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Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Score: 8.4 / 10
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
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
sense at the end but for the most part
you’ll only have a notion of what is happening beyond the barrel of
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.
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
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.