Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne
Platform: PC (Also on XBox, PS2)
A winner all across the board. For a single player action-adventure, Max Payne 2 excels on every level.
Graphics: Excellent. Smooth fighting made smoother by a controllable “bullet-time.” Environments that are the most interactive I’ve ever played in (with most objects being subject to physics and gravity). No prescripted ‘cut-scenes’ showing bad guys taking the hits, instead the “rag doll” physics are fully in place, so the cutscenes happen the way the bad guys take the bullets–hard–making for very fulfilling kills. Atmospheres are incredibly varied and generally disturbing (the funhouse level being exceptionally clever). Details on everything from the sway of Max’s trench coat, to lighting, and even the “hot” items (interactive buttons, switches, etc) are blended well and don’t stand out against the backgrounds.
Gameplay: Although you do have to wade through a lot of storylines and cinematics, there’s challenging gameplay within the progression of cutting through bad guys. It’s hard
to get lost; and much thought was put into how you progress through each level with a decent variety of missions. Only common complaint about gameplay is that overall, it’s too damn short.
Artificial Intelligence: Some of the best I’ve ever seen. First Person Shooters need to borrow a tip or two from the Max Payne bad guys. They generally don’t forget you are there just because you duck behind a box. Nor will they stand still for you to fill them full of bullets. Often, they will just run for backup. While certain movements are obviously “patterns” repeated, playing of levels will display how the AI truly tracks and plays against the movements of your character–actually challenging.
Story: The first Max Payne won praises for it’s gritty, dark, comic book style cut scenes about the cop bent on vengeance for his dead family (yeah, I know, not THAT original), but Max Payne 2 picks right up on the story line from the first. Quality voice acting (if not a bit overdramatic on the schizophrenic Max Payne character) adds the credibility that drives the story. Again, the cut scenes are presented in that cold, bleak comic style, but where Max shines, are the missions that are done while Max is either hallucinating or dreaming. These bits are mostly just to progress the story and mess with your head through a trippy manipulation of visuals.
Sound: Highly recommend you play this game in the dark, with no distractions. The rain, the bullets, the whispers of madness… all these things really thicken the atmosphere and will enhance the game play.
Overall: A complete success of merging all things that makes a video game fun. My favorite single player game of 2003.