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M (Mature)



Q4 2003



- Wall-to-wall action
- More flash than the original
- Refined controls
- More of that Max Payne goodness



- Not much more to offer than the original



Review: Max Payne 2 - The Fall of Max Payne (XB)

Review: Max Payne (XB)

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Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Score: 8.4 / 10


max payne 2 xbox review       max payne 2 xbox review


If you liked the original Max Payne, chances are that you’ll gobble up the sequel because it features everything that the original did while upping the presentation and making a couple of improvements. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (MP2) isn’t groundbreaking by any means but it does provide some entertainment.

Essentially, the story picks up from where the original left off. If you’ll recall, Max had just wiped out a few thousand well-armed thugs and taken out a helicopter in an effort to achieve some kind of revenge for the slaughter of his wife and child. This left his future in some doubt, but the mysterious Alfred Woden promised help and he was obviously true to his word because Max is reinstated with the NYPD (where MP2 starts). Beyond that, you’ll have little idea what the hell is going on plot wise as the narrative jumps between the past, present and future. It all makes




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sense at the end but for the most part you’ll only have a notion of what is happening beyond the barrel of Max’s gun.

The underlying game mechanics haven’t changed: shoot everyone. But there have been refinements and one of those is bullet-time.

When bullet-time is activated, the world switches to a murky sepia tone and as you


gun down opponents your bullet time meter and your relative speed are increased. In some sections this can mean spending a long time running and diving in slow motion as Max deals death with a variety of guns. (Reloading your gun in bullet-time results in a funky reloading motion that really has to be seen to be appreciated.) I found myself switching to bullet-time a lot more than I ever used in the original game. Shootdodging is still useful but I didn’t use it nearly as much.

Another refinement has to do with the control and weapon management. Now there is a single button to use Molotov cocktails and grenades (when you have them). In the original you had to select them, toss them, then switch back to a gun. It was clunky. Now it’s a simple matter of setting your secondary for easy access.

Aside from Max’s over-starched coat, the presentation really gets a shot in the arm with improved physics. Now the interaction with your environments are more life-like – boxes can be knocked over, chairs pushed around, etc. but where it shines is the combat. Enemies behave much more realistically – in a Hollywood way – when they’re shot: slamming into walls, tumbling down stairs, crumpling under a headshot, etc. It’s because the physics engine works so well that when it does something strange it’s really noticeable (though it doesn’t happen too often). The audio portion is very good as well, but there is the occasional bleed-over from cutscenes.


max payne 2 xbox review          max payne 2 xbox review

Although MP2 tries to stick with the gritty New York feel, it often dips to the ridiculous. I don’t want to give anything away, but at one point Max has to provide cover for Baseball Bat Boy. There are some other characters that also carry over from the original: Vlad Lem, Vince Gognitti and, of course, Mona Sax (who is playable for a section of the game). There are still forays into Max’s nightmarish subconscious, but they are less frustrating than the originals.

Fans of the original’s graphic novel cutscenes and melodramatic dialogue need not worry – there are many graphic novel interludes and plenty of dialogue. Actually, it almost feels like too many cutscenes were included.

In terms of gameplay hours, MP2 is on par with the original, which means “too short” or “not enough” to some. I disagreed then and I’ll disagree now – MP2 has just enough play time. Once you’ve finished the game, more modes become unlocked (modes taken from the original like New York Minute), including a Dead Man Walking mode, which pits Max against wave after wave of respawning foes in an enclosed area. The goal is simple: stay alive for as long as possible.

If you’re expecting Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne to blow you away and put the original to shame, you’ll probably be disappointed. MP2 refines the original – layers some extra flash but at its core, remains very much the same as the original. That being said, I still liked it.

- Omni
(December 8, 2003)


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