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Max Payne® 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Max Payne is an Xbox Original

Published April 24, 2009

At A Glance
  • Rockstar's Max Payne franchise, consisting of the hit titles Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, comes to Xbox Originals.

Max Payne has long been a haunted man, a rogue cop who fights through life in a dark void, his soul splintered by grief after his family was murdered by a parcel of psychotic junkies. His trigger finger is still quick and his wits are keen, but they are driven by a dark brand of justice, fueled by cold rage.

Pissed off and deadly is an effective combination.

Pissed off and deadly is an effective combination.

Payne has carved out his own iconic niche in gaming thanks to the brooding noir-inspired Max Payne and Max Payne® 2: The Fall of Max Payne. These much-loved third-person shoot-'em-ups need no longer live surrounded in nostalgia, for they are coming to Xbox Originals for all to enjoy.

Payne doesn't so much deliver a line as chew on it, oozing a world-weary gravitas with each delightful turn of phrase.

Bullet Time
It's not often a franchise coins a phrase that lives in the gamer's lexicon in perpetuity, but the "Bullet Time" of Max Payne did exactly that. The game essentially invented the art of slow-motion shooters with the mechanic, using the feature to inject almost balletic action sequences into a hardcore shooter.

Players could send Max diving from side to side, flying backward and forward over obstacles, squeezing off perfect shots to cut up waves of gun-happy enemies in a single graceful slow-mo arc. With Bullet Time, standard action encounters were transformed into the kind of beautifully choreographed gun battles you would expect to find in a John Woo movie.

Noir Stylings
If Bullet Time helped define the gameplay of Max Payne, its delightfully over-the-top, film-noir approach to storytelling defined its presentation. There is little light, color, or vibrancy to Max Payne's existence. His is a lonely, vengeful tale, and so the world he inhabits is a heavily dilapidated one.

The man needs a break.

The man needs a break.

The environments in which he does his violent trade are criminal-infested ratholes, covered in filth, and lit by gloomy bulbs offering only a ragged, dirty light. The Max Payne games delight in assuming the grittiest, most violent undertones possible and it serves Payne's tale of vengeance and ruthless justice wonderfully.

Even more than the environments and the crass, manic, trigger-happy enemies that inhabit them, Payne's own fatalistic monologue, which runs through the game courtesy of comic-book styled panels, peppers the experience with equal parts doom, gloom, and hilarity. Payne doesn't so much deliver a line as chew on it, oozing a world-weary gravitas with each delightful turn of phrase.

With lines like "But who was I to talk, a brooding underdog avenger alone against an empire of evil, out to right a grave injustice," you can't help but smile and cheer Payne on.

The Original Payne
The original Max Payne, available soon on Xbox Originals, follows our hero's quest to hand out vicious justice to those responsible for his family's death. It's not enough to deliver the junkies that snuffed out his family, Payne must head undercover as a newly minted, if grief-battered DEA agent, to bring bloody justice to the criminal empire that flooded the streets with the drugs that led to his family's deaths.

Payne's Sequel
Joining the first game on Xbox Originals is, of course, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. Here, Payne has returned to the NYPD as a detective, grimly leading a life still haunted by the events of the first game. Max is soon propelled back into confrontation with some of the major players from the original game, including one Mona Sax.

Women are trouble. Women with guns? Watch out Max.

Women are trouble. Women with guns? Watch out Max.

If the original game covered Max's lonely quest for vengeance, the second game flirts with our hero's redemption, as he and Mona form a bond sparked by love amid a world still battered by violence. You'll even get to step into the shoes of our femme fatale, playing through entire levels as the mysteriously motivated Ms. Sax.

Prelude to the Third
While the appearance of Max Payne and Max Payne 2 on Xbox Originals is cause for celebration on their own, they also serve as a prelude to the release of Max Payne 3 on Xbox 360® later this year.

Max Payne 3, the first current-gen game in the series, finds our hero retired from the NYPD, long removed from the shattering events of the first two games, and living quietly in an as-yet-unnamed city. Bad luck, alas, continues to follow Payne, and betrayal at the hands of someone close to him plunges Max once more into a world teeming with corruption and violence.

Whether you've longed to relive the Bullet Time glory of the original games, want to prep yourself for the arrival of Max Payne 3 or simply desire an introduction to the series, the arrival of Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne on Xbox Originals is a welcome, gritty, and violent gift for any who call themselves shooter fans.

Article by Ryan Treit

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