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Max Payne






When a man has nothing left to lose, he turns to the one thing that can make things all better: gratuitous violence.

Max Payne is not having a good life. First, he finds his Wife and baby daughter murdered in cold blood by 3 drugged up junkies. Then he gets framed for a crime he didn't commit and finds himself the turkey in the world's largest turkey shoot. Everyone wants a piece of him. The Mafia and the cops all have a target painted on Max Payne's forehead and so it goes. Max Payne is a mixture of pretty much every cop movie every made. Max Payne, the character that you control during the game is hodgepodge of the character Clint Eastwood played in Dirty Harry and the character that Charles Bronson played in Death Wish. The story is rather dark, so parents may want to keep this one away from the kiddies [Duh, that's why it's rated "M" - Ed.]. The story is played out in manga comic book style and it really gives Max Payne a unique look of all its own.

"... Max Payne is one of the most engrossing games released this year for the Xbox."

Max Payne plays in a third person prospective and the Xbox controller feels perfect for this type of game. You move Max with the left analog stick and you control where he aims and looks with the right analog stick. Left trigger performs the popular bullet time feature, which I will talk about a little bit later and the right trigger acts as the fire button. It controls pretty much like Halo so for those of you who played the PC version with the mouse and keyboard shouldn't have a problem picking this title up rather quickly.

If you were lucky enough to own a PC that could do Max Payne justice you will be very impressed that a $300 videogame console can handle the same game almost as well. The textures may not appear as clear as they do on the PC version but your much too busy dodging gunfire then to look at the floor textures. The lighting effects are also very well done, and I was impressed with the fact that when you shoot a wall the bullet holes stay because all of the environments are interactive. When you are in a gun fight you will notice your bullets hitting (and shattering) bottles, hitting a tv and causing it to explode, hitting a barrel causing wine pour out of the hole, all showcasing the detail that went into the game. Like Duke Nukem, Max Payne can interact with pretty much everything in the game. Have Max stand near a bed in a flea bag hotel and watch the bed vibrate for a little action. Call me weird but I made it a point to flush all of the toilets that I came across in the game. [Ok, you're weird. - Ed.]

The character models are somewhat blocky and the look on Max Payne's face is a cross between constipation and determination. The textures are almost photo realistic and really do a great job of capturing some of the prettiest looking city slums that you will ever see in a video game. The frame rate stays pretty consistent. There are only a few instances where you can feel the frame rate slow down. For example, late in the game you battle in a huge open area that has several sniping points for the enemies to shoot at you. When you look up the game does slow down a bit. But other than that, you wont notice it very much.

"... Max Payne can interact with pretty much everything in the game."

The Bullet Time feature is incorporated very well, and it really makes you wonder why it wasn't thought of before. The sounds of gunfire and the bad guys taking pot shots at you become almost muted. You're only able to use the bullet time in short increments and in order to fill your bullet time meter you need to kill the bad guys. Bullet time allows Max to aim and shoot in real time while the rest of game slows nearly to a stop. You can see bullets fly past you and it gives Max a serious advantage when is outgunned. It also allows you to do some great aerobatics. One example of this is when I was standing right beside a door and I heard the 2 goons standing outside the door waiting to ambush me. I pressed the left trigger and jumped towards the door. The 2 goons were facing towards each other, one on either side of the door, I shoot at the one on the right taking him out but while doing so he shoots at me but misses (since I'm moving in real time and he isn't) and hits his partner taking him out. Suckers

To help Max Payne take out the criminal underworld, he has a huge arsenal of weapons that he has access to. Shotguns, Sawed off shot guns, dual pistols, semi automatic guns as well as grenades and molotov cocktails. Max Paine can also come across painkillers to help restore his health.

The voice acting is filled with clichés at best and at worst is almost laughable. And there are times where the overacting becomes somewhat of a distraction. Take a look at this Oscar winning performance by one of the goons right before Max dispatches him to where ever drug crazed goons are dispatched to: "I am so cold, I don't think I will ever be warm again." It's melodramatic and at times it can take away from the believability of the game.

Unfortunately the game is over almost as quickly as it begins. Average players should be able to play through the game in about 10 to 12 hours. After defeating the game once there is little incentive to play again. Which is somewhat of a downer because the initial experience playing Max Payne is very satisfying.

Mike Regan
Fears the pink flamingo.

Max Payne: The Scores













The Final Word:  Despite being filled with tired cliches Max Payne is one of the most engrossing games released this year for the Xbox. It also has some of the best looking textures yet seen on the Xbox. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to play the PC version you might want to pick this game up. It is among the top 3 action titles for the Xbox.

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