Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Innovative and fun gameplay, but a dark story with bad morals, and some disgusting content.
Colonel Link - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

<p><strong>Violence:</strong> Hundreds of enemies are killed, but not very much blood is shown. </p> <p><strong>Language:</strong> The F-Word and other expletives are used dozens of times throughout the game, and I don’t think it makes anything more “realistic”. </p> <p><strong>Sexual Content:</strong> Numerous sexual references, innuendos, you hear the sounds of people having sex numerous times, a series of pictures and sounds show the beginning of a sex scene. </p> <p><strong>Moral Issues:</strong> The whole game is very dark and gives a message of hopelessness. None of the characters are moral people, and the games only themes are revenge, hate, passion, greed, and murder.</p>

Payne or Pain
It's still all the same.

Max Payne 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 3rd Person Shooter “Max Payne”, released in 2001. Two years later, Rockstar Games and Remedy Entertainment bring us the long awaited sequel. But does it live up to its predecessor?

Max Payne 2

Two years after the events of the first game, Max is a NYPD detective. While investigating a series of murders by a group of hitmen known as The Cleaners, Max comes face-to-face with Mona Sax, who was thought to have been killed in the first game. When he returns to the station, he hears his new partner Valerie Winterson talking on the phone about Mona. Not long after the station is attacked by unknown assassins looking for Mona. After fighting off the assassins, Max begins hunting down the people responsible for the attack.

The story in Max Payne 2 isn’t incredibly deep, but it still keeps you on your feet with some unexpected twists, and it’s interesting enough. The characters are pretty well developed, but you can never really identify with them due to their extremely dark and depressing personalities.

The themes the game presents are a lot more interesting than the actual story. Max's motivation eventually goes from looking for answers, to seeking revenge. But what is Mona's motivation? Money? Revenge? Justice? I won't give that answer away, but suffice to say it is nothing in the least way noble.

Now, while the themes are interesting, they are far from positive. Revenge, Murder, Sex, Passion, Betrayal and Money are pretty much what the game focuses on. There is never any reference to positive values like Friendship, Love, or Loyalty. The game seems to try and get a message across that says these values don't exist, and that there is only bad in the world.

The main focus of Max Payne is combat, and you never really do anything else. Combat is as simple as point and click, but what makes it special is a feature called Bullet Time. When you go into BT the world around you slows down, but your aiming doesn’t. This gives you an advantage as you can target multiple enemies and get a shot off at each one before any of the bullets actually connect. A new aspect of BT in Max Payne 2 is that when you’re in bullet time the more enemies you shoot, the slower everything gets and the faster you become. At maximum speed you move normally and the whole world around you just crawls. Of course, this ability isn’t unlimited as an hourglass in the bottom of the screen shows how much of it you have left. Unlike the first game this meter is always refilling, as opposed to having to shoot enemies to refill it.
Another aspect of bullet time is the shoot doge. This ability lets Max dive (forward, back, left, or right) while going into a sort of BT. It doesn’t actually use any of your meter up (probably because everything goes back to normal after about 3 seconds), but it’s still very useful as you can dive out of the way of bullets while still shooting at your enemies. Also, unlike the first game you can stay on the ground after using shoot dodge (as long as you’re shooting), which gives you a bit more cover.

This may seem like a cheap move but the enemies are smart enough and come in such large numbers that it balances things out very nicely.

Max’s arsenal includes Grenades, Molotov Cocktails, Machine Guns, SMG’s, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, and Dual pistols.

The AI in Max Payne 2 is definitely better than it was in the first game. Enemies will take cover behind walls and doors, coordinate assaults, throw grenades, and even run away from grenades they themselves had thrown. That’s not to say the AI is perfect; an occasional enemy will still completely ignore you until you shoot him while others may blow themselves up with their own grenades.

Max Payne 2

Despite being a 5 year old game, Max Payne 2 still has some nice graphics. Everything looks quite good, textures are sharp, and the physics are fun (enemies fall down stairs and off roofs). Character models, especially faces, aren’t all that great, but they get the job done. Bullets look great though, with a bullet leaving a trail a-la-Matrix while in bullet time. Also you can actually affect your surroundings. Bullets, grenades, and even bodies knock over paint cans, boxes, etc, adding to the realism.

The game has almost no cutscenes with pretty much all of the story being shown through graphic novel type storybook pages, along with voiceovers and sound effects.

The music in Max Payne 2 is great, and really helps set the dark, brooding mood of the game. Gunfire sounds realistic, and all the sound change in bullet time, becoming more drawn out and deeper sounding. The voiceovers are very well done and capture the character’s personalities well.

Objectionable Content:

Violence: Hundreds of enemies are killed during the course of the game, all of them are either hired killers or mobsters, no innocent civilians; the sheer body amount is staggering, and even a bit desensitizing. All of the deaths include at least some blood. Enemies will spout a bit of blood when short, although it’s not realistic in any way. However, there is a scene where you see the remains of someone who’s been blown up while inside a large toy costume. It’s not bloody, but it is a tab bit disturbing. All in all, the blood isn’t a very big issue.

Max Payne 2

Language: The game is chalk full of profanity. Godd*** makes a few appearances, along with countless uses of Sh** and the F word. I didn’t think the profanity added any “realism”, it just seemed pointless.

Sexual Content: The worst I have ever seen in an M game. There are always TV’s on in the buildings you visit, and one of the shows that is often on focuses completely on sex. It’s full of gross innuendos, and throughout the game you hear a women moaning and screaming as she has sex. And this pops up at least 10 times in the game, and it’s impossible to avoid. Also, there is constant sexual tension between Max and Mona, which eventually leads to them having sex. You see this happen with some partial nudity via the graphic novel pages, along with sexual sounds. You also see Mona taking a shower twice, with almost everything visible.

Other negative elements: The whole game is dark and depressing, and the ending does nothing to redeem it. Max himself does nothing admirable and the game shows everyone as being a corrupt backstabber.

Max Payne 2’s gameplay is fresh, innovative, and a lot of fun. But the sexual content, language, depressing atmosphere and non-redeeming characteristics make this a game one to avoid at all costs.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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