Review by mikecullerne

"A story like so many, a game like no other."

Described as a film noir love story 'Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne' promises more of the brutal violent story telling that made the first a hit with gamers. The original featured some of the most revolutionary graphics ever seen in a PC title with awesome slow motion action scenes (affectionately dubbed 'bullet time') and plenty of other cinematic effects. After it's success on the PC Max Payne came out on Xbox and Playstation 2 and whilst it didn't make as big a splash as it did with keyboard and mouse fans it was well recognised as a landmark first person shooter. Two years since Max Payne hit shelves in 2001 developers Remedy have returned with this, arguably their finest work. Working closely with Rockstar Games they have turned out a game that looks and feels like a movie but of course the gamer is put in the hot seat as they blast through the narrative-driven gameplay.

Whenever you are warned of 'Strong Language, Intense Violence, Blood and Mature Sexual Themes' at the start of a game you know you are in for an interesting story and Max Payne works hard to earn all of those warnings bulging with adult content and strong, violent undertones. Following the games 'hero' Max Payne gamers will learn the story of murder suspect, Mona Sax. Dark. As Max works by her side he begins to fall for Mona and the tragic love story is packed full of t shocking twists and revelations for gamers to soak up. Unfortunately the game is short lived, a ten hour game at best. But of course there are plenty of mods available and another couple of replays is always on the cards if one really enjoys the game.

However players will need a fairly high-speced machine to enjoy The Fall of Max Payne:

- 1Ghz PIII/Athlon or 1.2Ghz Celeron/Duron processor
- 32MB AGP graphics card with hardware transform & lighting support
- 256MB RAM
- 1.5 GB hard drive space
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- DirectX 9.0

These are the absolute minimum specs so to get all the visual effects to fully appreciate the story you will likely need a much more powerful rig.

One of the most exciting elements of the game is the fully implement Havok physics engine which allows the developers to create truly interactive environments where objects and characters act realistically as the player interacts with them. As well as the Havok engine the bullet time feature returns but it has been heavily reworked and has been aptly dubbed 'bullet time 2.0'. With breathtaking slow motion effects and the amazing Havok engine working in-together many of the combat situations end up being some of the most glorious pieces of videogame magic ever made. Enemies are thrown around the place like rag dolls as Max works his way through hoards of enemies with the various weapons included in the game.

Shotguns, magnums, machine guns and a helpful dose of explosive weapons are available for players to blast away with. All of them have various affects on the surrounding environment and choosing the appropriate weapon for each situation will be one of the many keys to success. Another one of those keys is working with friendly characters in the game and using their strengths to Max's advantage will serve gamers well. Of course gamers will also need to be aware that in the blink of an eye a friend could very well become a foe such is the twisting, turning nature of the story.

Graphically Max Payne 2 has plenty of 'extremely detailed environments with photo-realistic textures, highly enhanced radiosity lighting and extremely lifelike characters (including facial animations & lip synchronization) that provide a visually staggering cinematic experience'. Sounds mighty fine and screenshots don't really give justice to the game in motion so be sure to check out the official website for trailers and plenty of in-game movies.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne has a long name but the wait is not very long if you are a PC fan with the game releasing in the next few days. A Playstation 2 version is also on the way and Xbox fans will also be pleased to know that Max Payne 2 will also be heading their way. Of course is you own all three systems and have a substantial amount of spare cash you'll be in Max Payne 2 heaven. As the first Max Payne did, The Fall of Max Payne is set to bring the world of movies and videogames even closer together with full scale production values including a professional motion capture team (with full stunt crew), voice talent for the various characters and authentic digital material from New York (where the game is set). As the gap between Hollywood and development studios becomes almost non-existent gamers are able to experience immersive movie like environments and the Max Payne series is at the forefront of bringing these two distinct elements closer together.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/03


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