Max Payne

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Max Payne
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Developer(s) Remedy Entertainment (PC),
Rockstar Toronto (PS2),
Rockstar Vienna (Xbox),
Rockstar Leeds (GBA)
MacSoft (Mac)
Publisher(s) Gathering of Developers (PC),
Rockstar Games (PS2, Xbox, GBA),
MacSoft (Mac)
Release date(s) July 25, 2001
Genre Third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature (M)
Platform(s) PC (Windows), Xbox, PS2, Game Boy Advance, Mac OS

Max Payne is a third-person shooter computer game developed by Finnish company Remedy Entertainment, produced by 3D Realms and published by Gathering of Developers in July, 2001. Ports later in the year for the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 2 were published by Rockstar Games. A Macintosh port was published in 2002 by MacSoft. A Dreamcast version of Max Payne was cancelled.

A sequel to the highly popular shooter quickly followed in 2003 entitled Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.

Contents

Overview

The Max Payne series has a major cinematic influence: the Hong Kong action movie genre, particularly the work of director John Woo, which features a great deal of slow-motion, nearly balletic violence. The series is also often perceived to have been greatly influenced by The Matrix, but in actuality, this is not the case. Although the first game was released two years after The Matrix came out, this is a coincidence; Max Payne was already in development long before The Matrix became a household name, and slow-motion was a major gameplay element from the beginning. While the movie certainly influenced public perception of the game, it did not have a great impact on the game itself, although calling the slow-motion effect "bullet time" was probably inspired by the term being used to describe the similar effect in The Matrix. However, one level, titled "Nothing to Lose" was a homage to The Matrix; the level is similar to the famous lobby shootout scene in the film.

The games' stylish cinematography and choreography is combined with heavy film noir and pulp fiction influences in characters and dialogue. Accordingly, Max Payne is rife with artistically orchestrated, often strangely graceful gunplay. The games are dark and noir-style, following Max Payne, a troubled cop with internal and external conflicts in a dark sinister New York City.

Within the games, there are mini-plots in the form of television shows that the player can follow. Several of the shows are based on other, real-life shows.

Gameplay

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Camera rotating around a character in bullet-time after being killed by Max.

The prime emphasis of the series is on shooting. Almost all of the gameplay involves utilizing bullet-time to gun down foe after foe. Levels are generally straightforward, with almost no key-hunting, puzzle-solving, or platform-jumping. Ammo is in constant supply, as all enemies drop ammo when killed.

The original Max Payne at times can be a highly difficult game. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, Max is extremely fragile and dies after only 5 pistol bullets, 3 assault rifle bullets, or 1 shotgun blast. Contrary to most FPS games, most enemies are actually more durable than the player character, with later enemies being able to survive 2 or 3 times as much damage as Max. Survival is highly dependent on the use of bullet-time, but bullet-time is limited and can run out if over-used (although every enemy killed by the player earns a little more bullet-time). It can be difficult for many gamers to get through the later levels without quicksaving and quickloading multiple times.

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 100% pre-scripted. Thus, when replaying a level, enemies perform exactly the same behaviors each time.

Bullet-time

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Enemies move more slowly in bullet-time relative to the player, making headshots and other gunplay easier.

The gameplay 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 shootdodges where Max leaps sideways through the air while continuing to fire his weapon.

Occasionally, when a significant character is killed, the point of view switches to a third-person view of their falling body with the camera circling around it.

Max Payne (Game Boy Advance)

The Game Boy Advance version of the game was developed by Mobius Entertainment Ltd, now known as Rockstar Leeds. Since it was developed on a far less powerful platform, the GBA version differs greatly from the PC and console versions: The game is based on sprite graphics and is shown from an isometric perspective. The gameplay features have remained mostly the same, however, and is actually almost exactly like the original, aside of the perspective change. The story also remained the same as in PC and console versions, though some levels from the original are omitted. The game even includes quite a large part of the original's graphic novel sections, complete with voice-overs.

The character

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Max Payne modeled after creator Sam Lake.

The character of Max Payne for the first game was modeled after Sam Lake, the writer of Max Payne. It is often joked that Max had a constipated expression — this joke is even mentioned in the sequel. For Max Payne 2, however, Lake was unavailable, forcing Remedy to use actor Timothy Gibbs to be the model for Max Payne. The voice of Max Payne was played by actor James McCaffrey in both games. McCaffrey is probably best known for playing the lead role in the TV show Viper (1994-1996).

Max Payne

"A fugitive undercover cop framed for murder, and now hunted by the cops and the mob. Max is a man with his back against the wall, fighting a battle he cannot hope to win. Prepare for a new breed of deep action game. Prepare for pain..."

It started three years ago; Max came home after a long day at work. No one answered when he came in the door of his home. Upstairs he found his wife and daughter murdered at the hands of junkies high on a new designer drug called Valkyr. He swore revenge against the drug that drove people to this. He joined the DEA as an undercover cop, infiltrating the Mafia and the underground world of New York. But he was framed, accused of killing his long time friend and partner, Alex. Wanted by the cops and with no other options available, Payne goes on a blood-soaked thrill-ride through New York, working his way from lesser thugs to the bigger crime bosses to get to the top, and expose the true identity of those responsible for the induced hell that is Valkyr.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

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Max Payne modeled after actor Timothy Gibbs.

When we last saw Max Payne, he was being led away in the back of a police car, about to face charges for his two night killing spree in which he killed upwards of 600 people, even though they all had criminal records. However, Max was eventually cleared of all charges, thanks to his relationship with a very influential member of society, Senator Alfred Woden. A few years have passed, and Max has returned to work for the NYPD as a homicide detective. However, during a routine murder investigation he finds himself face-to-face with the fugitive Mona Sax, a woman he thought dead. Max and Mona team up to solve the answers to Max's past that left his wife and child dead. Between them and the answers they seek rests an army of scum and murderous thugs in New York City's underground.

Max Payne 3

The ending to The Fall of Max Payne teases with a message at the end of the credits proclaiming, "Max Payne's journey into the night will continue", but the story itself seems to be over. Perhaps the reason to this is that the original development crew, Remedy Entertainment is not going to continue working with the Max Payne franchise.

Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games has announced there will be a sequel, but the developer so far is unknown.

Names from Norse Mythology

Most of the major characters and elements in the game (except for Max) are named for figures from Norse mythology. Although this is often seen as a nod to the Scandinavian heritage of the game's Finnish development company, Remedy Entertainment, this is something of a misconception: although Finland is often lumped together with the other Nordic countries, Finnish mythology actually differs considerably from its Norse counterpart. It's more likely that these themes were simply incorporated into the game out of appreciation for their iconic status and recognizability.

  • The Valkyr drug turns its users into adrenaline-charged killers who hallucinate death imagery. The Valkyries of Norse mythology were warrior-women and heralds of death. Although the Valkyries were all female, the Valkyr addicts seen in the game are all male. Project Valhalla is the government-funded conspiracy that created Valkyr. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the festhall in the afterlife to which those who died in honorable battle are assigned after death. The computer network in the military base is named Yggdrasil, referring to the tree that connected the nine worlds in Norse cosmology.
  • The Aesir Corporation, named for the primary pantheon of Norse gods. The Aesir Corporation is based in the Asgard Building, named for the realm of the Norse gods. The head of the Aesir Corporation is Senator Alfred Woden; Woden (or Odin) was the chief of the Norse gods. Both are one-eyed tricksters and manipulators. Alfred Woden faked his own death in the process of manipulating Max into destroying the rivals for his power; Odin died and returned to life to gain power and knowledge.
  • DEA agent Alex Balder, Max's partner, was shot by an assassin. In Norse mythology, Balder (or Baldur) was killed when a sprig or arrow of mistletoe was shot or thrown into his chest. B.B., who betrayed Alex Balder, may be analogous to Loki, the god of deception who arranged Baldur's death.
  • Jack Lupino's name and behavior may be a nod to the Fenris Wolf. Lupino (derived from lupin, "wolf") is an apocalypse-obsessed Satanist who is based out of the Ragna Rock nightclub; the Fenris Wolf is associated with the legend of Ragnarok, in which he battles against the gods on the side of evil.
  • Nicole Horne may be named after Honir.

External links

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