Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Review

posted 2/13/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Level design is top notch in the game offering some well rendered real life environments. The one level that I think that really shines out is the Funhouse. Walking through the Funhouse, you’re treated with various sites and sounds of a real funhouse that are impressively mimicked in the game. The rotating stars room actually made me a little motion sick. All the other levels in the game feature very realistically modeled locations. There are plenty of objects to interact with and plenty of areas where you’ll witness the Havok physics engine in action. From buildings to the streets, Remedy did a tremendous job at providing fun, realistic environments to wreck havoc in.

The levels wouldn’t be impressive if it weren’t for the texture quality. And make no mistake about it, Max Payne 2 has some very realistic textures that make the game look great. From the incredibly detailed brick wall textures to character maps, all the graphics are clean and crisp giving you a very beautiful picture.

If you were frustrated with the dream sequence or the exploding level from the first game, well they’re back in Max Payne 2. Thankfully, this time around they are a lot less frustrating. The dream sequences are done a lot better and the wavy graphical effect that is prominent in the level makes it very stylish. There are no blood trails to follow this time around and no dying from falling short of a jump. The exploding levels, yes there are more than one, are also a lot less frustrating and I found myself only needing one or two restarts to get though them.

Some levels need you to jump onto small beams or thin ledges. With the control of Payne, it can get rather tough and there were a few times I misjudged the jump only to have Max fall to his death. Using the Xbox controller also made the jumps a little more difficult as it does seem a little harder to produce smaller movements.

I did wonder why the game didn’t include the ability for Payne to climb ladders. Just like the first game, all the areas reachable through a jump, ramp, stairs, or elevator. I’m curious as to why the ability to climb ladders weren’t included in the sequel. Not that it’s that big of a deal, but many third person games allow for this.

You’ll be reloading often and it’s not that quick to reload saves. The game is tough with the AI doing some better tactics to try and take you out. There are also a few surprises that will cause Max to be blown away and have you waiting on the load screen. A few areas you will probably need multiple tries to get through and after the fourth time, it does get tiring. The game does auto save after chapters, something the PlayStation 2 didn’t do, so you don’t need too save as often as the other console version. Quick save is easily accessible with the back button. And a nice thing about this console port is there are no save points and you are allowed to save whenever you want as long as you have room on your memory card.

Speaking of load times, the game seems to take the long to load. It’s not as bad as the PlayStation 2 but it still takes a while to load each scene. You can try to skip some of the cut scenes and comics if you want to but it’ll take you to a loading screen nevertheless. Either way, you’re going to wait.

Moving from mouse and keyboard to console controllers is a little bit of work but there are some in game help such as auto-aim and quick aim. The game is a lot more lenient on where you place the reticule and will usually hit the enemy if it’s near. Using the right analog stick to aim and the left to move should be familiar if you play a lot of console first person or third person games. After about 10 minutes of playing, I felt pretty comfortable and was able to go through the game and not worry about being off on my aim. If you are not happy with the controls, you can assign buttons to certain actions easily. You will not be as quick on the turns as you would with a mouse but you can turn faster by holding the left stick down while turning. It should give you more than enough speed to quickly turn around to face an enemy.

Improved graphics, great gameplay, and fun levels make Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne a great PC game and the Xbox port is done well. It is an incredibly short game and I feel should’ve been available to consumers at a more reasonable price. But then again, I felt the game would’ve dragged if it was too much longer. If you don’t have a PC and do own an Xbox and want to experience Max Payne 2, then you won’t be disappointed with the Xbox version. You won’t have the graphical control or the ability to use a mouse and keyboard, but the game is still pretty fun without the options.



B+
The better of two console ports, Max Payne 2 on the Xbox does give you good gameplay and good graphics without the problems of the PlayStation 2 port.


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