*WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*
You had to be living on Mars, with rocks in your ears and dust in your eyes not to know what the "Max Payne" video game was in 2001. The game which broke many boundaries in the VG industry, using 3rd person gameplay action, along with the a new system of fight known as "Bullet-time", a techque similar to the moves in "The Matrix" where times slows down while you spray bullets. Hitting Computer screens, and then later with console systems like PS2 and Xbox, MP was a astonishing hit and sold over 30 million copies within two weeks. Alas, then the cheesy ripoff games came around, abusing the "bullet-time" action to a point where the feature wasn't all very amusing than it was when it first appeared in 2001 in games. As to say, it was around that time that horrible movies, like "Charlie's Angels" and "Bulletproof Monk" used the techque from "Matrix" and "Payne", ultimately discouraging anybody who was interrested in the mode at all. So, Rockstar Games (creator of the first game and the ever-so popular violent game series, "Grand Theft Auto") along side Remedy Games, put their heads together in how to create a sequel to the game, which so many people wanted. But to make it better?
The original game was made particularly on a small budget, surprisingly. So small, that the in-game model for Max was the games head writer, Sam Lake (eh, not a bad lookin' dude). However, after Rockstar's success in the 2001-2002 season with games like "Grand Theft Auto III" and "GTA: Vice City", the game designers where given more. So how do you make it better? Bring back the slow-motion (and don't abuse it), bring in really good writing (we're talking Oliver Stone stuff) and get particularly better actors than the first. Thus, you get "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne"
The need for the sequel was due to the cliffhanger-esque ending the first game had, promising player after the credits "Max Payne's night of pain has just begun". Much like the original, the game starts off with the ending. It begins 2 years later after Max's shootout with Nicole Horne at the Aseir Plaza building, killing all the bad guys, except for one...Alfred Wooden. After confessing to the DEA, Max quits and rejoins the New York Police department, under Lt. Jim Bruvua, a small character from the first game. However, Max is still haunted by a woman that he met a while ago; Mona Sax, whom played a small role in the first game. When last left off, Mona was attempting revenge against the Punchinello family because of her sister being murdered by one of them. She ended up getting shot in the head while saving Max from a henchmen, but her body was never found. The game starts off with Max in a hospital, bruised and drugged. While trying to escape from their, he starts to hear voices from people, along with sexual fantisies of Mona. The beginning doesn't really make much sense, but as you progress, it all comes together. Because the game is told retrospectively, you're not very sure what happens next. But anyways, after aquiring a gun and killing a suspect, you run into Bruvua in the lobby, where a terrorist starts spraying bullets and kills a bunch of people, including Lt. Bruvua. It then flashes back 2 days earlier, when Max is investigating a possible mob war with Max's old friend Vladimir Lem (whom played a tiny part in the first game) and Vinnie Gognotti, an Italian mob boss and former weasel in the now defunct Punchinello crime family. It's during this time that Max runs into Mona, whom tells Max that she and him are both being targeted by an unknown source. Payne ends up meeting with Alfred Wooden, his enemy from the first game but now his ally, and Wooden tells Max that the Inner Circle (the secret society mentioned in the first game) maybe targeting it's individuals. Max goes against his authority with the force and his partner, Valerie Winterson, whom might be suspected being corrupted. Once against, Max is spun into a world of crime and action, but this time, it's a "Love" story. Or really, a "A Film Noir Love Story"
I really couldn't stop playing this, because it's that good. The bullet-time feature has been tweeked a little bit, making it more realiable and action-packed than the first (see it and you'll believe me). The surroundings are much better and this time around, one of the newest features, real world gravity motion, where as if you run ito a chair or some coke bottles, they move. Also, each enemy has their own style of how they fall after getting shot. Some fly backwards, some buckle down on their knees, but really there is no two death-sequnces alike (I know it sounds kinda stupid, but you just have to see it! It's amazing!) In fact, the first guy you kill in the game, flys backwards in slow motion and knocks over a bunch of hospital equipement and chairs. The bullet-time meter fills up automatically this time, instead of having to kill enemies to get it refilled. A new feature in reloading is when reloading after a quick gun battle in slow mo, Max twirls around (along with the camera, in 360 degrees) and reloads, "Matrix"-style. Also, you are able to use the Grenade or Molotov Cocktail as a secondary weapon by merely pressing the "F" button. Also, instead of a lead pipe to use when you're out of ammo, Max merely uses the butt of his gun as a weapon. Finally, the models and the facial features of the characters are MUCH better than before. Max no longer looks like Sam Lake, but for some reason, looks more like Treat Williams! Jim Bruvua now looks like Richard Riehle, the actor who played the paranoid office worker from "Office Space" and Alfred Wooden now looks like Colin Fox, the actor who used to be on the show, "Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal". Mona Fox, although we didn't really get a good shot of her in the first game because she wasn't an important character, now looks astonishingly like Jennifer Garner! Cool, kinda. The Mature Content in MP2 has definately risen since the 2001 predecessor, being that most M-rated video games are now like R-rated movies and this one is definately R-rated. The F-word is tossed around quite a bit, especially when there is someone who's panicking when you're near them. Violence manages to stay brutal as always, but it's probably not as grumsome, or disturbing, as the original. The sexual content however has definately risen. Max starts to have sexual dreams and fantasies about Mona, where he's having rough sex with her. There's also some corpses that full frontal nudity is shown. Probably the only thing that really turned me off from the original game was the disturbing and scary nature of the first game, i.e. the death of Max's wife and newborn baby. I hated playing the dream sequences where Max goes through a twisted maze, looking for his wife and child, while hearing both of them scream in pain. Nevertheless, I love how the writers and programmers use Dream sequences in a game, because they actually DO feel like dreams that you or I have; very strange, very odd. The dreams are no longer disturbing, but they are pretty freaky! One minute, you're in your house, the next, you're on a planet in the galaxy! Since most of the storyline tells about Max's disire for Mona, she appears a lot in them, but that's really aside from the point. Another interresting new feature is the ability to play AS Mona in some levels where Max needs help from her. There's nothing really different, other than it's mostly sharp-shooting. The game is slightly easier than the first, which I give thanks to because the first game was extremely hard, even for Novice players. It's, however, shorter than the film game, only spaning 3 chapters instead of the usual 4, but the new features make up for it. And for any of the fans of the first game who loved to watch the shows that appear on the TV whenever there was a Tv in the area, it's back! This time, there's more shows, along with the return of the hilarious "Twin Peaks" parody, "Address Unknown", which the game even features a level where Max tries to find Mona's house in a theme park ride that is based on the show. "The Fall of Max Payne" is awesome and completely lives up to the original. Along with a shocking ending, and a great song played during the closing credits ("Late Goodbye" by country/rock group, Poets of the Fall), fans of the original will NOT be disapointed. In fact, you'll probably get more than you expected. Can't wait for number 3, though!
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