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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Dark, gritty world of Max Payne
max payne screenshot
Max Payne: Full of painstakingly rendered details
By BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida

If you ever wanted to play the lead character in a movie about a fugitive cop in the mean streets of New York, then Max Payne is the game for you.

It is an atmospheric third-person shooter, clearly inspired by the cinematography of John Woo films and The Matrix, with captivating graphics and edgy, action sequences.

Combining animated film clips and a graphic novel, it tells the story of an undercover police officer and his struggle to clear his name in a New York gripped by the century's worst blizzard.

You play Max Payne, the lead character in this gritty American film noir, on a mission to clear your name after being framed for the brutal murder of your wife and baby daughter.

Dark and brooding

Most of the gameplay revolves around shooting and Max has an impressive array of weapons at his disposal - from pistols to submachine guns, shotguns to sniper rifles and from grenades to Molotov cocktails.

Max Payne screenshot
Much of the gameplay revolves around shooting
The game has a cinematic quality which plunges you into the sleazy criminal underworld of New York and the use of a graphic novel to fill in gaps in the storyline adds to a dark and brooding look.

Max Payne is full of painstakingly rendered details that make you feel you are in a real world.

After a gun battle, bullet casings litter the floor and walls are riddled with bullet holes.

In a seedy hotel, you can turn on a vibrating bed, flush the toilet or turn on the television to catch the latest news bulletin.

The game keeps you on edge, as you watch out for gangsters lying in wait or for booby-trapped doors.

Slow motion action

The main innovation in the game is the use of bullet time, which temporarily puts everything in slow motion, as in The Matrix.

Max Payne
Story told in graphic novel format
This is especially useful when you are in a room full of gangsters and the odds are against you, as while the action is slowed down, you can still aim as quickly as normal.

Max Payne is worth trying, if only for this feature. With bullet time, the sounds of gunfire become muted and you hear a rush of air and the pounding of Max's heart.

But playing a game like this comes at a price.

Max Payne places heavy demands on your computer so unless you have a high-spec machine, forgot about it.

Finnish developer Remedy says the minimum requirements are a 450 MHz compatible processor and 96 MB of Ram.

To fully enjoy the gameplay and the graphics, you really would need a computer with at least a 700Mhz processor and 128MB of Ram.

You also need plenty of space on your hard drive. The minimum installation is a 500 MB, while the full installation is more like 750 MB.

Max Payne is published by GodGames for the PC

See also:

21 Sep 01 | Reviews
Max Payne: Your views
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