Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne PlayStation 2
by Rockstar Games
Developed by Remedy
Released: Out Now
Not long ago we reviewed Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne for the PC. It was certainly an impressive sequel and it's no surprise that the game was destined to arrive on two of the current consoles (PS2 and Xbox). What is surprising though is the speed with which Remedy have bought out this version with the PC version only recently being released. No doubt PlayStation 2 and Xbox owners will be delighted by this efficiency on the part of both Rockstar and Remedy. This review will look at the PlayStation 2 version of Max Payne 2.
With the gruesome events of the first game apparently behind him, and with the constipated grin now removed from his face, Max is once again back on the NYPD. Of course it's never simple with Max and on a routine murder investigation he encounters a woman, named Mona Sax, who was supposed to be dead. There are many questions to be answered for Max and it seems that the answers lie with Mona. The game's story is once again gritty, mature and underneath the mystery, there is a romance between Max and Mona. At no point is the story ever clear cut and you'll have to play through the game, maybe more than once, to understand many of the games twists and turns.
You've probably played the first Max Payne game but if you haven't a little description of what makes the series so special is in order. Max Payne is a third person shooter (that is to say the camera is positioned behind Max ) but for all intents and purposes it plays just like a first person shooter. Max has a few tricks up his sleeve. He can use Bullet time, a process of putting everything in slow motion whilst he can shoot and kill more enemies than would normally be possible. He can also dodge the bullets that are fired at him in slow motion, which is known as shootdodging. Both shootdodging and bullet time look very stylish and are features which further increase the movie feel of the Max Payne series. In fact bullet time has been improved for Max Payne 2 and Max can slow down his enemies even more. The quicker he takes out his enemies the slower those remaining will become whilst Max remains at the same speed to give him an even bigger advantage. Of course you'll have to maintain Max's health and just as in the first game, you'll have to search for pain killers in order to improve his health.
If I had to pick a fault with Max Payne 2 it would have to be with the length of the main game. Amazingly you can play through the whole game in just 5-7 hours. Before you form a bad opinion of this though it's worth noting that most games of this nature have around 2-3 hours of good missions/levels and the rest is usually padded out by mundane levels that are actually very flat. Max Payne 2 doesn't really have these boring moments and it's top action all the way through and will undoubtedly hold your attention. You also have to factor in the additional gameplay modes when considering the value for money aspect. After you've beat the game the first time, you'll unlock another game mode called Hard Boiled. Hard Boiled is the same as the normal game except the enemies don't scale to your ability and are always at their toughest. Once Hard Boiled is completed you'll have access to Dead on Arrival. Dead on Arrival is similar to Hard Boiled except you now have a limited number of saves. New York Minute mode can be played when you've beat the normal game once. This is basically a kill against the clock mode where you have to kill as many enemies as possible in the time given. Dead Man Walking is the final mode and this is also available after completing the game once. This is a deathmatch game for you to take part in.
In terms of graphics the PC version was a cracker. Even when the graphical details were not turned up to the maximum it looked great and if you were lucky enough to own a top end graphics card you were in for a real treat. The PlayStation 2 version is a very different story though. With the small amount of graphics memory in the console it was obvious a straight port was out of the question and the quality of the graphics have plummeted somewhat to accommodate the console. If you haven't played the PC version you probably won't think it looks too bad but if you have played the PC version then the difference is shocking and certainly in terms of looks it's not that great by comparison. The framerate is also a little suspect at times. It never spoils the game but after the ultra slick PC version it does feel rough. The game has a habit of freezing for about a second before a cutscene too and if you skip a cutscene (which you won't want to do on your first time through), you'll be presented with a loading screen.
Of course the PlayStation 2 version of Max Payne 2 has a different control scheme and whilst it's sufficient and gets the job done it's much more awkward to play than using the mouse and keyboard combination that the PC version has. The left analogue stick moves Max and the right analogue stick is used to aim and look around. It's basically a familiar setup to anyone who has played a FPS on the PlayStation 2. The big difference I found was that I used bullet time a lot more on the PlayStation 2 version and in many ways it's a godsend because it allows you to counter the slightly awkward controls.
The Playstation 2 version of Max Payne was not fully subtitled. Thankfully Remedy have gone to a lot more effort in this department for Max Payne 2 and the PlayStation 2 version is as well subtitled as the PC version. Subtitles have to be enabled but once they are, virtually everything is subtitled. The game still uses the storyboard sequences between missions to explain the story and these are fully subtitled. All of the cutscenes and Max's comments to himself are shown in text too. Walk into a room with other characters, or a TV or radio that is turned on, and the speech is once again subtitled. At times Max will hear voices from the past and these are not subtitled but overall it's a massive improvement from the first game and as a result it can certainly be classified as deaf gamer friendly.
Max Payne 2 makes it's arrival on PlayStation 2 in rather impressive time. The game isn't as enjoyable to play as the PC version because of the controls and graphics and it's fair to say that you can't really blame Remedy for any of these niggles, as they are bound by the limitations of the console. Still those niggles aside PlayStation 2 owners can now enjoy the Max Payne 2 experience and the fact that there isn't a game like it on the console (apart from Max Payne of course) makes the speed of this release most welcome indeed.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Lacks the graphical polish and superb control system of the PC version but otherwise it's exactly the same.
Just as deaf gamer friendly as the PC version, which is great to see.