Max Payne is the action game that brought you some of the coolest and most innovative features ever employed by a first-person shooter. This game keeps you enthralled in the story and constantly engaged in gunplay.
You play as Max Payne, a New York City cop who is trying to find some reason behind the brutal killing of his family. In order to find some truth behind all this mess, Max goes undercover and finds connections to a local drug called Valkyr. As the game goes on, Max ends up being tracked by fugitives and cops alike.
The best feature of this game had to be "Bullet Time". This is a very innovative tool that I doubt you will see in any other game, and it is so cool to watch during game play. You activate this combat feature by pressing the right mouse button, and when using it, the action around Max slows down, which allows him to aim his weapons in real-time, and sometimes you can even watch the bullets fly through the air in slow-motion. This one feature really made this game stand apart from any other action game that is out on the market.
There is another combat tactic that works with "Bullet Time", and it is called "Shoot Dodging". This move is activated by pressing the right mouse button in conjunction with the right, left, forward, or back button. Max will perform a slow-motion shooting dive in one of these directions when you use this combat feature.
There is a "Bullet Time" meter that is located at the bottom right-hand side of the gaming screen (shaped like an hour glass), and it would be wise to keep an eye on that meter. Each time you use "Bullet Time", it gets depleted, and if you totally run out of it, then Max cannot perform this move, and you must then wait until it replenishes itself.
The other great feature was the graphic novel. This is what drives the twisting roller coaster of a story. This novel will appear at certain times during the game, and introduce new surroundings, characters, plot twists, and reveal relevant information. As you might guess, there are various modes available on this novel, they include play, browse, fast forward and reverse -- even a button that will allow you to skip the graphic novel completely. I know that a movie type of novel might have been more appealing to some gamers, but I think it worked just fine. One thing to consider is that a feature like this was not likely to skip or freeze-up like you might get from a more movie based story-telling.
Max Payne will of course have a wide assortment of weapons to choose from. The number keys (1-6), will allow you to choose the weapons that Max can use. This includes just melee (fists), which is number key 1. Alternatively, if your mouse is one that has a wheel feature, than you can use the mouse wheel to scroll through the available weapons, which I found to be the easiest and quickest way to ready a weapon. Some of the weapons that Max will find and be able to use include the following: Beretta, Pump-Action Shotgun, Desert Eagle and Molotov Cocktails. Guns in this game will automatically reload, but if you wish to reload before that than you can do so by pressing the "R" key.
Max can heal himself at anytime by using Painkillers, and these can be found in many areas during the game. They will look like a medicine bottle with a "+" sign on them. Max can only have a maximum of 8 at anytime. He can quickly use them by pressing the "TAB" key. You should keep in mind that they only heal a fraction of his health, never totally heal Max.
Graphics were very good in this game, with detailed cities and other excellent looking game areas. When someone in the game gets shot, they actually fall back into desks, boxes, etc. There is also plenty of "blood and gore", and there is a parental lock feature during the startup dialog, in case you want to tone that down some.
Sound was excellent, with very realistic weapon sounds, and voice tracks for Max and other characters in the game, which seemed to really be tailored to them.
Gameplay was very good, with a full screen gaming area. Movement was keyboard driven, by using the arrow keys (or A, S, W, D). Other keys on the keyboard that you will be using include: C (crouch), Space (Jump), P (Pause), R (Reload), and Enter (Use or Action). Most of the items that Max will use the action key for are doors, drawers, and such -- but sometimes there will be an exclamation mark (!) above an item. If Max examines this item, than he will usually gain relevant information from them. Some of things in the game that you will see this mark above include a TV, Newspaper, or a Telephone.
Learning curve was one of the better things about this game because there is a full tutorial that can be accessed through the main menu. After completing the tutorial, you should be familiar with everything that is needed to be able to play Max Payne. I would highly suggest that gamers who are just starting to play action games take the time and go thru the tutorial.
Replay value was good, but not too high. The only incentive this game offers you, if you decide to play it again, is the harder modes that are unlocked once you play in the default mode (Fugitive). The harder modes you gain access too are the following: Hard-Boiled, Dead on Arrival, and New York Minute (which is actually timed). You DO have to complete Fugitive mode before you gain access to any of the others, which is why I consider the replay value not to be that high.
There was really only one problem I had with this game -- the dream sequences. There were not many in the game, so it was not really a big problem. During this part of the game, it seemed somewhat difficult to control Max.
Overall, this was an excellent game, with a few features that I am sure you will not see in any other action game, and that really made for an excellent gaming experience.