Monday, February 7, 2011

Canon Video Game Review: Max Payne 2 (XBOX)

Over the past few days, I've been playing the 2003 game for the original XBOX, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, which believe it or not is the sequel to Max Payne. Max is a New York City Police detective who if he had any luck at all, it would be bad. Because most of Max's loved ones have either killed him or betrayed him, Max has an outlook on life that is very dark and cynical, and that might be an understatement. Max Payne 2 was published by Rockstar, and developed by Remedy Entertainment, which also developed the 2010 game Alan Wake, and Rockstar Vienna.

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In Max Payne 2, Max Payne is back on the force after having his name cleared at the end of Max Payne 1. However, all is not well with Max, as he once again finds himself in a hailstorm of mistrust, corruption, and betrayal. To make matters worse, it seems that everyone Max comes across wants him dead. Max finds a new love interest in Mona Sax, a hired gun who like Max, seems to be unable to trust anybody but herself. To further complicate matters, Mona is the prime suspect in the murder of a Senator, and Max's partner Det. Winterson is hell bent on bringing Mona down for the murder. Also, Max's buddy Vladimir Lem, a Russian mobster, seems to have a role in all the goings on, but whose side is he really on? So Max does what he does best, killing a whole bunch of people before his dark life comes crashing down on him again, and maybe comes to a complete stop if Max is not careful.

The gameplay in Max Payne is rather simple, as you go through each level trying to shoot as many bad guys as possible. To assist with this, the game offers the ability to go into 'bullet time', which allows everything to move around you in slow motion, giving the player a major advantage in massive firefights with the enemy. Max also has the ability to dive in slow motion, giving him an advantage in dodging bullets and firing off many shots in mid dive. Also, it looks really cool as you dive over a crate or something and fire bullets at a rapid pace at your enemies. While the gameplay is solid, I did find that the levels got sort of repetitive, as most of the levels are inside apartment buildings and factories, and it kind of runs together after a while. I will say that the funhouse levels are rather interesting, as the surroundings add a whole other level of suspense to the game. Also, there are a few dream sequences that you must play through that further explores the fragile psyche of Max Payne. The narrative of Max Payne is very compelling and well-done, with a film noir esque style that is enhanced by the dark and gritty surrondings that each level has.

The graphics for Max Payne 2 are good. They're not great, as there are a few issues with the character design of some of the supporting characters, but overall the graphics look sharp and the physics engine of Max Payne 2 is probably the graphical strongpoint, as every character moves smoothly and in a realistic manner. Also, the comic panel scenes that advance the story in between levels look very sharp and are very well-drawn. The sound of Max Payne 2 is quite good, I must say, as the game featured excellent voice acting and the various sound effects of each weapon seem to be quite realistic. The game doesn't rely on a whole lot of music, but what music is there also adds to the dark tone of the narrative presented here. The game isn't very long, as one could get through the entire story in a day if they were so inclined, and still have time to play something else. I'd say I played the entire game through in about 13 hours over the course of the last couple of days, and the lack of a multiplayer mode hurts the replay value of the game. Plus, since the game is more of a linear experience than say, Grand Theft Auto, you don't really have a lot of control over the events of the story, so unless you really like the game, there's not really a lot of reason to play it over again (although there is a different ending if you beat the game on the highest level, so at least that's something).

Overall, Max Payne 2 may be a game that might be a little short, but it packs a hell of a punch in a small package. Max Payne 2 is a blast to play through and although it's not perfect, there's really not a lot for me to gripe about when it comes to this game. I'd recommend this game for any gamer that likes a hard hitting action game, and the compelling storyline will keep you engrossed in the game. Overall, I'd give Max Payne 2 an 8.5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at

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