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

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

"Currently, on Max Payne. . . "

Currently, on Max Payne. . .

A man who once looked constipated with blind rage has since been run down. As the story goes, he left the DEA and returned to where it all began, his place in the NYPD. He was a star detective at one time, but things have changed. The prolific, camera-eye cases are now handled by one Alex Winterson, a middle aged woman who works at his side and who happens to have the perfect face for the picture tube.

His own face has become somber, cold. . . fearing and maladjusted. He was kidding himself that it was over. He was still alive, his family was still dead. It wasn’t over.

Fans of the first chapter of Max’s adventure will be happy to see most of the key players return, hitting the screen with the subtlety of a hammer twice as strong. Mona Sax: love interest; object of lust; plotting assassin? Vladamir Lem: ally; conniving foe; changed man? Vinni Gognitti: cowardly Mafioso; arch villain; underdog in need?

The list of familiar faces goes on in all of their lovably morose glory, and the reasoning behind Max Payne 2 is similar as before. To answer the nail-biting question: ‘Is this the end for them?’. Two things over the rest remain the same.

One: That question goes unanswered.

Several other things are notably different. The low-budget styling of the first entry has been greatly improved, this time opting for more washed out blues and grays than vibrant hues of red and orange. This gives most of the graphic novel segments a powerful two-tone look and feel that really convey grit and sadness across the gap.

A double-edged blade plays a significant role here. The game’s shooting mechanics have been reworked significantly – although it may not seem so at first. 'Bullet-time' is more elaborate and stylishly done in Max Payne 2. Cap an enemy and his surviving gunman friends become slower. With every deceased goon, Max’s senses slow down more and more, eventually allowing him to run and shoot at normal capacity.
This enemy handicap effectively silhouettes the hardboiled veteran of the force that our protagonist is made out to be, but as you can imagine, doesn’t do nearly as much the difficulty curve.

To make matters worse, Max’s trademark ‘Shoot Dodge' is now lengthier. His realistic diving collision with the ground is replaced with one that has a much more Hollywood vibe, that allows him to seemingly float for a few seconds at a time. The way he hangs in the air makes it drastically less challenging to pinpoint target your opposition. Pair this concept with the destructive range of a set of auto-pistols or an AK and you’ve got yourself what more often than not amounts to a surprisingly easy shootout. It goes so far that the trifling amount of "boss" encounters also suffer from this uneven attribute.

The second recurrence in Max Payne 2: There’s still a nightmare scene.

This time, though, his dreams are thankfully devoid of ridiculous platforming. In fact, other than in a few scattered sections, the worst of the platforming has been removed; that means more time pulling the trigger.

But. . . ?

I’m not trying to single out the way that Max Payne brings the film-noir style into the world of video games – there’s no room to naysay the man’s knack for sounding so hopelessly self involved and melancholy when there aren’t many other titles on the market to compare it to - because that’s fine. That mood, that sultry, pessimistic mood, is the reason why this one stays in my top ten list of past generation games.

But I warn: be prepared for a deeper devotion to its roots in forties crime dramas - the pace moves along rather slowly, broken up by long bits of inner monologue and emotional conversations. Intense firefights are still plenty in the mix of things, but now act more than before as a segue into the story’s numerous panelized storytelling moments and furrowed brow-inducing cinematics.

Payne and his journey into the sleazy depths of “Noir” York City will undoubtedly prove too slow and uninteresting for most of the younger crowd, but there is yet to be another experience quite like Max’s dilemma. If there were, I doubt that they’d be able to dethrone the pope of digital mope and bringer of vengeance extraordinaire, or come anywhere close.

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Community review by carcinogen_crush (July 16, 2007)

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