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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
9.2
Visuals
9.5
Audio
9.5
Gameplay
9.5
Features
9.0
Replay
8.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Rockstar Games
DEVELOPER:
Remedy
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
November 25, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Mature
IN THE SERIES
Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3

Max Payne

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

More in this Series
 Written by Nick Doukas  on February 12, 2004

Second View: Love and a .45?


Max Payne 2 is a brilliant follow-up to Remedy's smash hit shooter, and it's everything fans could hope for. While it doesn't really break any new ground, it does what it sets out to do perfectly, and ups the moody violence of the first game to insane new levels. Read on to find out why you must play The Fall of Max Payne?.


MP2 picks up with Max having resigned his DEA post. He's back on the streets of New York, pounding the beat and trying to put his haunted past behind him. In an interesting story twist, the game starts much later in the adventure, then jumps back to the beginning. Once again the narrative is superbly crafted, capturing the dark cinematic noir quality of the original. There's a sinister new force in town, and it's up to Max to get to the bottom of the mystery. Who's behind "The Cleaners", and what do they hope to accomplish? Mona Sax, an enigmatic figure from Max's past (who you'll actually get to play as during a few sequences) as well as Vladimir Lem (Max's "brother in arms" from the first title) both figure prominently this time around.


Max controls perfectly, and doing all of the various cool John Woo-inspired moves instantly becomes second nature. You'll move and strafe with the left thumbstick, and aim with the right. Crouch by clicking in the left stick (ducking down behind some cover will save your ass more than once by the time you're through - trust me), and fire using the right trigger. Pull the left trigger to shootdodge, and jump using A. Use the black button to reload, and the white button to ingest painkillers to restore Max's health. Finally, press the B button to toggle on Bullet Time, which the developers have revamped for the new game. As Max sweeps into a room in BT, the more enemies he takes out, the more his speed increases. Max moves in real time, and enemies remain in slow motion. As you can imagine, this makes for some incredibly intense shootouts. Crazy stuff straight out of a Hong Kong action flick; Diving into a room full of thugs with two fisted guns blazing, tearing past goons as you shotgun them to pieces, and all other manner of inspired lunacy. Good stuff to be sure.


Once again, Max has a serious arsenal at his disposal. This includes Dual 9mm pistols, a sawed off shotgun, and the MP5. Other guns are available to grab from your foes once you waste them, and the assault rifles in particular pack a hell of a wallop. You can clear a room full of mobsters in no time with the firepower they provide.


Max Payne 2 looks simply stunning. The appearance of the character models is much improved from the first game, and the dreary environments of the New York underworld are wrapped in perfect, razor-sharp textures. The weapons fire looks great, with spot on muzzle flares and realistic looking bullets whizzing by your head in slow motion. The game also employs rag doll physics to absolute perfection. Enemies fly back against walls, slide down stairs, and generally crumple into realistic looking heaps of death every time you unload a magazine into them. Add to this exceptional lighting and the ability to shoot objects off of shelves, or blow up an ammo barrel and send adversaries sailing through the air - while completely on fire -- and you've got one realistic shooter on your hands.


The sound is just as solid, with excellent (if somewhat melodramatic) voice acting, atmospheric ambient noise, and the booming sounds of small arms fire oozing into every nook and cranny of your mind. All of it adds up to complete immersion in the game world. The music is well implemented, and features Late Goodbye by Poets of the Fall, a fitting song to be sure.


Max Payne 2 introduces some great game sequences, and the story takes hold of you from the opening cinema. Cut-scenes use the in-game engine beautifully, and smoothly transitions to player control well. The graphic novel panels are back, and once again do an excellent job of getting the story across. A few of the wacky dream sequences from the first game return, but they're far less frustrating this time out, and add some creepy ambience to the proceedings. Once you beat the game on the normal difficulty setting (Detective) you'll unlock the Hard-Boiled mode, as well as Dead On Arrival, New York Minute, and Dead Man Walking. These challenge modes are fun, and add serious replay value to the title, which is good, since MP2 clocks in at barely 8 or 9 hours. However, those 8 or 9 hours are some of the most intense gaming you've done yet, and truthfully, I'd rather have a pitch-perfect shorter game, than 25 hours of boring repetitiveness.

Bottom Line
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, is an intense experience that shouldn't be missed by any fan of shooters. Amazing graphics and sound, a great story, and fantastic characterizations put MP2 at the top of the heap. As you play, you truly feel like the hero of an action film, and it's this attention to cinematic presentation that sets Max Payne 2 apart from other, less ambitious adventures.


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