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Max Payne uses extremely realistic graphics to showcase a gritty film-noir inspired New York City. Payne stalks subways, tenements, nightclubs and even government installations as he takes his vengeance out on a horde of gun-toting bad guys. Taking a page from the visual style of famed director John Woo, as well as The Matrix, Max Payne lets the player launch into a slow motion mode generally known as "Bullet Time", which makes dodging enemy fire and dishing out your own return fire a breeze, all while leaping side to side. While this looks extremely cool to do, it also evens the odds and can only be used for limited amounts of time, making it a strategic as well as aesthetic option.
And speaking of aesthetics, the game is packed with exciting moments, weapons and locations, even if the enemies get a little redundant after a while. The level design ranges from inspired (a multi-level parking garage) to humdrum (a warehouse) and several levels actually take places in the twisted wonderland of the hero's warped psyche. The introduction scenes are painted photos presented graphic novel style, which is a stylistic choice that pays dividends, even if the writing is hilariously bad and the voice acting is, if possible, even worse.--James Sunderland
I'm still in the process of playing this game and am in the early stages, but I really like what I've seen and done so far. What the creators have done as far as replay value is interesting. When you beat the game, it unlocks a harder mode for you with tougher guys with better aim and your aiming becomes harder as well. And when you beat that mode, there is an even tougher one. The game comes with a variety of weapons to use, from a single Beretta to dual Uzi's. The Uzi looks especially neat in bullet time.
Overall the game has plenty of action and violence that will satisfy anyone's hunger for gore. The game's only weak point is the gigantic storyboard. I tried to pay attention to the storyboard, but then it just became overwhelming. Every 2 minutes, there was something along the storyboard interrupting your fun time. I just began to skip it all and continue with my shootings.
Off the topic, this game is where you would see the X-Box console shine. I've seen Max Payne on both the X-Box and the Playstation 2 and there IS a difference. The PS2 version of Max Payne skips frames often and other sections are choppy, while the X-Box displays it with at a very high frame rate and the lighting effects are far superior in comparison.
A very dark story unravells as you progress, with more twists and turns than a hollywood blockbuster movie. Worthy of the 15 certificate because of the content, the game is a lot deeper than many of the games in its genere.
The unique ability to slow down 'real' time into 'bullet time' is a fresh and welcome addition. The array of weapons is sufficient, and not OTT like many similar games. The only negative is that the controls can feel a little sluggish at times, but overall I think this game is second only to Halo on the console.
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