Hello and welcome to my three part series ranking the Max Payne games. As always, you can find the rank of the games here. So, let’s get right into it.
Max Payne 2 follows Max a few years after the events of the first game. Max has decided to go back into the NYPD, and the game starts with you rescuing your old friend Vladimir from a rival gang. What soon follows is a descent back into the craziness of the first game as he finds himself uniting with Mona Sax and diving deep into the rabbit hole that is the inner circle. Twists and turns ensue, and long story short Max is back.
In essence, Max Payne 2 is more of the same. Some improvements have been made, but for the most part it is still the Max Payne I have come to love. Because of that, I found my time to be just as great as the first game, and the small improvements that were there made the experience that much better.
When it comes to the story, it plays out just about how I expected it to: Max trying to live his life when his world is turned upside down. Just like the first game, Max Payne 2’s story and characters are believable. This isn’t some crazy plot that has you rip roaring around the globe trying to save humanity from some nefarious entity. This story, even with its inner circle elements, is much more down to earth. It keeps its noir feel and still plays out story bits with a comic book format. The difference with this game though is that I personally liked the comic book art and the dream sequences more than the last game. Not only that, at times the game will allow you to play as Mona, offering a different perspective on events. Overall, the story plays out just like the first one, but I did enjoy the minor tweaks.
Gameplay, on the other hand, plays out with some bigger changes. I was still diving like there was no tomorrow, which is still as fun as the first time. But some additions have been made to the gameplay that are for better or for worse. Graphics have been noticeably improved, and characters now don’t look like polygonal people wearing picture faces. More weapons have been added and older weapons have been balanced properly. In the last game, I complained about shotguns but I found my experience with them to be fine in this game. Also, I found that hit detection with enemies felt more refined than the last game. Diving has been improved by allowing Max to stay on the ground for however long he is shooting. I died multiple times in the first game trying to get back up from a dive, so having some control over that felt good. Finally, I noticed some weird gun-fu moves, but I never found out how to properly do them. Gameplay is still just as fun as the first game, with some improvements made to make things better.
Like I said earlier, the changes are for better or for worse, and not all of the changes made to the gameplay were for the better. Also, a couple of my issues came from a lack of change. Like for instance, I wish this game had an auto-save feature. This game is newer than the first game, so the lack of it here feels a little more disappointing. Also, the game still only allows for one difficulty option at the start. Even after beating the game for the first time, I still couldn’t choose all difficulty options. But the biggest issue I had with gameplay was the addition of escort missions. I think they happened only twice in this game, but both times were a pain. Well, except for the one where you had to escort your former enemy who is stuck in a giant mascot outfit, that one is alright. Finally, I found the music to be pretty goofy. Overall, I would say that the issues I had with the game don’t quite hold up as much considering most of them are issues I had with the previous game, and the other issues I had didn’t affect me that much. In the end, I would say the gameplay is slightly better than the first.
Max Payne 2 brings back New York Minute, the timed mode that has you beelining Max through a level as fast as humanly possible. I found this version to be much better than the last, because the mode was split into levels instead of trying to play the whole thing. The last game was just a playthrough of the whole game but with trying to keep the time under a minute (killing dudes took some time off). This game has the mode split into levels where it’s mainly about getting the fastest time. It plays out much better than the first game, and I enjoyed playing some of those levels. Also, this game has an endless mode. The mode consists of tiny pieces of a random level that is littered with spawn points and items. The mode is about trying to get the highest time, with the only issue being the mode is way too difficult and I could only find myself getting around a minute or two. Still, I enjoyed my time with the mode and I am glad that it is there.
In conclusion, I think that Max Payne 2 is a hard one to write about. It’s hard because in large part, it is more Max Payne. Still, I think the additions made to this game makes this one slightly better. Because of that, I decided to put this game ahead of the first. As for my prediction, I honestly have no clue. I haven’t been reading into these games at all (trying to go in blind), but I do know Rockstar made the last game, not Remedy. Because of that, I think the last game will either be first or last. But only time will tell on that.
That about sums it up. Thank you all for reading, and tune in soon when I shave my head and move to Brazil.