Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Review

posted 1/30/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PS2
When we last left Max Payne, he just racked up a body count equal to a small third world country and sent Nicole Horne to a fiery death in a helicopter. It’s been a few years but he’s back to create more mayhem and unleash more bullets into bad guys. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne continues the bullet time action goodness and this time, the sequel does outdo the original. The version I am reviewing today is for the PlayStation 2 and what you’ll read here about the main game pertains to all versions of the game. I’ll get into the specifics of the port in a little bit.

The second game has come out with a lot less hype than the first one. In fact, it was pretty late in the game when it was announce at E3 and showing up on store shelves. To Remedy and Rockstar, I give them much credit for not making a big deal about the game long before it was finished. If you played the original, then the second game isn’t that much of a stretch. What Remedy did though was produce a very stylish game, refine the engine, and great levels. It is a very, very short game though and you can beat it in around six hours. But for those six hours, it’s a very enjoyable game.

Like the original, the game unfolds in a somewhat non-linear fashion. You’ll start out waking up in a hospital in a less than tip top shape. From there you’ll relive the past leading up to your current state and then finish in a stand off against the main bad guy. In between missions, you’ll be treated to the nicely drawn graphic novel cut scenes like the first one. This time around, you’ll also be controlling Max’s love interest Mona Sax. Mona’s a bad girl and she’s not shy about taking out anyone that gets in her way. Max, of course, is drawn to her naughtiness and spends most of the game chasing Mona around while uncovering twists and turns of the story. All the while, you’ll be unloading a small armies worth of lead into, well, a small army of bad guys.

Bullet time has some improvements in that you’ll be normal speed while everyone else slows down. The more you kill, the faster your bullet time reserve refills. Max and Mona do have this bullet time spinning dance that reloads your weapon quickly. I’m sure you’ve seen movies where a character decides too do a backflip or spin around for no apparent reason other than to look cool. Well, you get the same here but at least it reloads your weapon and it can be cool looking in the right situations. The bullet time dive is also back and will take out of bullet time when you land. It takes a little time to get up so if you have some bad guys still alive and gunning for you, you’re pretty much toast.

From the beginning, you can tell the graphics engine has gotten a nice upgrade. Gone is the annoying smirk on the face of Max. In place is a lot more realistic version with facial movements and realistic modeling. From the close-ups during cut scenes, you’ll see the impressive job Remedy did in improving the look of Payne. The improvement in Payne also translates to every other character in the game. Each model has greatly improved detail and better modeling when compared to the first one making them much more lifelike. The motion capturing also enhances the lifelike appearance of each character. The graphics on the PlayStation 2 is the worst of the three versions. Heavy jaggies from the little or lack of anti-aliasing makes the characters seem less lifelife. Along with the weaker graphics come a lot of slowdowns and bad frame rates even when no action is going on. It’s not all the time but there are more instances of it than there should be. The PlayStation 2 doesn’t have as much power as the Xbox or a PC and without heavy optimizations, you’re going to have a lot more instances of slower gameplay.
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