Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone









The latest release from 3D Realms combines the elements of a gritty murder-mystery novel with the intense action of a 3rd person shooter to produce a PC gaming experience that most players will not easily forget. Max Payne may warrant attention with its stylish gameplay and above average storyline, but does it truly live up to the ‘Game of the Year’ hype that that has been generated since its release?  Check out The Laser’s full review of the game and find out for yourself…  

Almost ten years ago, the computer gaming world was turned upside down with the advent of a truly unique game release. Tomb Raider forcefully and without regret tore us away from the mind numbing 1st person shooter genre that had up until that point ruled hardrives on computers across the world. Its leading character, the now infamous Lara Croft, took us on a journey through new terrains and landscapes that blended exploration, puzzle solving, and high action into a fruitful franchise that continues to reap success even today.

TR’s immense success also broke down the barriers for the now highly successful 3rd person adventure/shooter genre that has continued to produce new innovations in computer and console gaming, and 2001 seems to be the year that proves this sentiment to be true. At the beginning of the year, PC, Macintosh, and PSII gamers were all privileged to see the release of Oni for their particular platform (check out The Laser’s review for more details): a game that took the 3rd person shooter experience to new levels with its unique combat system and completely original storyline and gameplay. In February, Oni was rightfully the heir apparent to the Tomb Raider 3rd person shooter/adventure legacy, but thanks to the game developers at Remedy, there happens to be some stiff competition for the crown, stemming from the highly anticipated release of Max Payne.

The latest title from gaming moguls 3Drealms and Godgames, Max Payne is an interesting game to say the least. It meshes a solidly written and elaborate background story with some of the most intense and graphic 3rd person action to date in order to produce a game of high quality and caliber. Set in the seedy underworld of New York City , you follow the exploits of a fugitive undercover cop (named Max Payne) as he searches not only for the truth behind the vicious murder of his family, but also for revenge.

Max Payne is an extremely story driven game that is highly reminiscent of a Mike Hammer crime novel, or a gritty 1950’s noir pulp magazine. Each level of the game reads as a chapter, giving you the first person recollections of the main character as he traverses through the events surrounding the game. Snappy comments and witty quotes make up the majority of the dialogue found within the separate chapter/cutscenes, again giving you the feeling of a dreary crime novel that happens to be unfolding right before you. One of the best one liners found in the game: “…Lady Luck was actually a hooker and you were fresh out of cash…”, and that’s just the icing on the cake as the writing within particular game.

The only thing that could possible overshadow the intensity of the storyline found within Max Payne would be the inherit gameplay. First and foremost, this game is a 3rd person shooter, make no doubt about that. But the developers at Remedy have gone to great lengths to make the action and violence in the game extremely realistic and as true to life as possible. The graphics engine used to create MP is highly advanced, giving clarity and substance to the NYC blizzard that the game takes place in. The in-game characters are highly detailed right down to the stubble on their unshaven faces and lines beneath their weary eyes. The character modeling is also smooth, giving that realistic feel to their in-game movements and overall behavior, especially when shot down with a high caliber weapon.

The action found within MP has to be one of the most unique and exhilarating offerings for a title in quite some time. Although the game is a 3rd person shooter utilizing all of the motion aspects familiar with that particular genre of gaming, the developers of MP have added a special feature known as ‘Bullet Time’, making the gameplay stand out among others.  If you can recall the various action scenes found within the 1999 film ‘The Matrix’ where time seems to slow down around the main characters, then you can visualize what ‘Bullet Time’ does for MP.  When this feature is activated in the game, time slows down to a crawl around the main character, allowing him dodge enemy fire, take extremely careful aim on nearby assailants, and perform John Woo film-action style   combos of the two.  The action within the game is rather fast paced for the most part, but thankfully your personal amount of ‘Bullet Time’ is augmented whenever a positive kill is made on an opponent. Still, it can be depleted rather quickly during a typical combat scenario…so beware. 

A number of other interesting attributes can be found within Max Payne that warrant some sort of note. For starters, the game have includes a full set of tweakable option controls that pop up at the top of the initial load, including password protected parental controls that can soften the levels of gore and violence found within the title. The developers have also setup an editing tool that allows for fully customable levels and scenarios to match your particular tastes and fancies. The walkthrough and tutorial is also rather nice, giving the player all pertinent info on action commands, search routines, and weapon overviews.

All in all, Max Payne has proved itself to be a quality game that is well balanced and well designed. The action involved as very intense, matching the well scripted lines of the background story giving the entire piece a well-rounded feel. The only downside with game came from some very minor elements of the game design. The crosshair used to aim the various weapons available to the main characters consists a small white dot that often becomes lost in the background of the game. This was especially a nuisance during the outdoors scenes that take place during a snowstorm. The game also crashed for no apparent reason during certain high action/outdoor sequences with no real reason or rhyme. This was especially troublesome, given the fact that the system the game was reviewed on happened to be a brand new AMD 1.2 ghtz processor with a 64 meg video card and over 128 megs of internal RAM. Though the crashes weren’t as common as with other poorly designed games, they were still enough to warrant some sort of concern.