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Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC) artwork

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC) review

"In Max Payne 2, about a third in, there's a bit where you, as the melancholy detective, sneak into the home of an informant in the murder case you're investigating. "

In Max Payne 2, about a third in, there's a bit where you, as the melancholy detective, sneak into the home of an informant in the murder case you're investigating.

It's night.

It's raining.

The howling gale fades to a muted whisper as you leave the balcony and enter the stylish apartment. In the lounge, designer furniture sits in still darkness. On occasion, lighting pulses. The storm pounds the windows. It's... atmospheric.

You proceed to search for the dwelling's tenant. The well-tuned, responsive controls serve you well; wandering from room to room is as simple as you'd expect.

Finding no-one, you move to search upstairs; the moment you set foot upon the first step, however, voices drift down from above. A careful glance up reveals a group of men in the pristine kitchen upstairs, chatting idly about what you know to be their business: contract killing. It seems they got to the snitch before you did.

Not a man of stealth, you decide it's time for action. Slipping a pair of sleek Beretta pistols from your fine leather jacket, you take mouse-aim at the closest assassin, who jabbers blissfully at the top of the stairwell. A left click, and a maelstrom of lead tears into his back. He dies instantly, spraying crimson across the immaculate wallpaper.

The room explodes.

Fearless, you storm in. The smart hoodlums quickly disperse; one roars orders, some seek cover, while others rush you head-on, unloading their own automatics. Glass shatters and plaster disintegrates as bullets sail wildly through the room, convincingly shredding the decor.

They may have the numbers, but you have your own advantage: Bullet Time. Activated by your casual tap of Shift, it bleeds the velocity out of the world, and with it, the danger. The men and their bullets are brought to a crawl, as are you while diving artfully through the air. Your aim, however, remains swift, allowing you to take atom-precise mid-air shots at heads and hearts.

As you hit the carpet, the pace returns to normal. The change is all too fast for the cleaners; bullets that previously drifted lazily through the air are now suddenly in their eyes and spines. The once-strong gang of henchmen now stagger and trip to the floor, slumping against the furniture, leaking red onto polished wood. You breathe out as the adrenaline fades and your BT meter recharges. Happy for the metal threat to be replaced by ragdoll corpses, blood, and realistically-overturned chairs.

Your relief is tempered, however, by the knowledge that, in mere moments, you will be shooting people again. And again and again. For pretty much ever.

For this is what Max Payne 2 is. It is about moving through beautifully-realistic, story-driven levels, shooting impressively-capable criminals, while they try to shoot you back. It features nothing else. It is perfect in it's implementation of this theme.

There is little else to be said of the game.

If you can reap endless entertainment from hyper-kinetic shootouts; from dancing between comfortingly-cool slow-motion and frenetic real-time while trading lead with ugly henchmen, then MP2 your game. If, however, balletic carnage is a theme that sounds yawn-inducingly tiresome to you, then the 15-odd hours worth of noirish detective story offered here won't thrill you in the slightest, and the replays and survival modes will be torture.

Because it will always be night.

It will always be raining.

And you will always be shooting.

If you enjoy these things, then reload and continue; Max Payne 2 is your best game ever.

autorock's avatar
Community review by autorock (July 15, 2004)

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