At first glance, Max Payne appears to be your typical third person shooter. Upon closer inspection, the game is anything but. The story line is a deep and twisted plot that will throw you for a loop each time you think you've figured out what's going on.
Welcome to OCA's first ever look at a video game. OCA has had Max Payne for a few weeks now and been wanting to bring out a review but decided to wait until we finished the game so as to give a better perspective of what you might come to expect. Lets jump right in.
Our hero, Max Payne, the New York cop, mourns at the loss of family to a couple of drugged up thugs and goes deep undercover to try and find the purpose behind their killing. Suspecting a relation to the new drug Valkyr or "V", Max goes on a killing spree and alienates himself from the life of righteous crime fighting that he once knew. He is now a Fugitive cop with nothing to lose....Everything ripped apart in a New York Minute....
Installation: Installation is pretty straight forward, however Max Payne comes with some steep system requirements. Which is actually refreshing for a change. Hell, we build systems to take on the biggest baddest games and applications, but hardly ever see any that make our PC's even break a sweat. Well, Max Payne will do that. One thing I like is how the game actually suggests a 3dMark2001 score for your machine in order to properly run this game. A score of 900 is an absolute minimum, while a score of 2200 or higher will guarantee smooth gameplay throughout. System requirements are as follows:
To date, I have yet to see a "Recommended" system requirements as high as Max Payne. I'm sure I'll receive mail telling otherwise, but whenever I'm in the store, that's one of the first things I look at. 700MHz!! Whew. You'll also notice the game runs on Win9x/ME and Win2k. A welcome option for those of us that have chosen to run the more stable Win2k. You'll also need a good little portion of your HD to load this baby up, right around 750megs or so for a full installation.
Here is the menu you will be greeted with upon insertion of the cd.
The first thing you'll want to do us update the game with the current patch which is version 1.01 and can be had HERE. Once your patched and ready to go, hit play and you'll get the startup screen as seen below:
Pretty straight forward, choose your settings and get to it. The game is very dark in nature and I did not notice much difference (if any) between 16bit and 32bit color. But hey, if your system can handle it, go for it. The prettier the better, and since there is no multi-player to be had, there is no worries that the "other guy" might be running it faster than you and have the edge.
You'll notice the options tab above and if you click that, it will bring you to this screen:
Another screen that will give you some more flexibility when trying to choose the best options for your particular system.
Alright, lets head on over to page 2 and checkout the gameplay.
Gameplay: When starting the game, you'll see the Main Menu.
The Tutorial is a great way to get right in and learn the particulars of the game. Most notably "Bullet Time" and "Shoot Dodging". It will also cover other stuff such as Movement, Combat and Using items, Opening doors...etc. It is very quick and does not take a lot of your time to complete, and when your finished, there is even an "Enemy Dispenser" to practice your newly acquired combat skills. Very nice.
As I said before, the storyline is great and is displayed through both graphics boards and cut sequences that bring you deeper into the story. The game itself actually plays more like a movie than any game I have seen to date. Back in the day when cut scenes were merely digitized video, this was a bad thing. However, Max Payne pulls this off in such a way, that you are more immersed into the storyline, not just an outsider looking in.
Multiplayer? Nope, not here. And for a change, I applaud this. In a day and age where multi-player games are a dime a dozen, Max Payne pays special attention to the single player aspect. The game is of course getting dinged for no multiplayer support, but again, I believe it is refreshing to see this amount of detail in a single player game. Here is Remedy's official take on the multiplayer question:
"Originally we planned out full multiplayer functionality, but as we went further into the project we started to have so much cool stuff that work great in single player but wouldn't work in a multiplayer game that we changed the focus to single player only. There's plenty enough good multiplayer games out there, but the single player genre needs great games as well."
Ok, lets touch on Bullet Time and Shoot Dodging. One of the coolest aspects of the game itself. Bullet Time is an option to slow the game into a "Slow Motion" type mode and really gives you the opportunity to think your next step through and make calculated and accurate shots on your surrounding enemies. Again, the "Movie" aspect comes into play in the same way you see a killer scene in an action movie (a la Matrix style sequences).You may think it is just a gimmick at first but you'll seen master the ability and it will help immensely when you have several enemies on the screen at once. Bullet Time will not last forever and there is a gauge in which you can see how much of it you have left. Shooting more enemies will replenish your supply of bullet time. Here's a shot showing what I've described:
It simply has to be seen to be fully appreciated. And what's also very nice are the death animations. When you get a real good shot in, the game will do a close-up of your enemy, panning the camera in a 360 degree rotation around him from the time he is struck by your bullets till he hits the floor and writhes in pain. A very cinematic and satisfying effect of the game. Infact, I caught myself replaying some scenes just to see the action once again. I can't express how cool this feature is. You'll be using the F5 and F9 keys for save, and load last saved game quite a bit. But be careful, don't save your game in an impossible scenario!
Another very nice addition to the game is interactivity. You'll notice you can interact with nearly every single item in the game. Hit the button on a soda machine and you'll hear and see a soda pop out and roll onto the floor. Push buttons on a cash register, switch a T.V. off and on, get water from a water cooler, type on a PC, and on and on. Ok, so some things get old after awhile, but it's this type of attention to detail that makes the game that much better.
Graphics: As I'm sure you've heard, the graphics are very good in this game. Far from the best I have ever seen but very nice. The game concentrates more on Max, his enemies and the immediate surroundings. The facial expressions are unmatched by any other game to date and give a nice touch of personality. If you pause the game at certain points, you'll notice Max's expression will match his current actions, whether they be bored, pissed off or firing rounds from his dual Ingram's.
The games engine looks great indoors, but when your outdoors, the sky looks terrible, reminiscent of the Quake II engine, and more notably, it bears a striking resemblance to KingPin, which is a tweaked version of the Quake II engine. Other than that minor flaw, the graphics are very striking at moments. Objects looks just as good close-up as they do from a distance. Billboards, signs and posters all look very nice.
Another added graphics gem is the surrounding environments. When you first start the game it is snowing. The effect is so realistic that you hardly even notice it. I know that sounds kinda weird but just like in real life, you pay it no attention and go about business as usual. Also in certain area's of rundown buildings, you'll notice drops of water falling from leaky pipes in the ceiling. Again, the effect is very realistic.
Sound: Here is where this game truly excels. The environmental sounds in this game is simply excellent! From voices of your enemies talking amongst themselves in the distance, to bullets whizzing by your head as your diving for cover and even the music get a little feverish as you approach a significant part in the game. The weapons sound very realistic and even simple things like opening a door or switching on a TV or hearing a telephone ring. This is the type of game I wished I had a fully 5.1 digital surround system to take advantage of the awesome sound effects.
Conclusion: Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the couple of weeks I have spent playing this game. Every time I fired it up, I was anxious to continue the saga and see what new and exciting stories opened up before me. I've seen quite a few folks say that this game is somewhat short but I would have to disagree. I played it for a few hours every other day for nearly 2 weeks and really had a good time with it, not feeling as if I was cheated when I finally finished the game. Now my intent was not to finish it as fast as possible, as I like to explore every avenue to see what the game truly has to offer, so who knows, maybe I'm on my own here.
If your looking for a satisfying 3rd person single player shooter that will immerse you in a world of crime, deceit and luscious graphics. Look no further than Max Payne. At $49.99 the price may be a little steep, but look around and you'll most likely be able to get a better deal than I did at EB. But when I saw this game, I just couldn't resist buying it without thought or reason, and I do not regret it at all.
Lets touch on games high's and low's to finish this off.
Immersive single player storyline
Top quality audio experience
New play modes after completion of fugitive mode
Cinematic Movie-like effects
Some folks may be turned off by the exclusion of multiplayer mode
Semi-Long load times between scenes
Hefty system requirements (a HIGH if you ask me)
And as far as Low's go, that's all I really could come up with for this game. Again, the storyline and gameplay just wouldn't do multiplayer justice, but some folks may be turned off by this aspect. I for one enjoy single player games, but this is a personal preference.
Finally, here are a gathering of screenshots to show you folks how nice the game looks. These pics have been shrank and converted to .jpg's but retain most of their original graphical value. Enjoy.
We'd like to thank you for joining us here at the OCA today and please send any flames, props or feedback HERE.
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