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Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne PC CD-ROM

Published by Rockstar Games
Developed by Remedy
Released: Out Now
Price: £34.99

It is now common knowledge that the games industry makes more money than the movie industry. Gaming is, for the most part, now seen as an accepted form of entertainment. For so long pc/console gaming has been thought of as an activity that was far removed from other forms of entertainment. Several titles over the last few years have taken the gaming experience and made it more movie like. One of these titles, Max Payne, was as gritty and engrossing as most movies. Now Max Payne 2 has arrived and it's plainly obvious that Remedy have made this sequel even more movie like than the original game.

With the gruesome events of the first game apparently behind him, and with the constipated grin now removed from his face, Max is once again back on the NYPD. Of course it's never simple with Max and on a routine murder investigation he encounters a woman, named Mona Sax, who was supposed to be dead. There are many questions to be answered for Max and it seems that the answers lie with Mona. The game's story is once again gritty, mature and underneath the mystery, there is a romance between Max and Mona. At no point is the story ever clear cut and you'll have to play through the game, maybe more than once, to understand many of the games twists and turns.

You've probably played the first Max Payne game but if you haven't a little description of what makes the series so special, is in order. Max Payne is a third person shooter (that is to say the camera is positioned behind Max ) but for all intents and purposes it plays just like a first person shooter. Max has a few tricks up his sleeve. He can use Bullet time, a process of putting everything in slow motion whilst he can shoot and kill more enemies than would be normally possible. He can also dodge the bullets that are fired at him in slow motion, which is known as shootdodging. Both shootdodging and bullet time look very stylish and are features which further increase the movie feel of the Max Payne series. In fact bullet time has been improved for Max Payne 2 and Max can slow down his enemies even more. The quicker he takes out his enemies the slower those remaining will become whilst Max remains at the same speed to give him an even bigger advantage. Of course you'll have to maintain Max's health and just as in the first game, you'll have to search for pain killers in order to improve his health.

If I had to pick a fault with Max Payne 2 it would have to be with the length of the main game. Amazingly you can play through the whole game in just 5-7 hours. Before you form a bad opinion of this though it's worth noting that most games of this nature have around 2-3 hours of good mission/levels and the rest is usually padded out by mundane levels that are actually very flat. Max Payne 2 doesn't really have these flat/boring moments and is top action all the way through and will undoubtedly hold your attention. You also have to factor in the additional gameplay modes when considering the value for money aspect. After you've beat the game the first time, you'll unlock another game mode called Hard Boiled. Hard Boiled is the same as the normal game except the enemies don't scale to your ability and are always at their toughest. Once Hard Boiled is completed you'll have access to Dead on Arrival. Dead on Arrival is similar to Hard Boiled except you now have a limited number of saves. New York Minute mode can be played when you've beat the normal game once. This is basically a kill against the clock mode where you have to kill as many enemies as possible in the time given. Dead Man Walking is the final mode and this is also available after completing the game once. This is a deathmatch game for you to take part in. There have already been some additional Dead Man Walking levels made available to download.

Max Payne 2 looks good, graphically speaking, but how good depends on the class of your graphics card. If you have a DirectX 9 graphics card such as a GeForce FX or ATi Radeon 9700+ then you'll experience superior effects, fancy pixel shaded textures and superb life like mirrors. If you have an older graphics card then you won't be able to see such niceties but the game still looks good. Bullet time now takes on a fantastic sepia tone which looks very stylish. Impressively the framerate is superb and uncommonly high for such a recent and good looking title. It's clear that Remedy wanted the game to be playable on as wide a ranging system specification as possible, which is brilliant.

Whilst the original Max Payne was OK for deaf gamers the cutscenes and comments from Max himself were not subtitled. Thankfully Remedy have gone to a lot more effort in this department for Max Payne 2. Subtitles have to be enabled but once they are, virtually everything is subtitled. The game still uses the storyboard sequences between missions to explain the story and these are fully subtitled. All of the cutscenes and Max's comments to himself are shown in text too. Walk into a room with other characters, or a TV or radio that is turned on, and the speech is once again subtitled. At times Max will hear voices from the past and these are not subtitled but overall it's a massive improvement from the first game and as a result it can certainly be classified as deaf gamer friendly.

Essentially it's a cracker of a sequel and if you like the original Max Payne you'll be very impressed with Max Payne 2. The game's only fault is its length but the quality of the levels and the interesting storyline means that its short length can be forgiven. The game doesn't have any flat parts or levels that feel like they are there to simply pad the game out and as a result it's a very polished and refined game that few third person/first person shooters could equal.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Engrossing plot, stylish graphics and great gameplay compensate for lack of length and makes Max Payne 2 a highly successful sequel.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Virtually everything is subtitled and Max Payne 2 is far more deaf gamer friendly than the original game ever was.