Review by Archangel267

Reviewed: 04/23/04

A gripping, satisfying shooter that bleeds pure panache

Intro- I saw a demo of this game being played and I was quite impressed by the story and the slow motion gunplay, not to mention equally impressive graphics. When I finally got to play it, I was playing it for hours, and before long, I finished it. Wow. Simply amazing. It wasn't a tough call when I asked myself whether I wanted another run for more Payne.

Storyline- 10/10 As Max Payne, you used to have a very good life, with a good family and house. Things couldn't have gotten better. In fact, things were about to get pretty darn ugly. You enter your house one day to discover your family dead, their murderers left behind, junkies high on a new drug called Valkyr. After disposing of the thugs, you mourn for your losses. Three years later, one thing leads to another, and before long you are fighting for your life, with an army of mobsters out for your blood, while you try to discover who is responsible for the new drug, all the while you are trapped in New York City, with the worst blizzard in history raging.

Flaws? What flaws? This story is pure classic. The story is mainly told in graphic novel form, with Max's monotonous, melodramatic voice narrating. You might get tired of Max's metaphorical, philosophical prattle, but I truly appreciate how much heart this game's story has and how much thought had been put into the storyline.

Graphics- 9.5/10 Very, very nice for a game that is about three years old. Holds up okay even today. The game is usually a beauty to look at. Textures and models are nicely detailed, with just a tad bit of blurriness in a few parts. Weapons are modeled very well, so is the ammunition, all photo-realistic. Explosions and flame effects are realistic-looking as well. Max himself has a very realistic-looking face, with a twisted, demented expression(a lot of players complain he looks constipated :P). Animation is decent as well, but a noticeable flaw is that there is no lip-syncing, and expression changes are executed stiffly as well. Enemies have very limited death animations, something we see fixed in the sequel. Bullet-holes, explosion markings, and bullet/grenade round casings stick around, so you can make almost any place look like a war-zone in a matter of seconds.

Sound/FX- 9.9/10 Near-perfect. Guns sound accurate, explosions are loud and clear, and enemies will yell threats and curses upon noticing your presence. There may not be that much music, but in this case, it's a plus, as the silence adds to the mood. But when the music is on, so is some intense gunplay. Voice-acting is flawless, the voice-actors talked like they meant it, especially Max. The graphic novels have this melancholy, placid tone in both dialogue and music.

Gameplay- 9.4/10 Unbelievable. This may sound like something you have heard over and over about this game, but I must mention it: You get the feeling that you are actually playing a movie. The bullet-time feature bleeds pure coolness, and really enhances what would otherwise be a “been there, done that” experience(but still left with an impressive storyline). Bullet time is Max’s ability to slow down time, and (apparently) increase his awareness dramatically. Everyone and everything slows down, including Max, but he can still aim his weapon in real-time, giving him quite an advantage against his enemies. As Max, you can also perform a shoot-dodge, where you dive in slow-motion, while being able to fire your weapon(in real-time). Dodging countless rounds and shooting your enemies full of lead in slow-motion is something very much worth experiencing in a game. If you watched any John Woo movies, it’s influence on Max Payne’s gameplay is quite obvious, and you may be constantly reminded of it when you are having yet another memorable shootout. The environments seem apt for shootouts as well(ranging from warehouses replete with shelves and boxes to a manor)heightening the experience.

Replayability- 8.6/10 Surprisingly, this title is quite fun to play multiple times. There are several levels of difficulty, and this game isn’t too short, so replayability isn’t a big factor here.

After you get really bored, there are dozens of mods out there to be played, and a number of them are very, VERY good, so you shouldn’t be quite done with this game for a heck of a long time, unless, of course, you want to go out and start playing the sequel ASAP.

Difficulty- Easy to Intermediate
This game isn’t very hard at all. The bullet-time makes things easy, so you shouldn’t be stuck anywhere, not for a long time, anyway.

Overall- 9.6/10(not an average) Truly an impressive game, with a gripping storyline, looks, style, and fun gameplay. You are really missing out if you don’t give this game at least a single run-through.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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