Max Payne (PlayStation 2, 2002)
Max Payne is a thriller shooting game, a genre that I am not usually a big fan of, but when I first discovered it sounded so innovative and worthy of the praise that it received that when it was released on the PlayStation 2 after being a success on the PC I wanted to play it. I eventually got Max Payne as a present for my 20th birthday and I became intrigued by the game from the start, and it definitely took my mind off the shock of not being in my teens any more.
Max Payne is a fugitive undercover detective in a blizzard-hit New York who is out to avenge the death of his wife and daughter, and feels that everyone is out to get him. He is not very happy about this, and you can definitely sense that. The various bleak situations are told in the style of a graphic novel which is a great way of moving things along in the story and explaining what it going on in Max’s mind.
The main innovation and selling point in the game is “bullet time”, where as you shoot you can make time slow down and change the angle. This definitely is very effective, but its inclusion did divide critics somewhat, insisting that it proved the game was something of a one trick pony and repetitive, but I did enjoy the feature myself.
There lots of locations in the game, and Max is always after the dodgy bad guys, whether they be in manky hotels or subway stations. Max can also use a wide variety of weapons to finish people off. One thing I noticed about the game is that Max can interact with various things, such as watching the television, spinning a roulette wheel, or pressing buttons in a lift.
One thing that amused me about the game at the time (although I don’t think it was meant to be funny) was when Max enters a toilet. After shooting everyone in sight, Max can actually flush the toilet. It just amuses me that in the game’s development, someone must have insisted that to maintain an element of interactivity and realism those toilets better be flushable. I’m sure I even read a magazine article once wondering why all toilets in games seem to be flushable.
Max Payne went on to have a couple of sequels released, although I haven’t ever played them myself, and the first game went on to win various awards, including a Bafta. Max Payne was even turned into a film in 2008 which starred Mark Wahlberg and was loosely based on the first game. The response from critics to this film was rather mixed but I didn’t mind it.
Another thing that a lot of people find unintentionally amusing about Max Payne is the expression on Max’s face throughout the game, leading many critics to describe him as seemingly being “constipated”. His taste in shirts is rather dubious too. I do remember in a review of the film one critic said that Mark Wahlberg played the role as if he was constipated. I don’t know they were aware that many games critics have always thought this, so if that was how he intended to play the character then it seems that he got it just right. I think that Max Payne is a great games character, a guy with a grudge against the world and a bowel problem.