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Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Score: 91%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Remedy
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
The sights and sounds in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne once again convey the gritty, grimy world of a New York cop who consistently teeters on the edge of the law and reality. If you havent played the first in this series, Max Payne, you are in for a treat, albeit some of the storyline may be lost on you as this is a sequel (so go check out the section called Previously to play catch-up). The story is presented in the form of a dark, graphic novel - a film noir love story, as the tag line goes. It doesnt disappoint.

The in-game graphics and cut scenes are terrific, ripped straight out of an edgy detective novel. When parts of the storyline need to be explained, things will cut to graphic, novel-styled storyboards. Its a great gaming experience and the Max Payne series really lends itself well to this type of storytelling.

Maxs poignant one-liners are still present and the voiceovers are well done; however, the statements that enemies shout at you during firefights tend to get old quickly. Theres a limit to how much I can tolerate of Damn!, Crap, Die! and Take Cover! Thats about the extent of their repertoire.

Incidental sound effects such as sirens wailing in the night, phones ringing in the distance and televisions that pop on and broadcast creepy shows all help to immerse you into Maxs twisted and tortured world.

This sequel once again finds our hero, Max Payne, thrust into a grand conspiracy where he is forced to choose between following his role as a cop or taking things into his own hands. There are many twists and turns in this game, and I wont ruin the cool story for you by giving away too much. Suffice it to say that it is good. I also highly recommend that you play the first Max Payne before this one, so that everything makes sense, but it is not required, since they included a special feature so that you can catch up by viewing a story called Previously detailing the quick and dirty on the original Max Payne.

Throughout your gameplay, youll encounter little weird occurrences such as entering a room with a TV broadcasting some psychotic show or a wacky, late-night porn show. Phones will ring that you will have to answer. Youll bump into a trash can or a desk and it will go clattering around. Details such as these make for a very unnerving experience. You truly feel as though you are snooping around an office in a dank warehouse, and that at any moment, someone will blow your head off. This is what the Max Payne experience is all about. However, its not all peaches and cream. Interaction with all of those little bits of the environment can be quite irritating. Ok, so the first time you bump into an object and it goes banging out of the way, it is cool. However, after it happens over and over, it grates on your nerves.

But there is plenty to love in Max Payne 2. Theres a great storyline that is woven throughout Maxs trial that includes the usual love, hate, betrayal and madness. There are plenty of wacky characters and some great weapons and ammo to use. Captain Baseball Bat Boy! Maddening levels like the fun house set of an old, crazy movie series play with your mind in true Max Payne style, and of course, the dialog is filled with Maxs poignant one-liners and the foul-mouthed rantings of his enemies.

Besides the basic story mode, you can also open up other modes of play after beating the game on Detective setting, such as New York Minute and Dead Man Walking. In New York Minute, your goal is to complete each level within the time frame allotted at the beginning of the level - one minute. Every enemy you kill adds a few more seconds to the clock. Dead Man Walking is just you against hordes of enemies in a particular area. Enemies respawn at growing rates of speed and it is basically a test to see how long you can survive. These are fun diversions, but the real meat of the game lies in the story mode.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne has three levels of difficulty: Detective, Hard Boiled and Dead on Arrival. Detective is the Normal difficulty. After completing the game on Detective, you unlock the ability to go back to each chapter of the game and replay it, should you desire. You also unlock the next level of difficulty, Hard Boiled. By then beating the game on Hard Boiled, you open up the hardest level of all: Deal on Arrival. In Dead on Arrival, you are only allowed 4 saves per chapter, and the difficulty is definitely ramped up. At least you can work your way up slowly by beating the other two difficulty levels first.

Game Mechanics:
The overall control of Max Payne 2 remains the same as it was in the original Max Payne, that is, using your Left Analog stick to move Max about, and the Right Analog stick to look around. It works quite well for this type of game. The weapons selection interface is not the greatest as it pops up over the top of your screen, and it shows all the possible weapons you can have for that area, even if you are out of ammo for them. Just load up your guns before you get into a major fight and it shouldnt trouble you much. You also have the ability to load up a secondary weapon such as grenades to have handy, just in case.

While playing Max Payne 2, I did notice some instances where the game would lag. And no, I am not talking about Bullet Time. But of course, Bullet Time is back again, and its a very useful tool to use when you are in the middle of a bad firefight. Max builds up Bullet Time with every enemy he kills, so you cant use it all the time, but its cool to watch. He can also shootdodge during Bullet Time, and its always fun to watch Max pull a John Woo type move, all jumping sideways across the screen, double guns a blazin.

The camera works well and doesnt interfere at all with the job Max must do, so thats a huge plus. Load times are a little on the slow side, but overall, it wasnt bad.

Basically, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is a great game. Yes, its a sequel, so it doesnt pack the punch of the original. However, great storyline, cool graphics, lots of guns and action and the possibility of another sequel (based on the ending, anyway) says its a winner. If you were a fan of the first one, go pick this one up and keep the story going.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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