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4.3 out of 5 stars24
4.3 out of 5 stars
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It's quite difficult for gamers coming fresh to Max Payne in 2003 to appreciate just how groundbreaking it was upon it's initial release. The game is perhaps most famous as the originator of the 'bullet-time' gameplay, which slows the action down Matrix-style whilst allowing the player to aim at normal speed. This effect was really impressive when first seen, although it has been copied many times since and it's allure has become somewhat muted as a result. However, Max Payne makes this effect more than just a gimmick; it's absolutely essential to use it when facing multiple enemies in order to avoid a quick death. In fact, no game since has implemented bullet-time to such a successful degree as this. It's not the only thing which makes Max Payne stand out, though - there's a rich and involving story, well-defined characters and even some decent voice-acting for once. The script is excellent; it's like a tongue-in-cheek homage to the hard-boiled 'noir' thrillers of the 'Thirties, and Max's deadpan delivery is admirable. The 'graphic novel' cut scenes are also very impressive, and the game evokes it's gritty atmosphere wonderfully well. The graphics are no longer top-notch, but they still look pretty good, and luckily the X-Box received an excellent conversion which is equal to the PC version in almost every respect (unfortunately the PS2 version is very poor). Criticism of the game is usually centred around it's length; you can finish it in around ten hours without too much difficulty. The game is now available at a reduced price which renders the question a moot point, but consider: would you rather play 10 hours of a top-quality title, or opt for 50 hours of rubbish? I'm not suggesting that all short games are good and all long games aren't - this plainly isn't true, as any fan of RPGs will tell you, but Max Payne is the very definition of quality over quantity. I can understand that perhaps younger gamers, with more spare time to play and less money to buy games, would be pretty disappointed to pay full price for something thay can finish in a day or two, but for anyone else I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this title. The good news is that Max Payne 2 is on the way later this year, so what better time to acquaint yourself with the original?
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on 14 March 2002
The game is designed so you play a role in a movie. The storyboard is thick and rich and if you like violent games, this one is a pickup. There is something in Max Payne that sets it apart from all other games. It's called "bullet time." Bullet time is like what we all saw when Neo was dodging bullets in the Matrix. You have a limited amount of bullet time at your disposal. The effects are very cool and are used to surprise the enemy. You can jump to the side and enable bullet time and everything greatly slows down and you can fire at the enemy while in the air and if you carefully look, you can see the actual bullets zooming out of the barrel of your gun and through the enemy. You can also see the bullets being shot at you from the enemy's gun. The effects are very well done.
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.
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on 12 July 2002
On it's release, Max Payne was rather left behind by the superb Halo. This seems a little unfair, because although Halo is the finest FPS ever, Max Payne is still a worthy purchase.
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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on 17 September 2014
STORY
You play as Max Payne, a young NYPD detective and a devoted family man. After the horrific deaths of your wife and baby daughter, you are plunged into the crime ridden underworld of New York City and introduced to the drug Valkyrie sweeping across the city. The death of Max's family ties in with the rampancy of the drug, making many of the city's crime syndicates relationship with the drug a target for Max's revenge.

The film noir backdrop of the story is its greatest asset. The dark and moody presentation paint a gritty New York City. Max's journey is interestingly portrayed, constantly fighting his inner demons as he spirals towards his ultimate goal of revenge.

GRAPHICS & SOUND
Remedy have done a fantastic job in order to create the unsettling nature of the game's many environments. Max will make his way through eerily quiet subway stations, trawl through claustrophobic alleyways, and end up in industrial districts. The strength of the presentation shines through the illustrated cut scenes, beautifully rendered and adding a strong graphic novel vibe to the overall game.

The character model of Max is well designed, although his facial expression makes it seem like he's extremely constipated. You can expect to come across a number of hobos in the s*** holes of NYC, constantly muttering to themselves and displaying erratic behaviour. The particle effects and physics perform to an incredible level, displaying amazing graphical details. The soundtrack is strong, creating a moody orchestral work to compliment Max's journey.

The game could benefit from better lighting effects, especially within darkened environments where the way forward can be very difficult to view.

GAMEPLAY
Max Payne takes inspiration from The Matrix and introduces bullet-time gameplay. This is the game's primary hook, which allows Max to slowdown time and eliminate enemies with greater ease. Max can gracefully jump all over the place, performing diving shots to evade enemy gunfire. Bullet-time is a limited resource and will eventually deplete from constant usage. The more enemies you kill, the faster the bullet-time gauge will refill. Enemies can be taken on without the need for bullet-time, which can also be great fun, but eliminates accuracy. Max Payne throws a tonne of weapons the players way, from dual handguns to powerful shotguns, sniper rifles, and even chaotic assault rifles. The weapon selection is never lacking, and the fact that you can carry so many at once just adds to the fun of it all.

The game is broken up into chapters, which will whisk Max across New York. Level design is very linear, so it's very easy to find the way ahead and keep pushing to the end of each level. Enemies range from street thugs to military commandos. The earlier stages of the game will present very few problems for players, as enemies will rarely engage you and create life threatening situations. The latter stages of the game present much more complex situations, bombarding you with enemies in very close quarter areas. It's just great fun to let loose with any weapon and reap the benefits of destruction. Not everything is about killing, as some moments will call upon Max to solve mini puzzles, or even traverse hazardous routes in order to progress. Enemies are pretty relentless throughout the game, so it's wise to sniff out painkillers and keep plenty in stock to top up any lost health.

Max Payne doesn't do enough to deliver a greater number of boss battles, or even high pressure encounters. Using grenades and other similar projectiles can be a little awkward, as the throwing mechanics feel a little too stiff.
OVERALL
Max Payne is a fantastic shoot 'em up, full of action and energy. The story is dark and backed by immersive film noir attributes. The graphics depict New York City in a stark fashion. The gameplay is highly entertaining and a complete bullet-fest from start to finish.
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on 18 March 2002
This is just like playing Matrix - with slow motion bullet time adding to the movie quality. It's a predictable story of the cop gone bad but the attention to detail is amazing. The bad guys are not in the Halo league but the game is great fun and very involving. If you like stylish action with guns and more guns then this is for you
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on 13 June 2011
When Sam Lake released in 2001 his first video game, Max Payne's success was incredible. With its numerous trophies that recognized its incredible drama and writing, the dark story of a NYPD detective whose american dream is destroyed by a horrible tragedy became a classic of the video game. Filled with references from asian action movies, the Matrix and even David Lynch works (ex:Lost Highway), this action game has been adapted for the X-Box console, and also for the X Box 360 as a downloadable game on X Box Live. So far, I think the transfer to the XBox works very well. For example, the controls and the camera are easy to use and the game offers enough replay thanks to its various levels of difficulties one can select at the start of the game. Though some would complain that the level design is a little bit dated today, I disagree with them for I think that Same Lake managed to put what sometimes game designers don't put in certain great-looking video games. And by that I mean that Sam Lake put in his game an atmosphere, a tension in the story, the dialogues, its comic book cinematics and an upsetting presence in Max Payne's nightmares, essential scenes to the narration of the game.

Unlike Alan Wake, which is rated for teens, this game is definitely not for younger players for it is rated for mature audiences only. With all its drug references, dark occult cults and psychotic characters, I think this game may not be a relaxing treat for those that want to play relaxing game. I'm saying this because I read many reviews for Alan Wake where gamers were a bit upset by the atmosphere of Alan Wake. But playing a Sam Lake video game is never a comfortable ride. It is a strange and terrifying world, but it is one where you find great scripts, voice-acting, soundtrack, visuals, and most of all, excellent plots, unlike what the reviewer James Sunderland is saying.

A great way to start for those that want to see more of Sam Lake's universe and excellent prose.
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on 10 April 2003
I personally enjoyed this game much more than Splinter Cell. The storyline is surprising and even art. The atmosphere is intense and bullettime is just a great feature.
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on 20 June 2003
I've been through this game twice and I have to say i found it fantastic fun. Ok so the comic book style cut scenes can get a little irritating but at least it gives the impression that some real that has gone into a "plot". The controls are easy and you can carrry as much ammo as you like. Splinter Cell was great but sometimes it's good to just hit bullet time and kill everything in the room safe in the knowledge that every pocket is full of weoponry!
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on 22 April 2003
Max Payne is a fantastic game. The first game with bullet time, it does not look dated. Dive, jump, shoot in slow-motion, easily toggled on and off, with a unique system.... the more action you are involved in, the more bullet time you can use.
Despite the gimmick off bullet time, this remains an excellent game, the cool-as-ice hero, at home in the dark underworld of new york city as he blasts his way to revenge.
The game can become slightly repetetive, but the surroundings and enemies keep it relitivley fresh, and, thanks to bullet time, no combat is ever the same.
This is a great game, and the great gameplay and attention to detail secures it a place at the top of my list. The price discountsimply makes it irresistible.
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on 19 June 2002
What can I say, this game seems to have been rather unjustly slated. Come on guys, open your eyes. The graphics of this game are awesome, combined with the bullet time and range of heavy metal weapons, Max Payne lives up to every gun slingers expectations. Warning, this game is not for the faint hearted, the noises and graphics of those who lie in your wake, will leave you with many a sleepless night. If you want a full on action shoot em up, with a wicked story line and stacks of open access levels, buy this game.
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