Max Payne Reader Review
Nearly ten year ago the snowy rain fell on Hull like all the angels in heaven had decided to colloquially urinate at the same time. And so opened this innovative action adventure for me: I had a weekend to kill, it was snowing outside, and I had no heating. I didn't want the intellectually intensity of a strategy game, nor did I want to frenetic multitasking of a RTS. With a blanket on my legs, I sat down and completed this game in 10 hours without even a toilet break. And the first thing I did? Began again. After a toilet break.
Max Payne pitches perfect progressive difficulty. Action games can shouldn't - in my busy world - kill you more than three times at the same point more than three times in a game. You shouldn't be slugging through a game with a face as pained as Payne's permanently constipated expression. Instead you should be smiling appreciatively at just how awesome it feels to burst horizontally through a door (in slow motion) and expertly twisting through your hips as you innerringly shoot three baddies with your John Woo pistols before time jolts back into the present and all three baddies fall down at the same time. Whump.
This is not a serious game, but it is seriously evocative. The weapons, even now, feel powerful. I can remember a scene where a baddie hideing behind an apartment door unfortunately proclaims that he intends to shoot you as you come in. He doesn't, but you should, expect to leap towards him while simultaneously opening said door while unleashing a full shotgun blast to his chest that lifts him several feet in the air. You can almost hear Chuck, I mean Max, saying, "not today bozo."
These scenes occur tirelessly throughout the game. Face an impossible situation. Engage bullet time (copied from the Matrix). Shoot all enemies. Read film noir comics.
While the game itself is not so serious, what should be a series consideration is the known (and ongoing) compatibility issues with steam. Unfortunately the download can open fail to name the weapons file correctly which can result in the game simply not starting. While I managed to get it work (on occasion) you cannot expect Steam to help you out on this one. Much better to buy on amazon.
Fortunately the game gleefully leads you on a deeply humorous (if a little silly) adventure once you have got the thing working. The dialogue between the baddies is priceless. Not to mention the subplot of the Lords and Ladies TV series - "My Lord! My Lady! My Lord!" - which goes on for about twenty minutes if you halt your carnage to watch the many analogue TV sets scattered throughout the game.
Take this game for what it is - a romping film-noir - and you'll find an outstandingly crafted adventure that is also a piece of gaming history.