"More of the same, which isn't a bad thing"

Max Payne returns once again to face his demons and the corrupt underworld of New York City in Max Payne 2. The game doesn't introduce anything particularly new or exciting, it just refines the features introduce in the first game.

STORY:
Max, having been acquitted of his crimes in the first game, has rejoined the NYPD as a homicide detective. Working on his biggest case, he runs into his old flame and the femme fatale from the last game, Mona Sax. Chasing after her and the case, he soon encounters more secrets about his past. The story is a lot deeper and much darker than the first. There's more melodrama and less room for tongue-in-cheek humor. Nevertheless, the game tells a brilliant and engaging story with a lot of twists.

Score: 9/10

GRAPHICS:
The graphics are much improved compared to the first game. Character models are much better animated, and people's mouths will move while they talk, which was disappointingly absent from the first game when it had already become a standard feature. Environments are much more detailed, and once again you can interact with just about every object onscreen. Max Payne 2 also features Havok physics, so there are more impressive ragdolls as well as a few physics related puzzles. The level design has much more variety than the first game, and it is definitely better in comparison.

Score: 9/10

SOUND:
Max Payne 2 certainly doesn't fail in the audio department. All of the voice actors have returned for their roles in the sequel, and the voice acting is stronger than ever. A few times, the lines seemed forced, but overall they were well done. Again, there's music here and there but it's nothing special. The gunshots seem muted compared to their counterparts in the first game, but ambience sound more than makes up for it.

Score: 8/10

GAMEPLAY:
There are a few additions or fixes, but Max Payne 2's gameplay remains virtually unchanged. Once again, you are Max Payne, a cop skilled in using a variety of destructive firearms and slowing down time to use weapons effectively in combat. Max's inventory system has changed slightly. Now, there's a secondary weapon function where you can access hand-held explosives such as grenades or molotovs, or perform melee attacks with whatever gun you're currently holding. The baseball bat and lead pipe are gone, unfortunately, and so is the grenade launcher from the first game. All of the weapons available are ballistic, bullet-based weapons and they feel too similar. One thing I do like is being able to use akimbo Desert Eagles, but extra automatic weapons like the MP5 and the AK-47 feel unnecessary. Another change is rechargeable Bullet-Time. In the first game, in order to regain Bullet-time you had to kill enemies. Here, Bullet-Time will recharge after a minute or so, so if you're running low all you have to do is take a breather in a safe spot and the Bullet-Time meter should be full in no time. Another nifty new feature is how regular Bullet-Time is handled. As you kill more enemies while Bullet-Time is activated, it becomes more effective. Your enemies fire and react even slower, and everything around you becomes sepia-toned while you can move and shoot as fast as you normally do. Reloading during Bullet-Time is faster too, as Max does a fancy spin maneuver instead of having to slowly eject his empty magazines and slam in new ones. When you shoot-dodge, you won't get up until you stop firing or you've depleted your magazine, which is a helpful feature. You can also recruit the help of a few NPCs along the way, but it's certainly not mandatory for you to do so. A few times in the game, you'll also get a chance to play as Mona Sax, the other main character in the game. Several times the game will shift to the same level, but from the other character's perspective. Aside from the changes mentioned above, Max Payne 2 remains largely similar to the original, which revolved around killing a lot of bad guys with a lot of guns.

Score: 8/10

OVERALL:
Pros:
- More of the same gameplay
- Play as 2 characters
- Ragdolls
- Great level design
Cons:
- More of the same, not enough new features...
- Not enough interesting weapons

If you liked the first one, I recommend the sequel, and if you haven't played the first, I suggest you get cracking on both games.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/22/07


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