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Jefklaks Codex

Max Payne Review

(This review is originally written in Dutch by Newkid86, in 2002)

As the body of the mafia boss collapses behind his desk, the door behind me is thrown open and the guards storm in. The blood is pumping through my head, I turn around in a blur and slowly see the first bullets coming my way… hold it! Why do all MP reviews start like this? Everyone gradually knows that there is bullet time in it, isn’t it? No need to keep yacking about the damn thing ;-). Nywayz, having said this: on with the review…


In MP, you play an agent seeking revenge after some junkies killed his family. He goes undercover with the mafia and slowly but surely tries to find out who the culprits are. Obviously it has to go wrong somewhere (otherwise we have no game ;-)) and the mafia finds out that he is a cop. In revenge, they kill and blame his only police contact. In short: both the police and the mafia are going after him. So in the beginning you will end up in an ‘I against the rest’ situation, but as the story unfolds you will discover that everything is more complicated than you would initially think.

Budget time

The big selling point for MP is, of course, bullet time. You can slow down the time at any time, but to make it not too easy, you have a meter at the bottom of your screen that indicates how much bullet time you have left. You can replenish that by killing opponents. When I first heard about this I had my doubts. Wouldn’t it be another extra that you almost never use in the end? How wrong I was. The whole game IS just bullet time! One frantic gunfight follows another and all of this wouldn’t look out of place in The Matrix. Often you watch with your mouth open as everything around you is shot to rubble as you duck away from a barrage of bullets. The whole system is just brilliant and the whole game is built around it. A small drawback is that the levels are often no more than a few rooms connected by corridors. Now this is not really noticeable and there is more than enough variation in the levels to keep them interesting. The enemies that populate the levels are generally quite smart, but you should not expect highlights from the AI. It is also a pity that they cannot hide themselves like you can.

All this is shown by the Max-FX engine which proves to be very powerful. The graphics are open-mouthed and the sound only enhances this “WOW” feeling. When you see what this engine is capable of, you immediately know why MP has been working on for so long.

What about MODs?

The makers have also done everything to support the MOD scene as much as possible, eg by adding some very powerful editors to the CD. This has not missed its target and as a result there are some promising MODs in development. Fortunately, because the game itself is far too short. On a weekend most of them have already raced through the three chapters and slow motion cannot do much about that. For the rest, I cannot think of any significant disadvantages. Perhaps it becomes a bit monotonous at times, but just at such moments a plot twist of format is unleashed on you so this is never disturbing.


Max Payne has become a beautiful game where everything is really right. Gameplay, graphics, sound… everything adds to the dark atmosphere that makes this game so much fun. The fact that it is a bit too short is handily compensated by the MODs that are coming and with that the biggest drawback is immediately eliminated. A must-have for every action fan!

  • Gameplay: 9
  • Graphics: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Addiction level: 9
  • Total: 91/100

Minimum requirements: PII 400 or equal, 128 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 3D Accelerator, 16MB VRAM, 800 MB disk space, mouse, soundcard, DirectX 8.0.

(Originally written by Newkid86)

Categorized under: max payne review


I'm Jefklak, a level 35 Retro Gamer, and I love the sight of experience points on old and forgotten hardware. I sometimes convince others join in on the nostalgic grind. Read more about me here.

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