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Max Payne | 2 | Fall of Max Payne | review | game | Lollipop
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
(Rockstar Games for PC)
by Eric Chon
Max Payne 2 – The Fall of Max Payne is billed as a film-noir love story set on the hyper-violent streets of New York City and it delivers like a 50-caliber bullet to the temple. The game picks up where its predecessor left off, continuing the story of our main protagonist, Max Payne, a hard-as-nails police detective with a short temper and a very itchy trigger finger. And as before, some bastards've done him wrong and it's your duty to kill 'em all in a hail of lead death.
Max Payne 2 uses a graphic-novel style approach to telling its story, breaking stages into chapters, with introductions told like comic-book panels (dialog balloons and all). It follows that age-old "betrayal and revenge" storyline, but spices things up by turning it into a cliché-driven hard-boiled detective dime-novel. This might sound like a bad thing at first, but somehow developers Remedy Entertainment are able to make the game witty and engaging rather than groan-inducing. But the story is secondary to the main attraction: The action.
This is where Max Payne triumphed over everything before it. Playing Max Payne was like directing your own John Woo movie, except you also got to be Chow-Yun Fat – twin pistols and all. And Max Payne 2 only makes it better. The famed "bullet-time" feature has been refined and now stands as one of the greatest innovations in action-gaming. When activated, time slows down for your enemies but Payne can still aim and fire normally (thus allowing him Woo-like feats during fire-fights). But in this sequel, the more guys you destroy, the faster you can move during bullet-time. Eventually, you can dodge fucking bullets while shooting everyone in the eyeball or crotch with an MP5. Pure brilliance. Sound a bit like Enter The Matrix? Sure, but it's done infinitely better than that boring piece of crap.
Visually, the game is as beautiful as Max is deadly. Somehow, some dudes in Finland were able to perfectly recreate a rain-soaked Hells Kitchen NYC. Textures are sharp and refined and character models robust. The best part is the inclusion of the Havok 2.0 physics engine (allowing you to interact with the world rather than everything being stuck to the ground) and rag-doll physics for your enemies. Shooting them off ledges will cause them to tumble and fall, much like a real corpse! Grenades will send bodies flying into the air, bouncing off walls and each other – it gets to a point where you'll just want to replay certain scenes to get the best-looking play you can manage.
The original Max Payne set the game world on its ear with a heartfelt, if not derivative, story and amazing gameplay. Max Payne 2 follows those same tenets, but turns the heat up from boil to scorch. My only gripe is that the game is so short, but perhaps that's a testament to its astounding gameplay. Fucking awesome.