Hello and welcome to a three (or more if they make more) part series ranking the Max Payne games. I thought about just doing one blog for the rank considering there are only three games, but where’s the fun in that? You can find the ranking of this series over in the List/Rankings tab. Also, if you are wondering I am playing all of these on PC. So, let’s just jump right into it.
You are Max Payne, just another cop with a wife and kid at home. Well, that is until your wife and kid are murdered, followed by you joining the DEA and going undercover trying to get at the people who killed your family. A few months later, you are out doing your job when a close DEA ally gets murdered and you are blamed for it. From there, it is up to you to enact revenge on those who killed your family and your friend while avoiding the cops. Oh, and did I mention all of this takes place during the coldest night in New York history?
When it comes to the story, I actually quite liked it. Sure, it’s incredibly basic. Your family gets murdered and you try to chase the murderers for revenge, only to find this goes higher up than you thought. While it is basic, I found the plot to be enjoyable because it’s a story type I haven’t experienced recently. This isn’t about saving the world or trying to make an impact on history. Instead, the story is more down-to-earth. And that can also be seen through the characters. Just like the story, the characters you meet throughout are basic but down-to-earth, and I enjoyed being around them. And speaking of simple yet down-to-earth, I liked the world building as well. It’s just New York City, but it’s one ravaged by a new street drug as you dive deep into the city’s under belly and work your way up to the top. But what really makes the story interesting is how it is told: through a comic book format. Throughout this game, you get the see the story play out through a comic book style, which I thought was really cool. I didn’t like the art all that much, but other than that I think overall the story is pretty solid.
But let’s be honest: the one thing everyone remembers this game for is the diving. Slow motion diving while popping dudes in the heads is the game’s staple. So, how does it hold up? Pretty damn well actually. I thought because of its age, some of game’s aspects like its controls would feel outdated, but everything felt pretty good. And man, let me tell you that slow motion diving never got old. I bet you 90% of my kills in that game was while diving. If it wasn’t for the diving, the game would’ve gotten stale quick because looking back, the entire game from beginning to end is just shooting dudes with the only difference being the weapon they carry and the clothes they are wearing. I did have some issues with the diving like poor hit detection, but overall it feels great.
While the diving mechanic really holds the game up, I did have some other positive experiences with the game. For starters, I really enjoyed the weapons. It’s weird to say I liked them for their simplicity, but I liked them for their simplicity. Also, the tutorial was separate from the game, which I liked. Finally, throughout the game you can hear Max narrate about various things constantly, which was something I never got annoyed by. While I did enjoy these aspects, they didn’t feel as important as the diving mechanic.
Wait, what do I mean by ‘important?’ Well, if it weren’t for the diving, I probably wouldn’t like this game all that much because of the various issues I found. For starters, throughout the game there are dream sequences. Well, they’re more like drugged sequences, but that’s besides the point. These sequences involve you doing some weird things like walking on a tight rope of blood with low gravity, trying to find your way through a maze, and so on. While at first I thought it was neat, by the end of the game I was just annoyed by them. They were slow, glitchy, and a waste of my time. The game had a weird audio glitch that required a mod to fix, something that annoys me deeply. While I enjoyed the weapons as a whole, the one thing I thought would be coolest thing to do is to slow motion shoot a dude with a shotgun. While I certainly can do that in this game, I found the shotguns to be one of the worst shotguns I have ever used in a video game. The game only allows you to choose one difficulty at the start, which I think is dumb. While I think the first difficulty you can choose is a good difficulty level, I still think not having that option is a bad thing. The game only has manual saves, which even for its time is a little dumb. Since I am so used to auto-saves, I had multiple large set backs throughout. One thing I did find rather funny is how the game actually got a little easier later on. You start facing enemies with better weaponry, but the weapons in question shot slower but were more powerful. This meant I could easily dodge their fire while providing pretty damn good accuracy with a powerful weapon against the enemies. This was about halfway through the game, and that was the only time I was ever full of medicine. Finally, After beating the game, you still don’t unlock everything. All you get is the game’s timed mode and the next difficulty up, while still missing out on the final difficulty. Overall, I would say if it weren’t for how fun diving is, this game would be a mess.
I didn’t dabble too long into its timed mode, but from what I have played of it, I thought it was okay. The whole premise of the game is that you got a minute to complete the game, but every kill sets the clock back a bit. I’m not a fan of timed modes, but I still thought this one looked pretty cool. I think the concept is cool, its execution wasn’t. The main thing that didn’t work were the moments without enemies. I barely got past the first level because after killing all of the enemies, I found myself running a pretty long distance to get to the end of the level without any enemies to shoot, which wasted time. I think if the mode is worked upon, it could be better, but for now it’s not really worth playing.
In conclusion, I had a pretty damn good time with the game. While I did have some hiccups with the game, the plot and its diving mechanics makes the game a blast to play. I can’t wait to dive into the second game and see what changes they made, but as for now I would say this first game is pretty solid.