"Welcome aboard the Payne Train!!! Again!!!"
A couple of years ago, the predecessor of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne changed my gaming habits with its unique and stylish game play, story and everything else. It converted me into a pc gamer for life!!! The first thing I did after finishing Max Payne 1 was to check if it had a sequel or not. Praying to the Gods of gaming, I clicked into the Max Payne website and with a sigh of relief, I found out that the sequel to the most stylish and coolest game ever made was already out. Not knowing that it was going to push Max Payne hard for the No.1 spot in favorite games list, I went ahead and purchased it.
The protagonist of this game, Max Payne, has been freed from police custody for whatever he did in the previous installment of the game, with the help of one of the characters he had made a deal with. Now, the entire world perceives him as some kind of a hero who helped the city in its fight against the unlawful citizens of the city. This game has been promoted as a film noir love story and it tries really hard to be one.
Like it has been said above, the story tries very hard to be a film noir love story. But, in the quest to make a film noir love story, the writer loses the humor that made the first game a classic. Somewhere down the line, you wish they had paid more attention to the humor side of the first game, and implemented it in the second one too. But the humor side apart, it's still good enough to be able to suck you into caring for the lead characters. You just can't help continue playing until you know what happens to them at the end.
The story of Max Payne, like the previous one, has been told through a number of cut-scenes and graphic novels (ala Sin City). The writer, though loses the humor, still manages to create an intense and dark atmosphere of the first one, which, in turn, keeps the players at the edge of their seat through out the length of the game.
But, there is a difference in the way graphic novels and cut-scenes have been implemented this time around. In the previous game, you were able to click on various items (including TV news, radio, telephones, etc.) through out the level, which triggered graphic novels. In this sequel, however, you can't click on anything during a level to trigger a graphic novel. Graphic novels are strictly there to begin and end the levels. Everything else during a level has been told in live action or cut-scenes.
Now, we come to the actual story of the game. His life in ruins, Max rejoins the NYPD. He is shown working under the guy who was chasing him in the first game!!! One night, responding to a distress call, he goes to make enquiries where he meets someone he thought dead, Mona Sax. And with her, comes back all his past ghosts to haunt him. This game also marks the return of a few more characters from the first game. It seems as if one of the underworld don, Vinnie Gognitti, has made a deal with some one high above. A hit has been put on Max Payne's name along with a few more people. He must now uncover the mystery behind it all, while confronting with the evils of his past.
What can we say about the game-play of max Payne??? It still remains the biggest highlight of this franchise. Like the previous installment, it once again has been incredibly well done and extremely enjoyable to play. With the return of the franchise returns the Bullet time and shoot dodge. These unique features make the game really stylish and fun to play. But, there have been some major changes to its key features like Bullet time, placement of painkillers, and the like.
Previously, bullet time was more useful when used with shoot dodge. Now, bullet time has been modified to complement standing and gunning people. It doesn't pay to shoot dodge since it takes a long time to get back up which always proves calamitous. Now, you can take on 5 or even more people at the same time with the help of Bullet time and standing up. If you try to shoot dodge while taking on so many people, you will always lose the battle. The screen goes yellow when you use bullet time in this game. The longer you use it, the more powerful you will become, since you will pick up speed with each passing second while your enemies will progressively become slower. Another new cool effect of Bullet time is the reloading style while in Bullet time. If your gun runs out of ammo while you are still in bullet time, then Max will bend halfway downwards and does a 360 degree spin. By the time you face the enemy again, your gun is reloaded. This feature, however, may become tiresome after a while.
Another new addition to the game play is the ability to play as another character in a few levels. You will get to play a couple of levels through Mona Sax's perspective, which blends perfectly with the storyline. Even when you play as Max, Mona will be there in a few levels to help you as a NPC. This helps the storyline too, by showcasing there relationship. There are other characters too who help you to kill enemies without you actually controlling them.
Even the environment contributes a lot to the game play. There are many explosive canisters lying about here and there which you can use to kill the enemies. There are places where you will have to blow some canisters to create a hole in the wall or the ground to progress further. They all look really beautiful too!!!
Then, there is this thing about the HAVOC ENGINE!!! The enemies will no longer fall in only three or four ways like in the previous game. The rag-doll effects in this game are amazingly life-like. The bodies of the enemies will fall in real fashion depending on where the bullets hit them. The movement of their arms and legs and other body parts will crash into things like they would in real life. They will get entangled into things and or hang from ceilings with their arms still flapping. It all looks wonderful in a combat.
You can even play with bodies by shooting it and blowing it up in the air. The game objects too are affected by these effects. If you crash into fans, crates, etc., then be sure that they will move and fall.
Enemy A.I.: 8.0/10
The enemy A.I. is nearly the same as the last one. They will again come after you once they spot you. Occasionally, they will camp in stead of following you. This does make for great combat set pieces though. But, it looks dumb when they hurl a misdirected grenade at you and then walk into it.
Quite easily, one of the most beautiful looking games out there in the market!!! The level textures and models all look really detailed and realistic too. The level designing is perhaps the best you will get to see over a long period of time. The buildings, explosions that send the bodies and walls flying, the burning effects of the building, blowing up of places, all pack a punch. It all looks so real and awesome that you spend a lot of time just looking at them. The explosions and flames all do well to lend themselves to creating a great and intense atmosphere in the game.
There is a wide variety of levels which all showcase the hard work and the dedication of the developers. No expanse has been spared. Right from the Police HQ, big Manors, decaying buildings and neighborhood, to the garage and a fun-house, etc. all look so detailed, that it's a crime not to stop and behold the beauty for a few moments!!!
Weapons, character models, weapon reloading, environment, etc. all look fluent and realistic. The Molotov and grenades, explosive canisters, smoke, thunder & lightning, create an intense atmosphere suited to the franchise. Carnage by bullets and explosions are permanent which can make any place look like a war zone in no time. The new Bullet time also add to the beauty!!! When in bullet time, the screen turns into a beautiful golden colour, a sight to behold!!!
The re-modeled characters and their clothes are all good too. They are all extremely detailed. Max now looks more real, and he looks like a man who has been through a lot in life. But, in lieu of creating a more believable Max Payne, the developers have lost the ever-so-famous grin of the earlier Max Payne, which is a pity really. The scars and cuts of the character remains with Max right till the end, which shows off the amount of hard work that's been put in.
The issue of death-animation restriction of the first one has been resolved here. The rag-dolls look great and more importantly, are convincing!!! But, another issue of lip-syncing for the characters still hasn't been answered in this one. They still look odd during cut-scenes.
The main theme of the first one has been retained, but it's been created using a different instrument which suits the film noir style more. It gives a feeling of the events as they unfold. It also does well to conjure up an image of the tragic protagonist, and creates a wonderful atmosphere. The combat music of the first one was better though. This game also has a very good end credits song 'Late Goodbye' by the 'Poets of the Fall', which easily surpasses any song ever heard in any game.
Like with the previous installment, the voice-acting is top-notch once again. The voice-over actors of the first one have been retained for the sequel as well. And they have done a great job of it too.
The guns, Molotovs, and grenades all sound realistic. The enemies yell a more variety of curses at you during fire-fights than in the first one, which add to the atmosphere. The breaking of walls, blowing up of buildings, screeches of cars, sounds of thunder & lightning, etc. all combine their forces to create an unbelievable aura of realism.
Even if you haven't played the first one, it won't be a problem to get into this game. This game is incredibly easy to control and operate. The features are very well implemented and the players find it very easy to learn the moves. You can also change the control set up for the game to any keys you want to.
This game can take you anything between 7-9 hours to complete in your first play through. However, this game has various difficulty modes to beat.
Like its predecessor, its game-play too is also very strong so that you can play it multiple times without getting bored. Once you beat the game for the first time, you can try to beat the game in higher difficulty modes, which are unlocked one-by-one as you beat the previous difficulty modes. The game has three difficulty modes which make the game progressively harder to beat. In addition to these three difficulty modes, it also has a timed mode to contain with.
In addition, there is also a new game play mode called 'DEAD MAN WALKING'. In it, you will have to kill re-spawning enemies who keep on increasing with time. Basically, you will have to survive for as long as you can. There are a total of six maps plus two more official maps waiting to be downloaded. Plus, there are hundreds of DMW maps made by fans of the series, which you can download.
The game has quite a few good mods for you to play. And the mod community for the Max Payne games has gained momentum off-late. So you can get a few hours game-play out of them.
This game is a worthy successor of a great game. A must-buy if you don't mind the short length of the game. It is a journey that will blow you away with its style and classiness. A game to last an eternity, spiritually!!!
Behold the beauty of Payne!!!
Taste the Payne!!! Again!!!