Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/23/03 | Genre: Action
2001 was a very good time for action games. In case you have already forgotten, 2001 was the year Rockstar brought gamers Max Payne. Playing through the perspective of Payne, players had to avenge the death of his wife and kid. The game also introduced the often immitated slowdown mode, Bullet Time. After a couple of years of waiting, Rockstar and the same development team behind the first game, Remedy, are back at it again in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
Max 2 picks up after the events of the first game. Payne is now a Detective for the NYPD and continues to find himself in one bad situation after another. For those of you who haven't played the first title, I highly recommend you picking it up. A new copy should be able to be purchased for about twenty bucks and you can probably find a used copy off ebay or at a local gaming store. The reason why I stress playing the first game is that you may a bit left out of the plot in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne if you are not familiar with the events of the first game. And for an action game, Max Payne 2 has plenty of plot for you to chew on.
Watching the story unfold in the Max Payne series is much different than other games. Instead of progressing through the story by watching standard CG cinemas, anime, or using the in-game engine to tell the story, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne progresses the story like a graphic novel. Each page has several windows that appear with voice-overs done to read the text that appears. The artwork on these pages is great and this is a much different way to tell the story than other games have done in the past.
The feature everyone loved from the first game, Bullet Time, has returned with a few changes. In the first game, players mainly used Bullet Time when jumping forward, backward, or to either side. While this can still be done in Max 2, I have found that this technique is not needed nearly as much. This time around, players will use Bullet Time before going into most gun battles. That is because Max now can move faster than his opponents while Bullet Time is active. Failure to use Bullet Time consistently will result in unwanted health being reduced. Since your health carries over level from level, it is important to conserve your health and pain killers (used to restore HP) as much as possible. To enable or disable Bullet Time, players simply hit the Bullet Time button and a hour glass slowly drains showing how much Bullet Time you have left. As you defeat enemies and aren't using it, the hour glass will fill back up.
Besides the new changes to Bullet Time, Developer Remedy has added a few things into the world of Max 2. During certain points in the game, you will team up with another character. For the most part they just follow you around and help destroy the enemies unless you speak to them and tell them to stay put. Besides the new allies, players can also see a big difference in the environment... mainly the physic engine. While every item is not able to be moved, quite a few items can fly around during the course of a big gun fight.
As you progress through each level, you will find that there is an auto-difficulty level. If you keep dying at a certain point, the enemies will move slower and you will locate more pain-killers throughout the level to keep your health as low as possible. This helps ensure that you won't get stuck at any portion of the game. However, just make sure you save and save often. You are allowed to save at any time from the pause menu. There is no auto-save features so it is a good idea to save at least at the beginning of every level. I would have liked to see Remedy include an auto-save feature though... at least at the beginning of every level.
While the Xbox version looks absolutely stunning, the PlayStation 2 version is lacking. This is due to the hardware being pushed beyond what it can do. This is a real shame and if you have access to an Xbox, I recommend you look at purchasing that version instead of this one. The environments, characters, and explosions are all life-life and realistic but on the PS2 they slow to a crawl and just aren't as polished as the Xbox version. Besides these issues on the PS2, the only other real problem with Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is the length of the game. Much like the first title, the fun ends entirely too soon. However, to help add a little replay value, players can go through the game up to two more times and increase the difficulty level each time. In addition to that, there is a new "dead man walking" feature that allows you to fight off wave after wave of enemies--trying to kill them all before they kill you.
While the game will take you under 10 hours to go through, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is one of the best action games I have played this year. I highly recommend the title. If you are a concerned with the length of the game, you can always rent it. However, you must experience the game. It is an experience you won't forget.