*static*" instead of Microsoft.
  • The Dopefish (an enemy from Commander Keen 4, the Dopefish is usually put into games as an easter egg) appears in Max Payne.
  • In the room immediately after Alfred Woden's office, if you shoot a picture off the wall, you'll find a switch. Pressing it will open a secret passage to a room with a Star Trek parody.
  • At some point you will pass by a TV in which the images show a familiar red-curtained room and a flamingo, and the accompanying dialog is all in Twin Peaks style. The music has that hip TP jazzy sound. A man's voice talks about his "evil twin," which of course ties in with the dopplegangers of Twin Peaks. The flamingo's speaking style sounds much like the Little Man in Twin Peaks dream sequences. The flamingo may be a reference to Wild Palms, which included flamingos and is sometimes compared to Twin Peaks. Elsewhere, another TV shows a soap opera with events that closely parallel events in the game; this 'soap opera device' was used often on Twin Peaks. During the Twin Peaks parody portion, the flamingo’s speech is distorted and it is impossible to understand what it’s saying except its final line: “The Flesh of Fallen Angels”, a sort of recurrent motif along the game.
  • Of all the various pop culture references found throughout the game, there is one that probably escapes the notice of most players. In the tutorial level, take a look at the Tar Cafe signs. Their address is listed as "604 All Your Base Are", a reference to the poorly-translated intro of Zero Wing.
  • In the Ragnarock club there are references to the supernatural horror literature of H. P. Lovecraft - the so called Cthulhu Mythos. One of Jack Lupino's books is titled Necronomicon, and one of his personal "spells" mention the name "Cthulhu" as one of the dark gods that he invokes.
  • In Part I, Chapter Six, Max Payne enters a small flat. There is a gun lying on the counter, and a gangster can be heard whistling in the toilet. The toilet doors are locked tight, unless the player picks up the gun, which makes the adversary flush the toilet and come out. This is a reference to Quentin Tarantino's cult movie Pulp Fiction: (Pulp Fiction spoiler) This area closely resembles the scene of Vincent Vega's death, when Butch sneaks into his apartment and shoots Vic with his own gun which he left on the counter in the kitchen.
  • In the first level, Roscoe Street Station, Max overhears two thugs talking. After a moment of conversation or two, a phone rings. The ring tone is The Ecstasy of Gold from the film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, composed by Ennio Morricone.

References: Self

  • In the skyscraper mission, in one of the elevators, if you stay and listen, you will hear some guards talking about how it would be cool if you could see your moves in slow motion. The guard concludes by saying that he will name this effect Bullet-Time.
  • In one part of Max Payne, the graphic novel jokes about Max being a game (this happens in one of the nightmare sequences).
  • Another humorous moment... In Part 1, Chapter 2 "Live from the Crime Scene", you finally made your way into the bank vault, and the alarm is blaring. If you shoot the alarm (thus silencing it), Max will thank you.. The same happens at one point in the hotel: you must ride an elevator playing some cheesy elevator music. Shoot out the speaker and Max will thank you.
  • Max Payne features a lot of Remedy employees as characters in the game, including screenwriter Sam Lake as Max Payne himself. This led to a very weird E3 2001 showing of the game, since Sam Lake was at GOD Games´ Promised Lot along other members of Remedy with a demo. Everybody was a bit disoriented by seeing Max Payne on screen and his real-life counterpart talking about the title right next to it.
  • In Part 1, Chapter 6, when you're chasing Vinnie, there is a billboard for Captain Baseball-Bat Boy, the comics you see throughout the game.

Version differences

The PS2 version doesn't allow you to quick save during a level unlike the PC and Xbox versions.


  • Gamespy
    • 2001 - PC Action Game of the Year (Readers' Vote))
    • 2001 - Best Gimmick of the Year (for bullet time)
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2005 - #41 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list

Information also contributed by AkibaTechno, Archagon, DarkBubble, dasfatso, David Sky, Dreamweaver, Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze, Erik Niklas, festershinetop, Juan Pablo Bouquet, Juguryo, JPaterson, Karthik KANE, Kasey Chang, MasterMegid, PCGamer77, phlux, Samuel James Vince and Scott Monster

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Related Sites +

  • 3D Realms Site
    The official 3d Realms/ Apogee Website
  • A Rock-Solid Hero for a Rock-Solid OS
    An Apple Games article about the Macintosh version of <em>Max Payne</em>, with commentary being provided by Art Director Saku Lehtinen (July, 2002).
  • Max Payne
    The official Max Payne website
  • Max Payne
    3D Realms official Max Payne website
  • Max Payne Fan Site
    Tips, cheats, screenshots, modifications and links.
  • Official Webpage (Mac)
    The official product page for the Mac version of <em>Max Payne</em> on the publisher's website, which provides a trailer, character information, a profile of the game itself, and purchasing information, among other such particulars.
  • Payne Reactor
    A fan site dedicated to Max Payne - Mods, Levels, Total Conversions, Tutorials, Forums, Cheats, etc.
  • Sound fix for Max Payne and Vista.
    A clever person fixed a bug with Max Payne not playing music and dialogue in Vista. Vista doesn't support the sound file formats used for the playback.
  • Wikipedia: Max Payne
    Information about Max Payne at Wikipedia

Identifiers +


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Derrick 'Knight' Steele.

Xbox added by Brian Hirt. PlayStation 3 added by Charly2.0. Xbox 360 added by karttu. iPhone, PlayStation 4, iPad added by Sciere. Macintosh, Android added by Kabushi. Xbox Series, Xbox One added by Eufemiano Bullanga.

Additional contributors: Macintrash, Xantheous, Kasey Chang, Unicorn Lynx, Jony Shahar, Jim Fun, Frenkel, Sciere, Scott Monster, Zeppin, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, 64er.

Game added July 19th, 2001. Last modified June 24th, 2023.