MAX PAYNE Tuesday 17 April, 2012

The New York cop with nothing to lose…except his sanity.

It’s about to get a resurgence in the form of an iPhone and android release and it’s got a new entry in the series coming in may, so I feel it’s time we look back at our grinning man on the edge- Max Payne.

First released on the PC in ye olde 2001 ( I think that’s right, I’m to idle to research it truth be told, but if it is wrong- do you care? If so write to points of view.) Max Payne took great advantage of something that was big at the time. Namely the Matrix movie (for there IS only one, followed by 2 spoofs)- by adding their own version of the jumpy slow down action called bullet time. This alone was enough to hook me to the game; slowing the action at just the right moment to see the bullet you just fired meet the eye socket of your assailant / innocent bystander and erupt accordingly into a red fountain. All while performing a potentially limb breaking dive around a corner onto hard concrete. Crisp. Anything else, such as a story, would have simply been a bonus.

But damn, did Max Payne have a story! Written by Sam Lake of Remedy entertainment, who also lends his likeness to the computer model of Max Payne. Due to limitations of the day Max is always plastered with an in nearing grin, which is a little too wide for what he’s had to deal with. What’s he had to deal with? Glad you asked:

Max is a detective in the NYPD and, like any detective in new York, he wears a bright Hawaiian shirt and a leather jacket so as not to draw attention to himself. He declines an offer to stay late and play poker with his work college, Alex, so that he can return to his wife and new baby girl. The American dream come true; his words. Seems the American dream is being nagged at to clean the house and being kept up all night by a screaming child, who knew? Upon returning home Max is greeted by an uneasy silence in his home. His phone rings and a mysterious woman caller confirms that she is calling the Payne residence before saying “I’m sorry but I can not help you” and hangs up. Dark. It’s about this time that you notice the massive “V” graffitied on the hall wall. Something is going down in china town. Grabbing his trusty beretta Max makes a bolt for upstairs where he hears a commotion coming from the bedroom. He hears gunshots along with his wife’s screams- but something is blocking the door from the other side. He makes his way into his daughters bedroom which adjoins theirs. There he see’s her, slaughtered in her cot….damn. I mean DAMN. This game means business, not ten minutes in and we’ve got dead baby. I don’t thing I’ve EVER seen a murdered baby in any game before or since. He then breaks through to his bedroom where he finds a junkie with a shotgun, who he quickly dispenses with, and his Wife, Michelle, shot dead on the bed. This game is not Fucking around. When the box said “New York cop with nothing to loose, they mean it, by because you just saw him loose everything right there.

Now I’m not a man to write a lengthy paragraph about a games opening for nothing. I feel it’s the only way you get to see what we are dealing with in this game. The rest of the story that follows is a dark and scary dive into New York’s Drug underground as Max tries to find the person responsible for his family’s death (I’d have pinned it on the junkie with a shotgun in his room, but hey, I’m not Max Payne am I?).

The game is played in third person, which is just as well really; otherwise the impressive bullet time jumping would just look like you were falling over, slowly, had it been in first person. You run around subway stations, seedy hotels and train yards gunning down everyone you see with tasty Ragdoll physics that means you spend countless hours trying to gun a corpse into a compromising position on a hotel bed. Damn everything sounds worse when you read it back, but believe me- it’s fun. I can’t bring myself to say too much more as the game is a bit of a mystery so its best to find these things out for yourself / have Internet walk throughs tell you.

There are loads of throw away bits in the game for you to discover, such as on some TV sets you pass will be playing episodes from a strange TV series with a pink flamingo…who says in backwards speak that “mirrors are more fun than television”. I swear to you most of the background stuff in Max Payne will make you question your own sanity. Especially the TV show “lords and ladies” which just involves members of the development team saying “my lady” and “my lord” back and forth. Now I come to think of it I’m pretty sure that’s where Downton abbey got its inspiration. Damn thieves.

Instead of FMV cutscenes or in engine ones Max Payne tells its main story in the form of a graphic novel- which is stunning, truly inspired. I would read the novel alone without the game in the middle! And that’s a bold statements because I love shooting me some junkies.

This was a game of my later childhood- the high school days and I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Sure the graphics haven’t aged so gracefully and some of the bad guys look like they broke out of a Taylor’s window display but it’s all part of the charm. The voice acting is superb, the story is tremendously gripping and the action is…action-ey. With Max Payne 3 coming in may there’s no better time to get your first dose of Payne- which you can get on the iPhone app store from the 12th April and in the android store from the 26th.

With all this, Max Payne would have made a great movie…

…except it didn’t.

….it blew balls.

….damn you Wahlberg.

Written by Brown from for geek&

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