PC/Mac/Linux
enfrdeitptrues

 

System Requirements-
450MHz, Mac 300Mhz
96 MB RAM, 64MB for Mac
800 MB HD
16MB 3D card
MacOS 8.6 or higher
Review System- PIII 800, 512MB RAM, 64MB Geforce2 GTS, SoundBlaster Live,Win2k Service Pack 2 Players- 1
Buy it on LeapTrade for $5.00

Max Payne is the title of the new third person shooter from Remedy Entertainment, it is also the title of the lead character in this 10-15 hour epic of John Woo proportions. I, like many others, have been following this games development ever since the incredible screenshots first started appearing on the web, a few years ago. Am I disappointed in the results? Well, lets review this bad boy and find out.

Graphics

Remedy has been touting this game as ' Realism to the Max'. Is this a true statement? Yes and No. The graphics in some instances are light years ahead of previous titles, while in others they seem to be on par, or a little behind the competition. Let's take an in-depth look at the graphics in Max Payne, to see just where it stands. One note, I ran the game with all effects set to the Maximum, and I had acceptable frame rates. Particle System Remedy has done a great job on the particle system. The fire and the snow are two standouts here. I know many games have implemented weather effects in the past, but Remedy seems to be the first to realize, snow rarely falls in a straight path. The snow in Max Payne, just like the Real World?, falls in a angular descent. I know this doesn't sound like much, but it definitely adds to the realism of the snow bound city you will be playing in, for part of the game. Next is the fire. The fire in this game is game is likewise very realistic. The fire definitely has a sense of volume to it (I can't think of any other game that does this convincingly) , and it generally behaves in the way you think it should. Some of the other particle effects, such as the water spray when you splash through sewers, are not quite as impressive, however. The particle system, in some instances seems to be tied to a pretty robust physics engine, which we will cover later in the review. For now, Particle System- Realism to the Max? Yes.

Reflections and Shadows

In a game that touts photorealism, reflections and shadows seem to be conspicuously absent in the game. Max Payne, like other games in the genre, seems to have it's fair share of bathrooms in the game. And just like it's real world counterparts mirrors make up part of their interiors. However, the mirrors in Max Payne reflect nothing, zilch, zero, nada. The shadows in the game, are of the blob type, similar to Tomb Raider and it's ilk. No projected shadows here. Many other games have incorporated projected shadows of late, and I'll be honest, I was kind of disappointed they weren't included in this game. Reflections and Shadows- Realism to the Max? No.

Textures

Reportedly, Remedy used a digital camera to capture all the textures in the game. Does it show? Yes, my friend it does. The texture work in this game is the biggest leap the genre has taken in approaching photorealism by far. The title character seem to benefit the most from this technique, but the levels and weapons seem to agree with this treatment as well. Are you going to mistake the game characters and settings for the real thing ? No, but it does do an incredible job of immersing you in the game. The shaders on the guns also have a nice chrome effect, but they are kind of tiny and it really isn't that noticeable. Textures- Realism to the Max? Yes.

Physics

I included the physics engine in the graphics portion of the review, because it effects the aesthetics of the game more than the game play itself. Like I noted previously in the review, the particles system is tied to the physics engine. How does this impact the realism in the game you ask? (well maybe you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway) First, When you fire a weapon shell casings realistically eject, fall, and bounce around just like you would expect. Just don't stick around to watch them disappear, as this kinda ruins the moment. Take that same gun and fire a couple of rounds into any object in the game, and the object will likewise be destroyed in an equally convincing manner. For instance, glass shatters; wine barrels ( or grape juice barrels if you prefer) start sporting a leak; tiles shatter (ala the Matrix); money flies around; dry wall will now show a hole with plaster pouring out, you get the picture. It was so cool to watch the physics in the game, I would run around shooting anything and everything, just to see what would happen next. Physics- Realism to the Max? Yes.

Animation and Models

Lets tackle the animation first. The walk and run cycles seem to be a little unnatural. The knees and lower legs of the enemies seem to bend at odd angles and they look a little stiff to boot. Another sore spot in the animation is Max's standard jump, pitiful is a word that comes to mind. There is no anticipation of the jump or follow through in the jump cycle. It's a straight up and down jump, and very unnatural. Facial animation is rather nonexistent in the game, Max seems to sport that same squinty eyed Clint Eastwood expression throughout the whole game. I do give Remedy a hand, they don't show the faces of the characters very often as they talk. This kind of hides the fact that their lips aren't moving. On the other end of the spectrum, the slow-motion dive and roll is definitely a winner. It's very well done and convincing. The modeling of the characters is pretty well done. They aren't exactly the most detailed models in the world, but the texture work seems to put the details in anyway. The rest of the modeling seems to be adequate as well, though the vehicles are rather blocky and unconvincing. Animation and Models- Realism to the Max? Some parts yes, but as whole no.

Architecture and Level Design

The team at Remedy earned their paycheck in this department. The levels sport a very realistic look to them, in every sense of the word. The office building in particular had me feeling like I was viewing an architectural walkthrough. The city streets are populated with shops and homes that looks like they were ripped straight out of a NYC tourism pamphlet. And the interiors of these buildings are packed full of attention to detail on a scale I've yet to see in a video game, bar none. This is another area where the texture work paid big dividends. Architecture and Level Design- Realism to the Max? Yes.

Lighting

Remedy adds also say this game is the first to have real time radiosity lighting. What is radiosity? Radiosity is basically (very basic mind you) a physically accurate method of calculating light, whereby objects pick up some of the color from surrounding objects. Sounds pretty radical, huh? Well the results aren't that radical. The only time I really noticed it is around the barrels of fire on the city street, they cast a noticeable orange glow on the bricks of the building. I suppose the whole goal of radiosity lighting is so you don't notice it though. There are no garish weird color lights, like Unreal ( purple?). There is also a rather well done glow around neon lights. And as a whole the lighting is rather well done. The whole thing kind of screams subtlety (screams subtlety?). One other thing, the lights do not seem to cast any shadows that move as you move. So uncheck real-time shadows. Lighting- Realism to the Max? A subtle yes, with a shadowy no.

Graphics

As a gamer, I was pretty pleased at the graphics in this game. They do a convincing job of portraying a real world NYC. As someone who was expecting the new paradigm in 3d graphics, I was a little disappointed in the lack of convincing shadows and reflections, but impressed by the physics based particle system and photo-realistic textures. If I was to give them a letter grade, I would give them an A-.

Gameplay Basics

OK, so now we know this is a purty game, but how does it play? Well think John Woo meets the Matrix meets Charles Bronson, and you won't be far off. The game is played from a third person perspective like Tomb Raider, rather than the first person perspective of your typical shooter (e.g. Quake, Unreal, etc..). The camera and targeting problems, normally associated with the third person perspective, seem to be nonexistent. The game also has a pretty liberal save game feature, allowing you to save the game at any time. The load times for each level are pretty average for a typical shooter ( 30 seconds or so), but the subsequent reload from a quick save is instantaneous.

Story

The games starts off with your character ( Max Payne) at the top of a skyscraper, surrounded by the NYC police department. He then goes on to explain, how he ended up in this rather precarious predicament. So you flash back to a few years earlier, when you, as a NYC detective, come home to find your family brutally murdered by some drug crazed maniacs. You then flash forward to a few days ago, where you are working undercover in the DEA to infiltrate the mob family behind the hit on your family. What follows is a series of double crosses and shootouts, until the end of the game, where you end up right where the whole thing started. Each part of the story progresses through a series of comic book style cut scenes. The story and some of the dialogue are chock full of clich?'s. But as a whole, the story is rather well done, and keeps you wanting to know more.

Some New Tricks

The developers have done a fantastic job of taking the standard weapons found in most games ( handguns, machine guns, shotgun, etc..), and making them feel like some new toys. They accomplish this through some new game play mechanics. The first of which, is Bullet Time. When you activate Bullet Time , the game play slows down and you and your enemies take considerable more damage. The whole effect is similar to the movie the Matrix. For instance, you can see individual bullets as they pierce the air. The sound slows down and mutes, leaving the sound of your heartbeat reverberating through your ears. The whole effect is pretty awe inspiring, and luckily it is a limited experience ( much like ammo) so you won't get tired of it. The second new trick is activated upon firing a round from your sniper rifle. The camera automatically switches to sit on top of your bullet as it rides to your destination. This too is pretty cool, but not to the degree of Bullet Time. The last new addition the game brings to the table is a automatically adjusting enemy AI. What this means is, the AI will adjust the degree of difficulty, on the fly, according to your ability as a player. This technique should assure a challenging game for all players. Plus, you don't have to feel like wimp for setting the game difficulty to easy.

Games over man, what now?

Sadly, the game does not incorporate any multi-player options whatsoever. What it does include is a few new single player modes . These modes consist of a timed play mode and two more levels of difficulty for the game. The game also includes a editor for making your own maps and particles. It also comes with modeling plug-ins for 3D Studio Max 3 and 4. So if a community picks up these additions and creates new maps and mods, you could be playing the game for some time to come.

Bugs

I really didn't run into any bugs in the game. I played the game with the latest patch 1.1, so your experience may differ. I did have a problem getting the particle editor to run. Every time I fired it up it would crash back to my desktop.

Some Content may not be suitable for?

Let me start by saying, I won't recommend you to play or not to play this game. What I will do is, just state what I consider objectionable and you decide for yourself. First and foremost, the level of violence in this game is very extreme. At the beginning of the game you witness the death of your wife and infant. Yes I said infant. You spend the rest of the game shooting vast amounts of people. This is all portrayed in a very realistic manner (blood spray etc..). To the games credit, all the enemies are portrayed as very bad people (Mafia, drug dealers, etc..). It also has some very disturbing dream sequences. Secondly, the use of drugs is very predominant in the game itself. Drugs are, however, portrayed in a negative light for the most part. I say, for the most part, because instead of having the traditional health kits, you take painkillers. I'm sure they meant this as a play on the title of the game, but I don't think it was a very wise choice. Thirdly, you have some words of the four letter persuasion including the Lord's name in vain (no F-bombs). You also have very mature themes throughout the whole game. Some of these include extortion, murder, prostitution, drug use, the occult and the pornography industry (sounds like the whole gambit, huh?). There is no nudity, so you can now check one positive. Lastly the game definitely has a skewed sense of right and wrong. Most things in the game are neither black and white, but rather varying shades of gray to black. For instance one of the 'good' guys is a leader of the Russian mob. I understand this is Noir storytelling (warts and all), so I'll leave it at that. If it was a movie, it would get an R rating for the violence and adult themes, and probably PG for the language.

Yeah, but is it worth my $40?

If the objectionable material is something you don't mind , then you will most likely find the game worth every penny you paid for it. When you get finished with the game, you will feel like you just starred in a big budget Hollywood action flick. The game includes one of the most compelling stories, you will find in a video game. It also features one of the best endings, I've ever seen.

Final Ratings

Graphics A- Game play A+ Sound A+ Story A Extendibility C+ Offensive Content F

Overall 77%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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