Max Payne is coming
Max Payne is coming

Max Payne is coming

Max Payne review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the grandfathers of pulp fiction revenge shooters.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

When I think of Max Payne 1, I think of the following words: revenge, murder, cliches, bullets, lots of guns, hookers, blow jobs, the ice storm, drugs, junkies, sleaze, New York, porn, conspiracies, evil corporations, bullet time, explosions, pulp fiction, comics, black mail, nothing to lose.

You take the role of Max Payne, a New York detective who has the American Dream, an attractive wife that loves him, a small baby, living in your suburb home. As soon as the game starts these Valkyr (a new drug, sort of like Nuke in Robocop 2) junkies brake into your house and murder both your child and soul mate. After killing them, you sob over their corpses like a helpless child. Soon after that, you transfer into vice work, working deep undercover infiltrating the mafia to get to the source of the drug Valkyr. You have been working doing that for a few years but when you are finally getting some good leads, they kill your partner, the only real person who knows exactly what you were up to and you are framed with his murder. The cops are after you, the mob, and more as you go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in a conspiracy that has permanently made you a marked man. You’re Max Payne, you’d had nothing to lose for years now. Time to kill everybody who gets in your way of revenge and your pursuit of the truth. This is what this game is all about. It’s about not giving a fuck and going forward with a gun to the back of your head.

The game has intense action with cut scenes mainly in the form of a pulp fiction styled comic that is brilliant, which reminds me a lot of the darkest Heavy Metal comics. They made a movie for this game, which is a piece of shit. They should have just shot the comics with a few action sequences in between, in the style of the game, and they could have had something that could have rivaled Sin City. Back to the game…

This is an intense 3rd person shooter and it introduced the concept of bullet time into games, taken from the first Matrix movie, which was popular at the time. The game feels like a very gritty Jon Woo film mixed with some aspects from other games such as Sanitarium (the dream sequences are creepy as hell, with Max Payne haunted by the spirits of his dead woman and child). Regarding the dream sequences, you will never forget the blood trail of your child as you run down a haunted corridor, trying to get to your family to save them in time. Too little, too late.

The combat system consists of walking/running/jumping around in 3rd person mode. You heal by taking pain killers (Max Payne gets hurt a lot, get it?) to take the pain away/regenerate flesh. Just pretend that they’re stimpaks from Fallout.

Max Payne was/is a wonderful gaming experience and everybody should at least play it through at least once. The game is art.

Max Payne is available for PC, Xbox, PS2, Mac, and Gameboy Advanced.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy stuff blowing up and seeing people get shot and fall down using ragdoll physics, then you need to load up Max Payne and empty out some dual ingrams on a squad of goons. The tension of the atmosphere in the game mixed with the comic styled cut scenes, the drama of revenge, the brutal ice storm mixed with everybody out to kill you makes the action adrenaline pumping and that’s a big plus for Fun Factor. Fun Factor gets a 10 out of 10, even with the age of the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is ROUGH. It’s from a time when games were not catered to the masses and you had to be good if you wanted to play a challenging game.

You can only play it on the basic difficulty unless you beat the game already and had that installation on this computer when you are replaying it (or you’re just a masochist). Even to a veteran gamer, you will find yourself quick saving and quick loading OFTEN. The damage you take, even at the basic difficulty, is roughly scaled to the amount that you inflict on enemies and most of the time you’re fighting more than one enemy, so you either need to be a quick gun or rely on bullet time to take them out tactically, but it doesn’t always helps as it won’t stop them from shooting you.

If you want to be a sick puppy, you can always opt out to not ever use bullet time and then the game gets as hard as Mafia (a similar game, except with no bullet time and a harder damage engine). I have beaten the game through like this, although it is very hard.

My recommendation is to keep an alternating save game using two slots and save there manually at the beginning of the level and then quick save/load the rest of the way through until you get to the next level.

Since the game is punishing, but in a good way, but it does not let you pick the most ridiculous difficulties from the start, Max Payne gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Through Steam you can pick up both Max Payne 1 and 2 for 15 bucks when it’s not on sale and sometimes around 7 dollars when they are. On www.gogamer.com, you can get the console versions ranging from 8-14 dollars. You can pick up the console versions for about 5 dollars on www.ebgames.com. Considering the game will last you a good 8-16 hours the first time you play it or more and how fun it is, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10. This game needs to be in your video game library.

Replayability:

I’ve played Max Payne 1 over 9 times through the years. The comic cut scenes have cliched pulp fiction dialogue but I love it all. I feel Max’s sorrow as he loses his family and becomes a man with nothing to lose. The more you get into the game, the more you feel how he’s becoming a lose cannon. I know every part in this game but because it’s really well made and challenging, I visit this game yearly, as well as part 2. Since part 3 will come out this year, it’s now a great time to replay this game or play it again for the first time and follow it up with part 2 immediately, if possible. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The voice acting and sound effects for the game are amazing! It will immerse you into the character and you will feel the sleaze of the dark corners of New York throughout most of the game. All the voice actors sounds like professionals. Even the Russian you meet in game sounds pretty authentic.

There are a few parts where sounds will cut off another sound effect which I think is a limitation of sound cards at the time this game was released or simply a limitation of the sound engine/algorhythms the game uses. Sound itself is brilliant but because of that glitch, Sound gets a 9 out of 10.

Music:

The soundtrack to the game is perfect. It varies from the deeply sad main theme to the rock/techno from the heavy battle sequences.

The main theme is both dramatic, orchestral, and a rock ballad. Every time I hear the main song, I automatically remember everything that happened in the game. It’s that good.

The music adds a lot to the atmosphere in this game and it’s well implemented, with moments of silence to build up the tension and moments where the music is well timed like a well done action movie. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics are now dated, using an older version of DirectX but for it’s time the graphics were astonishing. I remember this games as being one of the first ones that implemented anti-aliasing successfully. The fire and explosions in particular look the greatest. Some scenes in the game will reminds you a lot of New York and some levels in the game will remind you of Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard and also the building battle from the Matrix part 1. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall, the game almost never crashes or gets stuck loading. The only problems I found were when doing alt-tab and only when running multiple programs in the background, that the game thread got stuck in oblivion/infinity. Basically, don’t alt-tab much if you’re going to play this game, as it’s an action game anyways and you ruin the flow. The physics engine itself might not be the best but it doesn’t detract from the game too much. Overall, Stability/Reliability is a 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are well picked for the game, both the PC and console versions. For PC, you move around with WASD, E uses, shift triggers bullet time + jump to cover, space jumps, left mouse button fires, R reloads, right mouse also bullet times. Controls being not too complicated are the key and you will enjoy that combined with the fast action and the different implementations of using the best gun for whatever the situation is. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

When this game came out it was a machine killer. Most could run it but when you saw it running on max settings on a faster machine, it put yours to shame. Since it’s been going to be nearly a decade since the game came out, any gaming machine these days will run the game like a dream on the max settings. As a result of that Performance gets a 10 out of 10 in the modern scope, probably a 7 out of 10 if you time travel and play it back in 2001.

My history with this game:

This game is a classic. I remember seeing the screenshots in the late 90s and being completely blown away. Not only of the graphics but the story and also the comic cut scenes. You can tell that they put in the time to make the best game possible and it was worth waiting years for it to come out.

When I first played this game I had recently seen Boondock Saints and I was in the mood for murdering a bunch of criminal scumbags. The action sort of reminds me also of Dirty Harry, the Death Wish movies, and Heat/Ronin.

The gun battles are all epic and the game itself is hard, which is my cup of tea. It always keeps me interested even though I know every part of the game already.

I need part 3 to come out ASAP, so we can continue to live Max Payne’s journey to redemption.

  • David

    This game was pretty badass for its time. It also added to the genre through the use of bullet time, which still gives me a kick when I use it in so many games including this one. The Noir style that they used kept me entertained, so instead of rushing through cut scenes, I’d sit back and enjoy them.

  • I worked for Take2 Technical Support when this and it’s sequel came out. they were two of their better titles during this period.

  • Lizzy Eros

    I love the comic book storytelling in this game.

  • Joern Ashes

    This review perfectly describes my feelings when I played the game and why I think it’s one of the best of all times. It’s a while ago I played it, but it’s still on my mind. Thanks for this great article, I think I’m in need to re-install. 🙂