Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Review

Publisher: RockStar Games

Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Category: Action

Release Dates

Intl - 10/24/2003

N Amer - 10/15/2003

Official Game Website

    Also available on:
  • PS2
  • XB

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Review

Perhaps the one major flaw with the original Max Payne was its lack of replayability.  Once you bullet timed your way through the non-stop violence and the noirish, brooding narration, that was pretty much it.  Mind you the first game was still a stylistic bag of dark cynicism that bordered on true greatness.  It was also a whole lot of fun to play.  Max Payne 2 has crossed the boundary of greatness into a realm of superb cinematic story telling that eludes the vast majority of big budget films.

A true Film Noir yarn is riddled with pessimistic undertones and a flawed protagonist who struggles through to a tragic ending.  Max Payne 2 The Fall Of Max Payne delivers a dramatic, single player only experience, full of heart-wrenching betrayal, dark recurring themes, and frantic, chest pounding play.  In fact the destruction, and devastating body count is staggering.  The story progresses through an artful graphic novel approach that appears between chapters and levels with excellent voiceovers.  Scripted events and the monotone narrative by Max himself keeps the story moving along within the game.  You can go back and view the cutscenes anytime you want after they are unlocked.

The graphics offer striking photo-realistic textures depicting dilapidated warehouses, dingy apartments, a rundown police station and an unsettling funhouse in Coney Island just to name several of my favorites.  The incredible attention to detail deserves high praise and really creates a gritty, lived in game universe dripping with somber specs of emotion.  As I approached the end of the game I was so connected with the characters that I started to feel sad that the experience would soon be over.  The story is so complex however that it must be played more than once to grasp all the subtle plot points and references to the original game.  There are other events that you might miss the first time through like scripted dialogue by your enemies, or some of the excellent television show excerpts that play in the background and actually progress along with the game.

The Havoc physics engine is put to use in Max Payne 2 and it adds a life like depth to the gaming world.  Especially during a slow-mo kill sequence when someone is shot and the momentum from the bullet sends the rag doll body hurtling over the edge into a pile of boxes or a rusty shelf that topples from the weight.  Standard Shooter controls work perfectly for Max 2.  Bullet time is an advantage Max uses to slow down time to give him a one up on the many different people trying to kill him.  By pressing the right mouse button there is a heart pounding thud as the game world fades in color and everything slows down.  Bullets whiz by leaving a Matrix style trail behind them and a rush of whooshing air streams out of the speakers placing you right in the moment.    

The gun fire is loud and varied depending upon what weapon is being used.  My favorite choice was running around with Dual 9 MM Pistols in Max’s hands, but there are many other weapons to choose from.  The Dragunov sniper rifle is imperative to several levels because the scope is vital for pinpoint accuracy.  The MP5 automatic also has a scope and is very satisfying.  This time around it is possible to have Max throw grenades while wielding a gun at the same time.  Many of the gun battles induce a sense of panic due to the excellent direction sensitive sound effects.   

The level design is excellent in Max 2 as well.  Of course there is plenty of shooting, but there are several other parts that don’t require shooting that the developers used to keep the pace interesting and full of variety.  The dream sequence returns, but this time these  levels are much more intriguing and full of plot revealing elements.  Unfortunately I can’t say much more without ruining the story, but I encourage everyone to go out of their way to play the game and not read any story spoilers.  Believe me it is well worth the time, money, energy and sleepless nights.

Something else I’d like to mention is the music.  While there isn’t an over abundance of it, the music excells and provides a real sense of mood enhancing emotion.  I’ve heard several gamers question the length of this game.  The first Max Payne wasn’t very long, and Max 2 might actually be a bit shorter.  The amount of quality, attention, depth and time that went into this game is very evident however.  Quality over quantity wins my vote every time and Max Payne 2 won’t dissappoint.  Max 2 is a definate contender for game of the year.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9
Riveting, involving and emotional.  Max 2 kept me up til the crack of dawn, because I just had to find out what would happen to him next.  The enemy AI is surprisingly intelligent and there are several instances where Max meets a few allies who fight alongside him. 

Graphics: 10
An insane amount of detail went into all of the environments.  There are times when you will just stop to admire the visuals of this very realistic and crime-filled game world.

Sound: 9.5
Voiceovers were executed perfectly and some of the music was so good I thought I was in a movie.  The gunfire, NPC chatter and thumping bullet time sounds will put you right into Max’s shoes.

Difficulty: Easy
The game is very forgiving the first time around.  It adjusts the difficulty setting on the fly.  If the player is having trouble the AI is dummied up a bit, and more health in the form of painkillers become available.  After the first go round other modes of difficulty open up.  Each mode has a particular penalty for instance, no difficulty adjustment, fewer painkillers or a limited amount of saves available.

Concept: 9
Max 2 manages to mix great gameplay with a compelling story that is superior in many ways to the original.  A true Film Noir with believable characters and an overall cinematic quality that left me begging for more.  

Overall: 9.6
Max Payne 2 The Fall Of Max Payne is a gaming experience that truly makes this hobby so rewarding.  It’s easy to recommend this game, because it is so good.  I think I’m ready for Max Payne 3.  In fact I can’t wait.    

GameZone Review Detail


GZ Rating


Max Payne 2 is a cinematic, action packed swarm of near perfection with a tragically twisting plot worthy of the big screen.

Reviewer: Rgerbino

Review Date: 10/24/2003

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