Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Game Info
Xbox, PS2
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence
The Good

• Great story
• Excellent graphics and voiceacting
• Same great gunplay but without the excessive platforming elements

The Bad

• Very short and linear
• Gameplay is pretty much the same as the first game


Max Payne 2 picks up the story not much longer after the end of the first game. Max Payne has returned to the NYPD and before too long finds himself in the middle of yet another gang war, this time between the Russians and the Mafia. But, a third party, known as The Cleaners is involved and before too long Max finds that the secretive Inner Circle has marked Max for death. But, Max isn't alone in this - gun for hire Mona Sax becomes involved with Max, taking him down a path that once again lands him on the wrong side of the law.

The gameplay behind Max Payne 2 is pretty familiar for those who played the first game. Max controls with the two analog sticks, jumps with the A Button, performs actions with the X Button, and fire your equipped weapons with the Right Trigger. Using the D-Pad, players can equip various weapons found throughout the game, including dual 9 MM pistols, dual Desert Eagles, MP5, Striker Automatic Shotgun, and a Kalashnikov. Also available are grenades and Molotov Cocktails, which can be equipped and used with the Y Button. Certain weapons can go into a scope mode with the X Button, which becomes a necessary element in certain portions of the game.

But, what would Max Payne be without Shootdodge and Bullet Time? By moving in a direction and hitting the Left Trigger, Max Payne will go into a slow motion dive that allows him to target numerous enemies while firing. This move is great for shooting at enemies while diving from behind corners or cover. Hitting the B Button will enter Max into Bullet Time, where the world around Max slows down, allowing for great feats of gunplay. Unlike in the first game, Max doesn't slow down but runs at full speed in Bullet Time, and even performs an awesome spinning move when he needs to reload his guns.

Max Payne 2's story is told in similar fashion to the first game - through a mixture of graphic novel style panels and in-game cutscenes. While most of the game will be spent focused on Max running through and blowing away every enemy you can find, there have been some changes to the mix. First and foremost is a larger focus on computer controlled NPC allies. In a few scenarios, Max will find himself temporarily allied with other characters, so players will have to be careful not to accidentally shoot your own people and the give them appropriate cover in a firefight. Also, players will be given the chance to play as Mona Sax, who must provide cover fire for Max during one portion of the game. For those who hated the asinine platforming elements of the first game, Remedy has removed almost all of it from the sequel. There are a few spots where you'll have to make jumps from one ledge to another, but it's nothing like the nightmarish dream sequences from the first game.

The visual package behind Max Payne 2 is vastly improved over the original. This is not to say the first game looked bad, but in comparison, the sequel just looks so much better in execution. The game world is huge and has a ridiculous amount of detail. Rooms are filled with appropriate furniture and debris, most of which can even be knocked around, especially during the heat of a firefight. Textures are of a fine quality and do a great job at giving a gritty reality to the game. Lighting and shadow effects are nicely done and accent the fire textures and details built into each area. This time around, character models are noticeably improved, especially in the faces and animations, which both look less blocky and more realistic.

To be honest, there wasn't much room for improvement in the audio portion of the game. With a larger focus on story, though, the level of quality voice acting is quite noticeable. It's actually worth the players time to take their time and listen to the conversations that the enemies carry on before rushing in to blast them. Sound effects are pretty solid and fit the action on-screen well. The music is pretty dark and sets a wonderful tone for the story without being too heavy-handed in the delivery.

If Max Payne 2 has any failings, I would have to say that it's a fairly short ride. You can beat the main story in a rental. Also, the game runs pretty much on a linear path of going from one location to the next. Plus, except for a few new twists, the core gameplay is relatively that same as the first title. This is not too say this is a bad thing, but those expecting a lot of changes may come across disappointed.

Even being as short as it is, Max Payne 2 is a damn good game that takes all the best parts of the original and makes them better. If you're looking for a great action shooter that has a finely crafted and delivered story, then look no further.

- - Vane

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