Review by dejectedgeek
"Bullets, betrayal, and blood make a GREAT game"
A sequel to one of the more exciting and unique shooters from 2001, Max Payne 2 delivers on all the action, story, and presentation you would expect from a film noir love story. For those of you who don't know the original storyline here it is: When DEA Agent Max Payne's family was killed by users of a drug called Valkyr he goes undercover to find out who's the big pusher. His cover is subsequently blown and is framed for murder. Not taking this situation lightly, he starts to kill any and all mobsters in relation to the drug, Valkyr. Fast forward a little bit, Max leaves the DEA and comes back to the NYPD as a detective. When he receives a call to investigate a suspected shooting at a warehouse, old memories come back to haunt him as he starts to investigate the case.
I don't want to ruin the whole story since the presentation of the story is the thing I commend the most. But if you really want to know, play the game.
If you're familiar with the original Max Payne, you know how the game will play. Remedy did a FANTASTIC job on upgrading the Bullet Time system (every kill nabs you some more time and puts Max deeper into the ''zone.'' Making his enemies slower while he moves at normal speed). In addition to a few more weapons, you'll note that shootdodging doesn't take away your Bullet Time anymore. A welcome change, IMO. The gameplay is not without it's flaws. The platforming sections (few and far between) are still sketchy and sometimes require a few times to get right, but worry not, there are no more instant death mazes. The heart of Max Payne 2 lies in dispatching your enemies stylishly and enjoyably, definitely the most important and fun part of this game.
I don't want to give out any spoilers whatsoever, so I won't elaborate on the story. The presentation of the story is something that really grabs you by the neck and makes you appreciate the way it's shown to you. The graphic novel cutscenes and superb voice acting make waiting between levels very tolerable as you move the story along and discover what's really going on.
Top notch on the Xbox. Character models are absolutely stunning and realistic, motion capture has few problems, and the animations are very well done. The only gripe I had was with the finger/hand models. I know it must be hard to draw and animate 10 seperate fingers but if Remedy had taken some time to do it, I think the graphics were probably the best you would ever see on an Xbox, bar none.
The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. The main theme has been redone by an orchestra and the level/cutscene music puts a real sense of cinema into your mind. The sound effects sound great, and even better when you're in Bullet Time. If you have a Dolby system, Max Payne 2 is definitely one game that will help show it off.
The one real bad thing about Max Payne 2, unfortunately, is its length. The first time I ran through the game took me about 8 hours. That's not a typo, eight hours. While I feel this is VERY short, it also seems appropriate for this type of game. You can replay the game 3 times, once to initially beat it, 2nd to get the Dead on Arrival difficulty, and 3rd on DOA mode to get another ending.
If you really love shooters and want to see a wonderfully presented story, yes, it is worth all $49.99. If you just want a good game to play over the weekend, this is the game for you as well.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/02/04
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