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Max Payne


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Max Payne (Games)
Max Payne (Games)
Max Payne (Games)
Max Payne (Games)
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Information about Max Payne

Max Payne is a BAFTA award winning third-person shooter video game developed by Finnish Remedy Entertainment, produced by 3D Realms and published by Gathering of Developers in July, 2001 (20 years ago) for Windows. Ports later in the year for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 were published by Rockstar Games. A Macintosh port was published in Jul. 2002 (19 years ago) by MacSoft in North America and Feral Interactive in the rest of the World. There were plans for a Dreamcast version of Max Payne, but they were canceled due to the discontinuation of the console. Max Payne was re-released on Apr. 29, 2009 (12 years ago) as a downloadable game in the Xbox Originals program for the Xbox 360.

Max Payne is one of the first games to incorporate "bullet time" into its gameplay, made famous by The Matrix trilogy, as gunplay allows for slowing down of time to dodge bullets. The game features a gritty movie noir style and uses graphic novel panels in place of cut scenes to narrate the game. Max Payne is heavily influenced by the Hong Kong action cinema genre, particularly the work of director John Woo, as well as hard-boiled detective novels by authors like Mickey Spillane. Having been developed by the Finnish company Remedy, the game contains many allusions to Norse mythology, particularly Ragnarok, and several of the names used in the game (Alfred Woden, Alex Balder, Aesir Corporation, Asgard Building, Valkyr) are those of the Norse gods and mythos.

Max Payne received very positive reviews from critics and was praised for its exciting gunplay and use of noir storytelling devices. As of Mar. 12, 2008 (13 years ago), the Max Payne franchise has sold over 7 million copies according to Take-Two Interactive.


Max Payne is a third-person shooter, in which the player assumes the role of Max Payne. Initially, the player's only weapon is a 9mm Pistol. As they progress, players access other weapons including handguns, shotguns, sub-machine guns, long-range rifles, and hand-thrown weapons. To move the game along, the player is told what the next objective is through Max's internal monologue, in which Max iterates what his next steps should be. The prime emphasis of the series is on shooting. Almost all of the gameplay involves using bullet time to gun down foe after foe. Levels are generally straightforward, with almost no key-hunting. However, some levels do incorporate platforming elements and puzzle solving. Ammo is in virtually constant supply, as all enemies drop some ammo when killed.

The game's A.I. is heavily dependent on pre-scripted commands. Most of the apparently intelligent behavior exhibited by enemies, such as taking cover behind obstacles, retreating from the player, or throwing grenades, is pre-scripted. Thus, when replaying a level, enemies perform exactly the same behaviors each time. Enemies who dodge and roll are typically the Mercenaries (operatives in black ski-masks), Aesir Security Guards, and Killer Suits (henchmen wearing business suits and sunglasses).

Higher difficulty levels are extremely challenging; the "Dead on Arrival" level limits the player to 7 saves per chapter, and the "New York Minute" level forces the player to complete each chapter before the allotted time — replenished by killing enemies — is exhausted. Upon completing the game on "Dead on Arrival", Max is transported to the "Final Battle", where the player then fights in perpetual bullet time against 20 Killer Suits — each armed with the Pancor Jackhammer automatic shotgun.

On the highest difficulty setting, Max is (from a game perspective) extremely fragile and dies after suffering only 5 pistol bullets, 3 assault rifle bullets, or 1 accurate shotgun blast. Most enemies have more endurance than the player character, with later enemies being able to survive 2 or 3 times as much damage as Max. The player can heal Max by consuming "painkillers", which the player collects and carries, until he/she decides to use them.

The game play of Max Payne revolves heavily around bullet time. When triggered, bullet time slows down the passage of time to such an extent that the movements of bullets can be seen by the naked eye — it is a form of slow motion. The player, although his movement is also slowed, is still able to aim and react in real time, providing a unique advantage over enemies. This makes avoiding being shot easier and enables Max to perform special moves, such as shoot dodges where Max leaps sideways through the air while continuing to fire his weapon. The player is able to combine the use of Shoot-Dodge and Bullet-Time into only one key/button, but in both games, the player can also determine separate keys for both actions, making it possible to remain in Bullet-Time after Shoot-Dodging or using Shoot-Dodge out of an active Bullet-Time.

Occasionally, when the last character of a group is killed, the viewpoint switches to a third-person view of his falling body with the camera circling around it. Likewise, the camera will often follow the path of a bullet fired from the sniper rifle.


The story begins in 1998 (23 years ago) with Max Payne, a New York City police officer, returning home to find that a trio of drug junkies high on a new drug called Valkyr have broken into his house. Max rushes to the aid of his family, but he is too late; his wife and newborn daughter have been murdered. After his family's funeral, he transfers to the DEA.

Three years later, he is an undercover operative inside the Punchinello Mafia family, which is responsible for the trafficking of Valkyr. B.B., a colleague in the DEA, gives Max a message asking him to meet Alex Balder, another DEA agent and a good friend of Max's, in the Roscoe Street subway station. When Max arrives at the subway, Alex is shot by an unknown assassin. As a result, the police consider Max the prime suspect in Alex’s death. Additionally, the Punchinello family finds out that he is a cop and wants him dead.

Max goes after Jack Lupino, who oversees Valkyr distribution for the Punchinello family. After gunning him down, he meets Mona Sax, a hired killer, who laces his drink with a sedative and leaves him to be found by the Mafia, who proceed to interrogate him.

Max escapes the Mafia and gains access to a shipment of guns belonging to the Russian mob after killing one of their traitors. Max uses these weapons to infiltrate the house of Don Punchinello, the head of the Mafia. Max discovers that the Don is only a puppet in the Valkyr market when the Don is killed by agents of Nicole Horne, CEO of Aesir Corp, in front of Max. Horne herself then injects Max with an overdose of Valkyr and leaves him for dead, leading to Max having a drug induced nightmare.

When he awakens, he pursues his only lead, Horne's last words, “Take me to Cold Steel”, heard just before he passed out. It leads him to a foundry with an old military bunker under it. He discovers that Valkyr was the result of a U.S. military project to improve its soldiers’ stamina and morale; the project was halted shortly after it began due to lackluster results. He also discovers that his wife accidentally found out about the project while working at the District Attorney’s office, so Horne let Valkyr junkies loose in Max's house.

After leaving the bunker, Max gets a call from B.B., who asks Max to meet with him at a garage lot. There, Max realizes that B.B. was the one who shot Alex, framing Max for his murder. A huge running gun-fight begins with Max giving chase through the garage lot. After killing B.B., Max gets a phone call from a man named Alfred Woden asking him to come to the Asgard building. Alfred is part of a secret society called the "Inner Circle". Woden informs Max about who Nicole Horne is and says the Inner Circle cannot pursue Horne because "their hands are tied." They ask Max to kill Horne in exchange for ensuring that any criminal charges against him are dropped. After the meeting, the room is stormed by Horne's agents. They kill every person in the room except for Max, who manages to escape, and Woden, who pretends to be shot.

Max enters the Aesir Corp. main office, where Horne is located. As he makes his way past security guards and mercenaries, he runs into Mona Sax again. She is shot by Horne's after refusing to shoot Max; yet her body vanishes. Max confronts Nicole and states that this whole thing started after Max's wife found out about the Valkyr project. Horne runs to the roof of the building, boarding a helicopter. Racing up to the roof, Max shoots the guy wires of the building's antenna; the antenna snaps off the roof and comes crashing down on the helicopter.

The NYPD arrive at the scene, arresting Max. As Max is being led out of the building by the SWAT team, he sees Alfred Woden. Knowing that Woden will ensure his safe passage through the judicial system, Max smiles genuinely.


Max Payne was well-received by critics with the PC and Xbox versions both scoring 89% on Metacritic. A BBC review said the game "is an atmospheric third-person shooter, clearly inspired by the cinematography of John Woo movies and The Matrix, with captivating graphics and edgy, [sic] action sequences," and praised the graphics, game play and detail in the game.

The PlayStation 2 version suffered from reduced detail and occasional slowdowns. While reviews for the version were not as good as the reviews for the PC and Xbox versions, its reviews were still positive.


A sequel called Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was released in 2003 (18 years ago). In 2008 (13 years ago), Max Payne, a movie based on the video game, was released, starring Mark Wahlberg (4 walls) and Mila Kunis. In Mar. 2009 (12 years ago), Rockstar Games announced Max Payne 3 to be released in Q1 2010 (11 years ago). It will be available on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


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