A relentless classic, Max Payne is a film noir masterpiece
Even after eight long years, Max Payne still remains as one of the finest third-person shooters ever made. With it's thrilling mature-themed story, over-the-top "film noir-style" presentation and awesome, fast-paced gameplay--Max Payne still holds up as one of the greatest games of the decade for the PC or even in the history.
When the original Max Payne was released way back in 2001, it was widely considered a big success. Basically, for many reasons...
Throughout the game, you play as NYPD detective, Max Payne, who's living the American dream with his wife and baby daughter, until one day everything turns sour as Max arrives home to find them both brutally murdered. From there, Max begins a hell of an adventure in onder to find the truth--and to get revenge.
Once the initial graphic novel sequence passes, the first thing that immediately draws attention is the mouth-watering visuals. The adherence to realism and meticulous detail is simply amazing. Max Payne was pioneer in the use of destructible and interactive environments. For example, you can interact with the environment in numerous ways, you can turn on a vibrating bed, play a piano, get a drink out of a soda machine, turn radios and televisions on and off, look through hidden cameras, etc.
The story is told through comic-book story boards, with Max brilliantly narrating in the background. They're vibrant without being too colorful to detract from the game's dark, brooding atmosphere. You can also learn about a wide variety of characters (mostly enemies) who are brought to life through the wonderful graphic novel interface. Those comic-style panels narrate the game in a way that a cinematic can’t, and the actual gameplay brings action sequences to another level of intensity.
Along with a superb presentation, the gameplay is the biggest highlight of the game. The introduction of bullet-time is executed exceptionally. It’s incredibly well done and extremely enjoyable to play. Max Payne was the game that introduced the concept of "bullet-time" (which has now been copied to death), and it's this element that elevates the shooting in the game from great, to legendary. Bullet-time essentially slows down time, giving you a better chance to dodge incoming bullets as well as shoot more accurately. The game does a very good job of implementing this mechanic without unbalancing the combat in your favor. Overall, Max Payne is a blast to play from start to finish with its addictive gunplay and action-packed gameplay.
The audio is also phenomenal, you can almost feel the bullets whizzing by your face as you enter new rooms filled with enemies. While in Bullet-time even the shooting slow down creating a very cool outcome. The sound effects, like guns, explosions, and just about everything else is all wonderfully done, and the infrequent use of the music is very nice and atmospheric. The voice work throughout the game is fantastic as well. Max Payne, who narrates the entire story, sounds like Humphrey Bogart in one of those hard-boiled detective stories. He delivers his lines without any emotion, but with plenty of style, which is most important.
In all, it is very difficult to find any criticism for Max Payne. This game deserves its place as an all-time classic. It's been the source of inspiration for many latter games (some great, others not so much), but as usual, the original always stands out. In the end, Max Payne is still a wonderful blend of intense action and stylized presentation that shouldn’t be overlooked because of its age. If you never played this game then you should. Don't miss it out. Also you should play the second game which has better graphics, sound and is equally outstanding.
Bottom line... Max Payne is a relentless classic, and belongs on the shelves of every serious PC gamer. It's gritty, atmospheric, and deliciously noir.