The Game Slush Pile

Max Payne Xbox Retro Game Review

Release Date7/23/2001
DevelopersRemedy Entertainment
PublishersRockstar Games

Unlike most of the games I review, you might have heard of Max Payne. This incredibly popular game spawned two sequels and a feature film. I’m doing it because while I love reviewing obscure stuff, nobody reads stuff about obscure games, so I’m going to have to throw in popular stuff. Anyway, Max Payne is a gritty Noir action game featuring a man who lost everything going on a one man crime war. I played through most of it on release on PC, only being stopped on the second to last level by a bug. And I remember it pretty well.

Happy days end in stories such as these.

So Max Payne is a cop who loses his wife and baby daughter to druggies strung out on a new designer drug called Valkyr or V. He transfers into the DEA and goes undercover in the Lupino crime family who was dealing the drug. Things naturally go under and he becomes a one man killing machine, all while providing commentary in a gritty voice during comic book-like cut scenes.

Shooting addicts is fun, but optional.

Max Payne itself is a fairly standard 3rd person action game. You run down corridors shooting bad guys, occasionally finding keys to locked door or solve very simple environmental puzzles(like shooting a boiler to open a hole in the floor to proceed). The game however, revolves around Bullet Time. It is a mechanic by which Max can slow down time for a long as the bullet time meter is active. This is critical because it allow Max to essentially dodge bullets. You will need bullet time as later on you’ll be facing entire rooms full of guys packing machine guns.

And this brings us to the video, which demonstrates bullet time and the game play flow in the first part of the second level:

Max Payne’s Legacy

I enjoyed Max Payne back in the day, and still enjoy it today. We no longer really get single player action games like this, or heroes like Max Payne. Max may be a one man army, but he only shoots bad men. He doesn’t attack innocents(except the optional crazy addicts) or women at all(with one notable exception, which I won’t spoil). He exudes a type of masculinity that is sorely lacking in today’s entertainment, and is therefore is as captivating as ever. Of special note are the comic-book cut scenes with Max’s commentary. They drive home the gritty Noir style of Max Payne. His voice actor did one amazing job.

Should you seek out Max Payne? Yes, you should seek it out. The game is a classic and isn’t all that expensive. Also be aware there was a 2D game boy advance version that I played and honestly, was pretty good.

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