Review by Ofisil

"Good, but somehow not the same game"

Max Payne 2 is a Third Person Shooter developed by Remedy Entertainment. Max Payne came and conquered the gaming scene with its cinematic action, movie-like presantation and excellent noir atmosphere. Max Payne 2 achieves, like most sequels in my opinion, to improve but at the same time also decrease the quality of the first game in various ways. Let's see how…

Story: 5/10
Presentation: 6.8/10

Max Payne 2 deals with Max Payne and Mona Sax, a character from the first game and their adventure against a mysterious group of people who wants to kill both. I have mixed feelings towards the plot of MP2. Max Payne is no longer the smart a$$ with the famous smirk who combines coolness with a dark noir style, instead we have a typical movie detective, in his late 30's or something who doesn't actually “live” the story but “acts” as if he is an actor playing Max and Mona Sax is your typical run of the mill femme fatale who talks, walks and behaves as if she is a model-turned-actor who portrays an action heroine. The narration follows the same formula, with its great noir atmosphere and the comic-like cutscenes. However there are major differences. Max Payne had somewhat cheesy dialogue but it never sounded ridiculous. Here, Max will many times sound as if he is reading badly written poetry. Instead of the hate filled Max who wanted to spill the blood of his family's murders we have a Max who falls in love with Mona in a way that looks way to forced and hard to swallow. Furthermore gone is the almost apocalyptic atmosphere of the game. Instead what we have here is a simple action movie where our hero has to kill of some goons and their boss… anticlimactic and not epic at all.

Gameplay: 7/10
Replay Value: 3/10

Like in the first game you move Max with the arrow keys and point and shoot with the mouse. Your mission is once again quite simple: Shoot, shoot aaand shoot. You once again have many weapons at your disposal, but like with the original they don't have any strategic value, you just pick the one you want and fire. Bullet time is here once again but it doesn't decrease time so much making dodging bullets much more challenging butAlso after each kill times slows down even more while you retain a relatively better speed. One good thing is the fact that now bullet time regenerates in its own letting you use it more often, something that some people may find bad because it decreases the challenge. The best improvement in my opinion is the way enemies behave. Sure they still have the same dumb and simplistic AI but at least they don't shoot at you the millisecond you appear behind a corner forcing you to use the quick save so often.

There is a better level variety meaning that in some levels you'll have to do more than just shoot stuff. Don't worry, no puzzles, item finding or anything like that. What I mean is that there are some more unique missions where you have to protect another character or find some allies to help you something the original lacked. The thing I don't like is the fact that everything becomes a bit boring after a while. Enemies don't require some special strategy since they are all the same despite their differences in attire and the levels are the same ol' 100% linear areas where you put one foot in front of the other and Bingo! Level completed.

Graphics: 10/10
Design: 9/10

Like the original we have excellent, highly detailed textures. Areas lack the atmosphere of the first game but they are far better in terms of realism and overall design. Characters now have excellent animation, (body and facial), much better from the first one and look good when they die due to the rag-doll physics. Physics also apply to the vast number of objects that decorate the various areas which makes battles look quite cool since the environment isn't your typical static game world. We also have great special effects like fire and explosions and very good lighting effects, something that the first game lacked. Snow dominated the scene of the original Max Payne… here the central theme is rain which simply never stops, enhancing the Noir feel of the game but somehow not managing to have the same impact in the atmosphere of the game like the snow and wind of the original.

Sound: 8.5/10
Music: 7/10

A bit of improvement here too since voice acting has now been taken care of by a team of professional voice actors, (I prefer the original actors but I see the improvement nonetheless). Music fits like a glove to the Noir atmosphere of the game however the music of the original Max Payne was somewhat darker while themes here sound a bit more melancholic maybe to the enhance the main theme of the game which is romance & love. Sound effects have pretty much the same quality but weapons sound extremely weaker which is bad for any shooter. Finally like in the original the TV sets that are scattered all around have some “movies” and commercials that now are even funnier and actually self-parody the game like Dick Justice, a 70's, Afro-American “version” of Max Payne.

[+]:
-A nice noir atmosphere and narrative
-Nice gunfights & better missions than the original
-Improved Bullet Time
-Excellent graphics with a great physics engine

[-]:
-Boring plot
-Less atmospheric
-Levels still linear \ Gameplay still repetitive
-Why, oh why Max looks like THIS!?!
-Very weak weapon sounds

Also Play:
Deus Ex (PC)
F.E.A.R. (PC)
Max Payne (PC)
Max Payne 3 (PC)

Overall: 7/10

Overall Max Payne 2 is at the same time better and worse. It has better game mechanics but it is also more repetitive. It has the same movie-like narrative but lacks the atmosphere of the original. Like with the original though, Max Payne 2 should be viewed as a whole and not as just a game. But even then it somehow lacks the “charm” of the first game. Try it out even though it won't rock your world.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/27/08, Updated 02/15/13

Game Release: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (EU, 10/24/03)


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