Friday 26 November 2004 :: by Thierry Gagnon

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

A third-person shooter set in a Film Noir setting, this excellent sequel has all of the ingredients that made the first Max Payne adventure such a wonderful thrill: colourful characters, moody atmosphere, a great storyline, kick-ass cinematographic gameplay, matrix-like “Bullet Time” slow-motion, interaction with the environment and, of course, lots of guns!

Attitude

Max Payne 2 : The Fall of Max Payne is a game with lots of attitude. It boasts a great storyline, attention to details and a character’s with a strong personality. I like to think of the Max Payne games as a mix of the best elements of Half Life and Duke Nukem 3D.

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Incredibly dynamic fight scenes.

This game feels like film noir that at once takes itself way too seriously while keeping a sense of humour through silly details or situations. The setting is very gritty and the decors are beautifully gritty and detailed. They are probably the best I have seen so far in an action game in terms of mood and color.

A complex environment

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Cinematic gameplay

The level of interaction with the environment is also fantastic. The greatest fun I had in Duke Nukem, for instance, was breaking glass doors, blowing-up walls and using the washroom facilities. Although this kind of interactivity has become more common over the years, it is surprising how many game are still not allowing even the simplest acts of property destruction (such as the Quake series). In Max Payne 2, we can open, kick, push and shoot many objects or background elements in the most satisfying way. We can push over piles of boxes, tables and chairs and watch them tumble down stairs. I enjoyed kicking empty cans around, pushing barrels down stairs and shoot them to make them explode. I also enjoyed pushing cubicle partition down on top of one another like dominoes. This kind of silly fun brings a lot of depth to the virtual reality we experience in the game.

Like in the first Max Payne game, we encounter TV sets where we can watch the news, a hilarious soap opera called “Lords and Ladies”, silly cartoons, a variety of advertisements for different products as well as a shows that lampoon the paranoid or vigilante aspects of the game. In fact, each chapter of the game features its very own set of episodes from the different TV shows featured in the game’s background. Although the visuals for these shows can be crude, you can easily a lot of time watching them in between gunfights. In fact, the shows playing on these TV sets will often comment in a symbolic and subtle way on the events unfolding in the game.

A multi-layered game

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Play the part of the mysterious Mona, Max’s love interest.

The game can get silly, either in the tongue-in-cheek use of film noir expressions or simply in wacky stuff such as a puking drunkard in a prison cell or a mobster stuck in a cartoon character suit with squeaky shoes and a bomb lodged in the costume’s big rubber head. It can also be very dramatic and cinematic, particularly in the eerie nightmare levels. Yes, as in the first game, we get to play through several dream sequences where no actual shooting takes place and where we explore the psyche of the character.

A great buy

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The first Max Payne is still quite enjoyable

It’s been a while now that Max Payne 2 has come out and that means that it’s price is now much more affordable than when it first came out. I’ve seen it sold for around 20$ bucks (Canadian). For those of you who do not have the 100% DirectX 9.0 graphics card, I suggest you pick-up a copy of Max Payne 1. It’s probably dirt cheap by now and is still quite a hoot to play.