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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.


Max Payne Windows A drug deal goes bad... thanks to you.
Max Payne Windows Matrix-style lobby shootout
Max Payne Windows Exclamation point always mean there is something you should see or check about.
Max Payne Windows Gordon Freeman could take out an Apache with one hand tied behind his back. To be fair though, Payne doesn't have an HEV suit

Promo Images

Max Payne Screenshot
Max Payne Screenshot
Max Payne Screenshot
Max Payne Screenshot


Alternate Titles

  • "英雄本色" -- Simplified Chinese spelling
  • "Yingxiong Bense" -- Simplified Chinese title
  • "Max Payne Mobile" -- Android / iPhone / iPad title
  • "Max Heat" -- Working title
  • "Dark Justice" -- Working title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Style over substance Unicorn Lynx (181442) 3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars3.57 Stars
[v1.2] Maximize the Payne! Indra was here (20853) 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
Max Payne is one of the greatest action titles of our time. Kaddy B. (796) 4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars
Ages Well and Still Fun! Scott Monster (1009) 4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars
Payne To The Max! Classic Nigel (150) 4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars
Revolutionary John Woo meets the Matrix Film Noir shooter vulture (17) 4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars
A fun but short game with too much of the same in it. Zovni (10627) 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Great game? Yes. Innovate? Yes. Blockbuster? No. JPaterson (9541) 4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars4.86 Stars
One of the greatest disappointments I've ever experienced. Tomer Gabel (4634) 2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars
Max Payne Is More Fun Than Television MasterMegid (902) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

Critic Reviews

Gamer's Pulse Jul 31, 2001 98 out of 100 98
Game Vortex 2001 95 out of 100 95
Play.tm Nov 22, 2001 94 out of 100 94
Gameplay (Benelux) Aug 31, 2001 92 out of 100 92
Atomic Gamer Jul 30, 2001 91 out of 100 91
GameSpy Aug, 2001 90 out of 100 90
Game Over Online Jul 29, 2001 90 out of 100 90
GameSpot (Belgium/Netherlands) Jul 27, 2001 88 out of 100 88
Christ Centered Gamer / Christ Centered Game Reviews Jun 01, 2005 77 out of 100 77
Game Critics Feb 13, 2002 7.5 out of 10 75


Topic # Posts Last Post
XP SP2 4 Indra was here (20853)
Jun 04, 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: http://www.3drealms.com/max/newyork.html

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 gonegold.com)


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

Related Web 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 Max Payne, with commentary being provided by Art Director Saku Lehtinen (July, 2002).)
  • Max Payne (3D Realms official Max Payne website)
  • Max Payne (The 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 Max Payne 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)
Derrick 'Knight' Steele (2415) added Max Payne (Windows) on Jul 16, 2001
Other platforms contributed by Brian Hirt (10020), Charly2.0 (259208), karttu (5131), Sciere (789813), Kabushi (257689) and Derrick 'Knight' Steele (2415)
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