Max Payne. Maximum pain. His name hides his destiny, never to find peace, to lose everyone he cares about, constantly to be in pain and always be on the edge of life and death. This is the tragic story of the title character of the revolutionary Max Payne.
In one faithful night, everything he loves is gone in a blink of an eye and the world around him crumble. Arriving home he find his baby daughter and wife killed by junkies, under the influence of a new found drug on the streets of NY, called Valkyre or just V. After the funeral Max transfer to DEA and goes undercover, determine to find where the drug comes from. Only two agents, Alex and B.B. knows who he is. Three years later, Max finally have break on the Valkyre case. He recieve a messege from B.B. to meet Alex. Max have a bad feeling about this and he wasn't wrong. Alex get killed and he takes the blame for the murder. With nothing left to lose, Max takes the path of vengeance. He is been chased by everyone – police, mobsters, freaks and so on. This wild chase is happening in the middle of huge winter storm, as if it comes end of the world. From here follows twist and turns, betrayls, meeting with insane villians, bad guys helping you with information, corruptions, blackmail and so on. The story is one of the best things here. It's written by Sam Lake, who is the face of Max. The script is full of metaphors and references to scandinavian mythology. It's brilliantly written.
Cutscene are great and original. They are looking like graphic novel with neo-noir vibe and the voice of James McCaffrey make them even more memorable. Because of the moderate budget, Sam Lake is the face of the main characters and friends and colleagues are other people in the game. The cutscenes are filled with the inner monologs of Max, from which we find out the story and his mental state.
Even so many years later all this is still kind of impressive. But what is most memorable and revolutionary is in the gameplay section. The thing i'm talking about is bullet-time. It gives you more time to react and make more accurate shots. You can see to the silhouette of Max an hourglass. There is shown how much bullet-time you have. With a press of a button everything slows down and you can even see where the bullets fly. If you dive in it takes little part of it, so you have to decide how to use it. The hourglass drains quickly and the only way to fiil it is to kill enemies without using bullet-time. You have to use it wisely, because slowing down time is essential for reaching the end. The game is highly inspired by Hong Kong action movie, especially those of John Woo.
The game is old school and doesn't have regenerating health. You restore it by the most logical thing for the game – painkillers. You find them in spread around the levels. Sometimes they are not in obvious places.
The feeling of using bullet-time and blast through small group of bad guys is awesome.You are almost invulnerable. But you are not. Max life is fragile and even on the lowest difficulty, you can die in a blink of an eye. The game is hard, but fair. She will kick your ♥♥♥ right from the start and ask do you want more. Most of the times when you die, it's player fault. Some enemies are cheaply placed and you don't have enough time to react. So quick save is alway an option. I don't want to know how is in the higher difficulties.
Max have substantial, but fairly standard arsenal of weapons – pistols, shotgun, double barrel shotgun, assault rifle, uzi, granade launcher, granades, sniper, Molotov and my favorite – Jackhammer. In close range is irreplaceable. The only weapon i don't like is the shotgun. The reloading speed is slow and i often die, when i use it. Here you can find one interesting and innovative thing. When you shoot with the sniper, the camera follows the bullet. Sound familiar? Few years later this will be the main feature in Sniper Elite.
The level design is awesome. They fairly diverse – abandone buildings, harbor, mansion and so on. Some places are even turn in to a brothel. There you can see, especially in the abandon buildings, the darkside of NY. The atmosphere is dark, grimm and depressing, particularly when you see the consequences on people using Valkyre. Death is above them and waiting to collect their souls. There are other more bright places like mansion, skyscraper and so on. But there heavily armed men are waiting for you. There are two different level. Little anoying to navigate, but they are not long. They are dreams, representing the mental state of Max, his fears, desires and the guilt he feels all the time. Dark and confused like himself.
The graphics are bad, but it's 14 year old game. This is the biggest problem here. Human models are not pretty to look at and not different enough. When you take in account release date, modest budget of 3 milion dollars for four years and the small Remedy team, it's not suprising. But in the end the game sold 7,5 million copies.
14 years later the sound design is still impressive. Guns doesn't sound bombastic, they are not too loud. When using pistol, you hear pistol.
The voice acting is fantastic. Even people with small roles are doing great job, but most memorable is of James McCafferey. There is an actior voicing one of the bosses, lunatic using V, can make you shiver, when you hear him talking.
You will remmember the music in Max Payne, especially the singnature music theme. Deep beat, followed by piano and little bit later guitar and drums can be heard. All this sets the mood for the sad and dark story of Max. The others are also good. Energetic tracks with pinch of tension in the style of 80's action movies. Some places don't have music playing and this just adds to the atmosphere. Phenomenal soundtrack. When you consider the budget of Remedy, all of this is incredible. Modern games should take a notes.
This game is classic and everyone have to play. It even run great on Windows 7. You have the feeling you are in John Woo movie, where hero pour a rain of bullets and skillfully avoid them. Despite that the graphics didn't age well, every person have to see the roots of this series and the beginning of bullet-time. It doesn't matter how other games call it. The foundation is laid here. The story and gameplay are still great. Fantastic soundtrack, great and inovative gameplay, original and interesting cutscene, superb action. Here is also laid the foundation of one of the most beloved games from me – Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. I highly recommend it.