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jmke 24th February 2004 23:33

Max Payne 2 Review
 
Review by Jim Bollansée, aka Blue_Boy © 2004

Introduction

When Max Payne hit the shelves in 2001, it hit like a bomb, or to be more precise, like a bullet, from a cold gun, right between your eyes, where things like memories about the ones you loved live…
Ok, I’m getting carried away, back to the point.
So Max Payne had it all, great story, fantastic graphics, good sound, fantastic gameplay etc...
The Remedy guys took their time to develop Max Payne 2, and they made one promise, they where going to make Max Payne 2 even better than its predecessor.
Guess what, those Fins kept their promise, Max Payne 2 rocks, yeah.


Look at me when I'm aiming at you!

Max Payne 2 picks up where Max Payne left of, and those who haven’t played Max Payne you can just click “Previous on Max Payne”, to get a quick introduction to the Max Payne story. But in fact, I don’t think you’ll really need it, even without having played Max Payne you’ll be sucked right into the story.


Gameplay

Max Payne 2 would be an ordinary game (if you lose the story and the graphics and the sound too) without bullettime. For those who are wondering what bullettime (the one used in Max Payne 2, not the one from “The Matrix Trilogy”): when you activate bullettime, everything moves in slow-motion, the only thing that isn’t affected is your ability to aim in real time.

The more enemies you kill, the more bullettime you gain and the deeper you go into “the zone”. The deeper you go into “the zone”, the more intense bullettime gets. Everything starts to move really really slow, while you still move in “normal slow-motion”, so you get an edge over the dozens of enemies you face.
With bullettime, you preform dodge-shoots (like in the John Woo movies), you’ll see the bullets you fire, you can do a very, very cool reload move (a kind of deadly pirouette, max turns around while the camera turns around in the opposite direction).
In bullettime, you kill people in style.


John Whoo baby, yeah


When you start the game for the first time, the only option you can choose is “detective”, which has an auto-adjusting difficulty level (I can finally finish this game yeah), and leads you trough the story of Max Payne 2.
When you finish the game, a few more options become available.
You can play the game on the “Hard-Boiled” level, which is, off course, harder.
You also unlock the “New York Minute” option.

In “New York Minute” it’s the point to get trough a level as quickly as possible.
There’s another option called “Dead Man Walking”.

Dead Man Walking is a mode in which you play in a very small level (a parking lot or something like that), and in the beginning there is one enemy, after 5 seconds, 2 enemies spawn, after another 5 seconds, 3 enemies spawn and so on, it’s the point to stay alive as long as possible. When you succeeded to stay alive, lets say, 3 minutes, there are enough enemies to keep your bullettime gauge full all the time which allows you to play in super slow-motion all the time, very cool.

And now, the only “negative point” about Max Payne 2, it is short, a experienced gamer will cut trough it in 7-8 hours, and then play it again, and again, and again…


Graphics
Aaah, the graphics of Max Payne 2, they are godlike. At first sight, they are nothing special, but when you look closely, you’ll notice that the textures are very detailed and extremely sharp. What Sony promised with “The Getaway” was made true by Remedy entertainment.

The graphics are accentuated by the bullettime effect, when you see detailed bullets fly, causing little sparks when they hit a metal plate, leaving decals on walls, while your ingrams are “pissing” bullets and spitting fire, you’ll truly appreciate the graphic power of Max Payne 2.


When you shoot the sniper rifle, the camera "rides the bullet", very cool and stylish


The physics engine Max Payne 2 uses is the “Havoc physic engine”, which features rag doll characters.

“Rag doll physics” means that when you shoot someone, he will “collapse” and fly halfway across the room, which off course makes the bullettime moments totally cinematic. (I, sick bastard had hours of fun blasting dead bodies trough rooms with a sawed off shotgun)


Prepare to eat lead

The recommended specs to play Max Payne 2 are “a 1.7 GHz. Pentium 4 / 1.4 GHz Athlon and a Direct X 9.0 compatible Graphics Card with 64 MB of memory”, which isn’t too terrible. (My Geforce 4 Ti 4200 had no problems at all dealing with all the graphic fun Max Payne 2 threw at it.)


Sound

The Sound of Max Payne 2 is simply, “the max”. From the chello main theme at the intro screen, the voice acting, the music during the shoot-outs, the sound effects in general and so on.

I’m one of these guys who knows that something is good and than is totally convinced by its genius by one small detail. Max Payne 2 has more then one of those, but in the sound department it’s the “swoosh sound” that you hear clearly when your trying some moves in a room you just cleaned of thugs. Enough said, the sound of Max Payne 2 rocks, even without any rock in its soundtrack.


Story

“A film noir love story”

The story of Max Payne is noir, like coal-black, and it sucks you in with its “comic book sequences” and very good voice-acting.

I’m not going to tell you what it’s all about but when a routine job at the NYPD goes wrong, and Max meets his Femme Fatal Mona Sax again, the bullets start to fly.
Conspiracies, traitors, fake friends, mob wars, Max Payne 2 has it all.
A nice and funny touch are the conversations between the mob members, and the various TV series like “Address unknown”, “Captain Basebalbat” and “Dick Justice” are very funny and they also fulfil a certain role in the story, you’ll see.


Style
Now I feel like an innovative reviewer, like the first one to introduce the “style” in a review, hurray. If you would like to describe Max Payne 2 with the term “cool”, “cool as liquid nitrogen” would be the only correct way to describe it.
Max Payne 2 creates some kind of an alternate New York, a “Noir York”, a New York where it always rains, and every room is stuffed with a new danger.
Little things like the episodes of “Address Unknown” that describe the actions you took in the previous levels give the game something surrealistic, something dark.
When you’re playing Max Payne 2 you get the feeling that you are an actor in a film, but in the same time you are affected by all the feelings and pain Max has to endure to find a kind of mental stability.

Wow, we’re getting a little to philosophical here, on with the show please.



Bullets, shells and thugs in action :)



Conclusion
Max Payne 2 is revolutionary again; it fades the line between games and movies, movies and entertainment, entertainment and art…
Revolutions are good.
Even if you blast trough Max Payne 2 in 5 hours, the 10 € you pay per hour isn’t expensive. Max Payne 2 is like a deadly ballet of flying bullets, cold steel, passionate feeling, and intriguing stories and above all, it rocks like hell (and the highway to it).


--Blue Boy--

Sarcastro 25th February 2004 00:44

game reviews!

Blue_Boy 25th February 2004 15:12

Yeah !

jmke 25th February 2004 19:38

you made me reinstall this game! :)

piotke 25th February 2004 20:02

"retro-gaming" overhere :)

just bought me max payne 1 :)

Blue_Boy 25th February 2004 21:48

"undercover cop, nothing to lose"


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