• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Max Payne - 20 Year Anniversary

KyoZz

Member
Jan 21, 2018
3,689
15,587
955
31
Bordeaux, France
Max Payne was released on July 23, 2001, 20 years ago today. Happy birthday, Max Payne!



Here's Sam Lake (Max Payne 1 & 2) and James McCaffrey (Max Payne 3) with an anniversary message, and a special, familiar jacket.



As an apocalyptic blizzard blankets New York City in snow, a hard-boiled cop named Max Payne—a man with nothing to lose and an endless supply of metaphors—embarks on a bloody quest for vengeance.

Max returns home one day to find his wife and newborn daughter dead, killed by junkies hopped up on a new designer drug called Valkyr.
Three years later he's with the DEA, working deep undercover inside the Punchinello crime family, the biggest Valkyr trafficker in the city. Then shit hits the fan.
Payne is framed for the murder of a fellow DEA agent, and soon finds himself on the run from the NYPD, the mob, and a sinister secret society known as the Inner Circle.
It's a good thing he's handy with a gun.

Released on PC in 2001 and developed by Remedy Entertainment, Max Payne was one of the first games to make a feature out of Bullet Time—the effect popularised by The Matrix, which had become a phenomenon two years earlier.
During combat you can send Max into a graceful slow-motion dive, which results in some wonderfully chaotic, cinematic, and blood-soaked firefights.

Diving into a room and wiping out an entire group of armed goons in a single flurry of bullets, Molotovs exploding theatrically around you, is immensely satisfying—and still looks impossibly cool, nearly 20 years later.
It almost feels like a puzzle game at times, figuring out the most efficient, ruthless way to clear a room based on the weapons you're carrying, where the enemies are placed, and how full, or empty, your Bullet Time meter is.



Bullet Time is a resource in Max Payne, and managing it is key to surviving its many challenging combat set-pieces.
A regular enemy can obliterate your health bar with one carefully placed shotgun blast, so you really have to think before you shoot.
There's nothing more embarrassing than charging into a room, realising you don't have any Bullet Time, then eating a faceful of lead.

The enemy AI isn't particularly smart, but these wise-cracking gangster thugs, with their hilariously over-the-top New Jersey accents, make for entertaining cannon fodder. Most battles are over in seconds.
A fury of muzzle flashes, then suddenly, quiet. The sound of bodies and empty shell casings hitting the floor, and maybe a dry one-liner from Max.
The weapons feel great too, from the deadly rattle of the dual Ingram machine pistols, to the brutal punch of the pump-action shotgun, which sends enemies flying. But there's more to the game than just slow-motion violence.



Max Payne is not shy about flaunting its influences, whether it's Pulp Fiction, John Woo shootouts, classic film noir, David Lynch movies, or, of course, The Matrix. But that's part of its endearing charm. It's a love letter to the classics, paying tribute to, rather than just copying, them.
Remedy's games are always steeped in pop culture, and Max Payne is loaded with self-aware references, wink-to-camera moments, and a surprising amount of Tom and Jerry-style slapstick.
It could have easily been a pretentious, straight-faced crime story, but writer Sam Lake's knack for the weird gives Max Payne a distinctively idiosyncratic personality.

Max is played brilliantly by actor James McCaffrey, who brings a whiskey-soaked gravity to Lake's dialogue. He's the archetypal loner cop, whose metaphor-heavy musings are drenched in cliche, doubling down on film noir stereotypes with a knowing splash of irony.
Much of the story is relayed through comic book panels, which suits the pulpy tone of the game perfectly. Lake also delights in breaking genre and exploring more esoteric subject matter, including Norse mythology and the occult.



And what begins as a fairly straightforward revenge tale soon veers into stranger territory, including surreal interactive dream sequences that aren't that much fun to play, but are genuinely unsettling.
Creating an atmosphere is something else Max Payne does magnificently. Its vision of New York is relentlessly bleak and grimy, taking you on a grand tour of dilapidated apartment blocks, fleabag hotels, and seedy nightclubs.
NYC almost feels mythical, or like some nightmare playing out in Max's fractured psyche. The relentless snow and eerie, empty streets give the game an oddly dreamlike feel. Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, is invoked several times, and you really do feel like you're witnessing the end of the world.



Surprisingly, the game still looks great thanks to the strength of its art direction, its use of light and shadow, and those dazzling slow-motion particle effects. It holds up remarkably well, despite its age.
Replaying it today, I'm more certain than ever that Max Payne belongs in the same pantheon of PC classics as Doom, Deus Ex, and Half-Life.
Max's violent odyssey through the blizzard-battered streets of New York is every bit as thrilling as it was back in 2001, and time has not dulled the game's sense of humour, attention to detail, and gloriously cinematic combat.


 
Last edited:

carlosrox

Member
May 19, 2020
3,512
5,805
530
Part 4 with old Max and vehicular combat when?

I actually think the first game is the worst (due to really cheap difficulty) and that 2 and 3 are the better games overall. But it's pretty crazy that 1 more or less invented slow mo/bullet time for games. Plus Max as a character is great and you can't go wrong with his voice.

The atmosphere was excellent but I just was never a fan of the silly Sam Lake face. I was happy they got rid of it in 2.

Great series. I'd love to see it continue or finish with 1 more game. 3 did end perfectly in my eyes but that doesn't mean I wouldn't take a well made sequel!

A remake would be cool too.
 
Last edited:

Con-Z-epT

Gold Member
Dec 3, 2019
3,018
6,924
585
Loved all the games but especially the first two. I stopped counting how often i played the second game.

We could use another one of those Payneful endeavours of Max.
 

Dr.Morris79

Member
Nov 19, 2018
2,922
4,796
490
Essex
This and Battlefield 1942 are the two games that got me into PC gaming, to this day!

And what games they were! Still my most memorable games to date.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucky8BB

GymWolf

Member
Jun 11, 2019
20,732
31,325
670
Part 4 with old Max and vehicular combat when?

I actually think the first game is the worst (due to really cheap difficulty) and that 2 and 3 are the better games overall. But it's pretty crazy that 1 more or less invented slow mo/bullet time for games. Plus Max as a character is great and you can't go wrong with his voice.

The atmosphere was excellent but I just was never a fan of the silly Sam Lake face. I was happy they got rid of it in 2.

Great series. I'd love to see it continue or finish with 1 more game. 3 did end perfectly in my eyes but that doesn't mean I wouldn't take a well made sequel!

A remake would be cool too.
Story was the best in the first one but yeah, gameplay wise the sequels are better, especially the third one.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kuranghi
Aug 11, 2019
1,379
1,968
400
I had just gotten a new PC with decent specs and the summer that Max Payne came out, MP1 blew me away when it came out.

Great series. I've been thinking about replaying it from the start
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucky8BB

Salmon Snake

Member
Jul 31, 2019
1,044
1,643
435
I have so fond memories of the first two games. Played them both with my best friend as kids countless of times.

Max Payne 1 and 2 are clearly better than 3 imo, but really wish Rockstar would remaster it for current gen. The gunplay in that game is just superb.
 
Last edited:

Kuranghi

Member
Apr 17, 2015
6,929
12,129
830
All 3 available on Steam for ~£12 right now as well:


If you have 3 already or don't want it then get this instead, its 1&2 for only £3!


I just realised I never got them on Steam, played boxed copies back in the day and when I replayed 1&2 (Like 5-10 years ago) I think it was through GoG.com.
 
Last edited:

Kuranghi

Member
Apr 17, 2015
6,929
12,129
830
How long have you guys played Max Payne 3 for according to Steam? I'm at 124 hours lmao, thats nuts for a linear SP game...
 
  • Like
Reactions: amigastar

Dr.Morris79

Member
Nov 19, 2018
2,922
4,796
490
Essex
All 3 available on Steam for ~£12 right now as well:


If you have 3 already or don't want it then get this instead, its 1&2 for only £3!


I just realised I never got them on Steam, played boxed copies back in the day and when I replayed 1&2 (Like 5-10 years ago) I think it was through GoG.com.
I dont think they've ever been on GoG sadly :(
 
  • Thoughtful
  • Empathy
Reactions: Kuranghi and RNG

chigstoke

Member
May 23, 2017
380
651
400
Max Payne will go down as a generation defining game, and it came out in 2001! Great graphics for its time, bullet time was marvellous, extremely fun gameplay and levels. Some artificial difficulty at a couple moments and while not as smooth an experience as MP2 or 3, but it has to go down as one of the generations best games.

Its in dire need of some sort of remaster, in fact I saw the OP title and thought that’s what it was! A man can dream
 

niilokin

Member
Feb 21, 2019
818
1,436
435
The first game has brilliant dark atmosphere and great action... never played 2 for some reason and 3 was just alright but best part of it was going back to the snowy dark New York for brief moment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucky8BB

Orta

console wars 2020 - participant
Apr 26, 2018
3,070
8,258
670
The original isn't bad but MP2 is still in my opinion the most gloriously cool and violent videogame ever made. Unquestionably my favourite third person shooter of all time.
 

Kenpachii

Member
Mar 23, 2018
9,481
11,784
815
Both games where amazing.

1 and 2 where some next level stuff. It worked so well as it involved the matrix into it with there bullit time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucky8BB

SafeOrAlone

Member
May 22, 2018
2,208
2,282
545
A decade later and for me, still no third person shooter has had a better set piece than the Airport shootout in MP3. Everything about this part was perfect.
Yeah, this part blew me away. At the time it was in rare air with sequences you'd find in the likes of Metal Gear Solid or Red Dead Redemption.
Something about adding vocals to the mix during gameplay can really elevate a moment.

This whole game though, was dope. I love how Max transformed throughout the journey.
 
  • Like
Reactions: plushyp

Forsythia

Member
Aug 7, 2011
2,363
1,674
1,105
The Netherlands
The first 2 games are great, the third had too many cutscenes and the loading times are atrocious. So much they keep me from replaying the game.
 

TGO

Hype Train conductor. Works harder than it steams.
Sep 5, 2007
12,088
13,913
1,820
UK
Would love a remake of the first two games.
Would never get it though 😔
 

onnextflix5

Member
Jun 6, 2019
545
881
365
Still waiting for remedy to make a game as good as max payne 2, their games just went downhill after that game.
 

Warablo

Member
May 15, 2013
2,934
1,070
805
Loved the voice over storytelling and atmosphere in Max Payne 1.
 
Last edited:

Old_and_Slow

Member
Oct 8, 2020
88
89
200
I played the original on PS2 and I was blown away at the time. Think I played it from start to finish half a dozen times because I enjoyed the mechanics.

I tried to play the second but the inverted y axis (up is down) stopped me in my tracks. I really tried but my brain doesn't work that way! Never went back to see if a way to change it was ever added to console. But now I have a PC and should really go and play this thing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucky8BB

ChoosableOne

ChoosableAll
Dec 1, 2019
558
426
495
The unofficial Matrix game, with a touching story. After i watched Sam Lake's video here, i wiped my tears(lie) and opened Steam and bought "Max Payne 1-2 bundle". There is a sale right now. After the "Just cause" feeling i had in the third game(which is a good game actually), i decided to play these two great games again to remember Max Payne well(like i played Fallout 1-2 again after 3).
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Jan 30, 2010
15,673
5,381
1,410
https://twitter.com/Agnates
metacouncil.com
Huh, Max's voice actor should do a Max Payne movie, he could totally pass for a miserable drunk ass ex cop that somehow turns badass when it's called for. Just give him a good stunt double for all the dives and stuff cuz he's old I guess.
 
Last edited:

Kokoloko85

Member
Sep 26, 2019
4,301
5,368
485
Loved MP 1&2 Back in the day. They need to do a remake or sequel in the same tone as the originals
 

ThaGuy

Member
Mar 2, 2012
397
52
650
I put so many hours into the multiplayer aspect in the 3rd one. The slow motion gameplay in multiplayer reminded me alot of F.E.A.R.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MrS