To this day, I
have never been as seriously disturbed by a games opening as I was when
I loaded up the original Max Payne for the first time. That opening
sequence established my belief in and affinity for the Max Payne
character, a tortured cop in a world of chaos. Max Payne 2: The Fall of
Max Payne doesnt do too much to deviate from the formula of the
original, and in many ways it functions as an extension of the first
game rather than a new version.
visuals are a bit better and Max has had a facelift (eliminating that
constipated look), Max Payne 2 is basically the same game. You play Max
as he embarks on another journey to solve another mystery to discover
more about the pain he carries within. The hook of the gameplay is the
implementation of bullet time, which by now has been used in a boxload
of games. But the Max Payne style of play is comfortable. Small
modifications have been made to the gameplay to separate the bullet time
and bullet dodge functions. Bullet time can be used to get the drop on
an enemy without affecting your ability to use the bullet dodge and
shoot as much as youd like. Overall, this just gives the player another
reason to create the most cinematically choreographed gunplay possible.
Coupled with a blazing fast Quick Save, the system encourages players to
replay battles and languish in the action sequences.
The major shift
from the first title are several levels that put you in the role of Mona
Sax, the mysterious operative from the first game. She returns here as
Maxs love interest (as if a hardened fellow like Max could ever love
again), and her levels provide some interesting play dynamics. This
separation of the experience to include different periods of character
focus builds toward a much more overtly narrative feel in the game. Max
Payne was always about the story and the action. The action is really
simple and repetitive, although it has a quality to it that allows it to
be repetitive without becoming tedious. In Max Payne, it is narrative
that moves the player along, and by incorporating Mona Sax as a playable
character, the player is further removed from an experience of being Max
Payne. This effect could have been further developed by allowing us to
play other major characters, such as the Russian mafia boss and the
American mafia lieutenant.
of the game work to take us out of the more interior mode of the first
Max Payne. The ever-present televisions now have much more personality
than those of the last game. The new shows include a spoof
Blaxploitation series obviously parodying the Max Payne we knew from the
last game. The melodramatic monologues have been tempered a bit in The
Fall of Max Payne, although the overall effect remains intact.
continues almost directly from the last installment. Characters return
and the various conspiracy elements are worked out to what at least
appears to be their logical conclusion. In many ways the story doesnt
take as many chances as in the original game. Elements, such as the
playable interior psychology segments, remain intact, but are presented
in much more mundane and predictable ways. This is perhaps another
aspect of the original that could have been extended to Mona Sax now
that shes a playable character.
original Max Payne took so many risks in combining storytelling and
gameplay that its understandable that the sequel wouldnt be able to
feel as revolutionary. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne isnt going to
make anyone who didnt like the original want to play. I would go so far
as to strongly suggest that, if you havent played the first game, you
should do so before playing Max Payne 2. The overall effect of the two
games is very satisfying, and if you enjoyed the original at all, Max
Payne 2 is really a must-play. One of the best narrative game
experiences of 2003, hands down.
Shawn Rider (12/01/2003)
Engaging story and gameplay combination; nice graphics; excellent
Dont come looking for a revolution.