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February 8, 2002
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 Overall Score: *94*ESRB Rating: Mature (M)

Max Payne 

by GodGames  Reviewed by: Brian D. Crecente  


ScreenshotOverview

One minute a happy cop with a wife and baby, the next a hard-core killer bent on a path of destruction and revenge, out to wipe out the mafia and eradicate the drug that erased his life.

Max Payne thrusts you into the middle of a John Woo movie in a game as fun to play as it is to watch. Welcome to the future of gaming where highly stylized cinematic scenes aren’t just filler, they’re the game.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Max Payne is at its heart a third-person shooter, but such a generic term does little to describe this incredible game. It’s like controlling a movie or playing a graphic novel.

Game control is smooth and intuitive, using the keyboard for movement and the mouse for controlling direction, aiming and firing. One of the most innovative parts of the game is the use of bullet time -- default sets this as the right mouse button. Click the button and time slows down, allowing you to aim in real time, while watching the action move at a Matrix-like crawl.

As you enter bullet time, sounds slow to a dull roar, a staccato heartbeat fills the air and the muzzle flash of firing weapons seem to gently bloom from gun barrels. Although you can’t move any faster, bullet time gives you plenty of time to react, allowing you to even dodge the bullets that lazily cut through the air at you. If you hit the left mouse button while side stepping, Payne does a magnificent slow-mo dodge worthy of any Woo movie. Your bullet time, measured by a small hourglass, is relatively limited but you get more each time you take down an enemy.

As in most shooters, the main object of the game is to blow people away, but Payne does it in such an artistic manner, with generous use of replays, varying camera angles and slow-motion, that the game seems to take on a life of its own.

Max Payne has a nice selection of real weapons at his disposal, starting with a Beretta and picking up shotguns, grenades even sniper rifles on the way. Health is recovered through the use of painkillers. Because of the highly realistic health loss in the game, a single well-placed shot or explosion can kill Payne. This isn’t a run-and-gun game, you’ll have to use tactics, have a working knowledge of the pros and cons of each weapon and watch your step to survive this game.

Alas, there are no multiplayer options in this game. Please, please, please someone tell me they will be coming out with a multiplayer expansion.

ScreenshotGraphics

I only really need one word to describe the graphics, WOW! Seemingly photorealistic facial features on the characters combined with an almost completely interactive background quickly sucks you into this world of gritty, underground New York.

In Max Payne you can shoot, jiggle, and play just about everything in the game. I turned on TVs, then shot ‘em; flushed toilets, then shot ‘em; even opened and closed doors, then shot ‘em. After you clear a room of thugs, take a second to survey the damage -- most rooms are littered with bodies, blood, empty clips, guns, burn marks, even bullet holes.

Occasionally the game goes into slow motion on it’s own, showing your enemies blown of their feet, jaws slack, eyes closed, bullets flying from holes torn in the back of their jackets. Or if you land a nice sniper shot you might get a glimpse at the spectacular bullet cam replay.

Granted not all things are perfect in the world of Max Payne, facial animation is lacking and there is, at times, a pretty major problem with clipping that can get a bit annoying. The game’s cut-scenes, instead of leaning on the all too common vignettes that have become a staple of just about all computer games, rely mostly on a graphic novel look. With panes of hard-lined art and speech balloons, topped with well-acted voice-overs. And we’re not just talking well-drawn cut-scenes, the scenes tell a story and it’s a story you’ll want to hear, not something you’ll be tapping your space bar to make go away.

Audio

From the whine of bullets whizzing by your ear to the ominous sound of a gun chambering a new round, Max Payne is as much about fantastic sound as it is ultra-realistic graphics.

System Requirements

Minimum: 450 MHz Intel Pentium II processor, 96 MB RAM, 16 MB Direct 3D graphics card, and 600 MB hard drive space.

ScreenshotBottom Line

At times Max Payne is more movie than game, with stunning camera angles, jarring replays and an involved plot that not only moves the storyline along, it sets the tone for a hardcore action experience. If it weren’t for the minimal graphic bugs and occasional chunky backgrounds, this game would hit a near perfect score. Payne is one of the most robust, innovative and intense shooters to hit the market since the original Tomb Raider. Look out Lara, I see a Payne coming to theaters near you.

Review Posted On 8 August 2001.

 
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