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Max Payne

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This is a game I heard about forever.  If I'm remembering rightly, the Max Payne idea was in the works for about four or five years.

The best part about this game is the story and its presentation as a comic book.  And the voice actor they got for the main character was really good, too.  He struck a believable cynical, slightly pissed off note.   That tone and style worked really well.

I also liked Bullet Time, though there was never enough of it.  Also, there were a couple of ways to trigger it.  Sometimes I just wanted it on for a second while I moved sideways.  But when I tried that the game would detect that as a special move and would make me dive.  Often, the dive would put me too low to hit my target.   I suppose I should have played with the control options some more to figure out something that worked better for me.

One thing that bugged me was the third-person point of view.  That's probably because I have so much experience with FPS games.  They did fairly well with the camera positioning, so I don't remember any instances where I couldn't see my target.   But I simply found it difficult to aim.

The use of the technology was generally very good.  For example, they had a few dream sequences.  They colored the lights differently.  I think they altered the proportions in the map a little bit.  In one spot, they had a telescoping hallway, like you see in some horror movies.  Some of those changes were fairly simple, but they fit the needs of the story real well.

One dream sequence bit that started interesting was walking out the end of a hall into a star field.  You had a little squiggly line that you walked on.  But it ended up being nothing more than a platform game.  You had to make a couple of jumps, a couple of drops.  It took a few tries to master the drops where you didn't miss your target.  After the initial visual, which had such impact, the actual puzzle came across pretty flat.

There were a few spots where I got low on health and ammo and had to replay a section fifteen or twenty times before getting through it.  Those are always annoying.   Especially when a teeny mistake costs a restart.  There's one bit where a helicopter shoots at you.  It takes several attempts to figure out exactly where to stand so you don't get shot.  Another spot has a fairly large supply of bad guys flowing in.  Again, several attempts to learn their spawn triggers so you can anticipate them with the right weapon and not get trapped in a corner.

The game was solvable without the walkthru.  I think I only resorted to it once or twice.  Game designers seem to be getting really good at embedding hints and clues while still keeping the game challenging.

On my brother's Game Total Value Scale, Threat of Procrastination.  This is one I actually finished.  The third-person bugged me.  Loved bullet time.

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Last modified: January 25, 2003
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