Max Payne (PC)
The single best action shooter that's being sold right now on the PC. That sentence sums up the incredible game that is Max Payne. More than a game, Max Payne has an intricate, often clichéd, story that makes it play more like a big budget movie than a computer game. The experience you get is unprecedented the action-shooter genre, so with all that said, I'll tell you why.
Visually, Max Payne is awash with details. Playing with most of the optimizations on will make you truly appreciate all of the time the folks at Remedy put into making this game. Hi-res textures, high polygon counts, bullet holes filling the walls, and even realistic modeling and texturing on the bullets themselves make Max Payne one of the better looking games out there. This is true <<(in spite)>> of the dull, uninspired outdoor environments. The smallest details are the best parts; you can turn on certain televisions, and you'll get an actual television show complete with sound.
At the heart of the game are its solid gameplay mechanics, which are extremely complex. Max Payne is a third person shooter at heart, and plays much like other games in the genre -- albeit with better controls. However, there's one unique element that sets this title in a class by itself. This effect is called "Bullet Time," and you've probably heard about it or s en it in action.
Taking a cue from those slow motion effects John Woo is always using, Max has the ability to slow time in his favor. It's a bit hard to explain. Max can dodge bullets and aim in real time during "bullet time" mode, but his enemies can't. Sounds cool, doesn't it?
Speaking of sound, the voice acting is another area where Max Payne shines. These actors sound pretty convincing compared with a lot of other video game voice acting. Also, the banter between some of the henchmen and mobsters before you get the jump on them is absolutely hi hilarious. This is one of those games that I always remember to turn the volume up on the speakers. As for the atmospheric noise and the music, I didn't really pay much attention to that -- I assume it was average.
The story and cinematics play a big role in the game, and it's better for it. Top quality writers must have been put on this project. The plot goes something like this. Max's wife was killed three days before the game's story begins. He transfers from the NYPD to the DEA to try to catch her killers, junkies strung out on a new drug called Valkyr. Three years later, Max gets a break the V case and goes undercover in the mob. The only person who knows Max's true identity, and Max is left with both the mob and the police after him.
What didn't I like? I'll keep this short and sweet with a list:
1. The amount and metaphors cliches Max uses in narrating the story. If you've played the game, you know what I'm talking about.
2. The drab outdoor environments. It's supposed to be the worse snowstorm in NYC history so things should look bad, but these exteriors are definitely not on par with the game's visually superior interiors.
3. The amount of names in the story. I had to go back through the story more than once to figure out who are character was.
The Bottom Line: All Payne, all gain.
You thought I was done? Before you close your browsers ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to point out that I have one incredibly large gripe with Payne. At the start of each of the three chapters, there is a level that serves as exposition. These three levels all have to do with exploration and some elementary puzzle solving, (no enemies or shooting) and they're agonizingly boring. I'm still trying to figure out though if they are more boring than they are long. After being stuck in one of these levels for a solid 30 minutes, I quit the game and considered giving up all together. Whether or not this puts any weight on the games score is up to you.