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Max Payne

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Released: 2001

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: PC - Windows

Publisher: Gathering

Developer: Remedy

Submitted by: Graeme Mason

Good old Pete. He’s not just there for the nasty things in life like a leaky roof or a blocked drain. He can help out with the better things. Like when he notices a shrunk-wrapped copy of Max Payne gathering dust on your gameshelf.

“Why haven’t you played that yet?” was the obvious question:

I had no obvious answer. One grey-tinged install later, and…

(starts playing)

…Max’s gravel-path voice splattered from the speakers like bullets from an Uzi.

A fireball erupted in a cinematic opening and pounding music echoed like a beating heart in overtime. A moodily etched graphic novel accompanied the game; atmosphere dripped like rusty water from a broken drainpipe.

It was obvious the developers had grasped the fluid idea of intermingling media (cinema/computer game/graphic novel) and elaborated it into a medium that grabbed hold of you like a boa constricter on a crash diet. Max moved simply and intuitively, the camera stuck to him like a chewed up and spat out piece of gum. Enemies were despatched in glorious slow motion, betraying the origins of the game. In case you still hadn’t caught on, a password is supplied: John Woo.

The bullet time was cool, but take my advice: utilise it sparingly. Overuse leads to boredom and this device was quickly turning more cliched than a dark and stormy night. The criticism didn’t stop there: it had been said before, but I reckoned it needed saying again: like a journey in a beaten up old DeLorean, it was all over before it had even started. (stops playing).

My view is simple: like computer games, like graphic novels, like action movies, love Max Payne. Don’t worry about the brevity: this is still a class act.

That Pete. He knows what he’s talking about.