One of the most important titles of the sixth generation.
The perfect revenge tale doesn’t ex-
December of 2001. I, was lucky enough to have received a PlayStation 2 gaming system for Christmas that year. I had asked my father for only one game to accompany it. A game, that I had eagerly been reading about in every monthly video game magazine since the earlier that year. No it wasn’t, Grand Theft Auto 3 but another Rockstar release, Max Payne.
The one thing I didn’t ask for, however, was a memory card for my Ps2. So, I spent the first few weeks of my brand PlayStation ownership playing the first few hours of Max Payne over and over again. Starting new, every time I turned on the console. So much so, that I can pretty much quote the first three hours of gameplay.
If you were somehow expecting this to be a bad review of this game, you might as well split now.
The reason I was able to play the title from the beginning so many times is how well paced the game’s plot unfolds. It’s short, simple and brutal. Explained in a New York minute. You were a good guy with a beautiful family. Bad guys killed your family. Now three years later your only thread attached to reality, your DEA cop-partner, Alex is murdered in front of you. Essentially starting a rage meltdown that turns you from undercover cop to mass murdering anti-hero.
It’s an overused trope. One of the most basic concepts of storytelling since the beginning of storytelling. Hell, I literally JUST COVERED a game that has a revenge plot and destroyed it. But sometimes, you just capture lightning in a bottle.
A lot of what makes the Max Payne series so fascinating and fun is Max Payne himself. Not necessarily his, Chow-Yun-Fat-meets-Matrix move set or time altering gunplay but just the way Max observes the fucked up universe that surrounds him. From his dead pan commentary to his hyperbolic analysis – the entire game adds poetry to brutality. Adding a level of maturity rarely seen in games at the time.
If I have to criticize it, it’s easy to complain about its controls. At times they can be so sensitive it feels like Max is on ice skates. Which can become a particularly bad time when navigating through the haunting dream sequences.
With the exception of that – naysayers could also add, that the gameplay becomes repetitive – and they wouldn’t be wrong but rarely is a third person shooter this fun, in my opinion.
The game series would continue to mature with each entry, exploring concepts of grief, loss, addiction, anger and remorse in an experience so uniquely it’s own it should be a crime for any gamer, new or old, to miss.
Overall: 97% PLATINUM