Just a quick recap in case you're new to this series, the Nostalgia Corner is where I take old video games from the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's and review them to see if the game is still enjoyable and the mechanics have held up well. Many of these games I grew up with as a child, so if I don't give this game a stellar review, it's not because I hate the game, but because I genuinely don't feel the gameplay would appeal to the modern gaming standards. Their mechanics do not hinder my ability to adore the game, though. Well...sometimes they don't.
The rules here still stand, no games made post 2005, and no game that had a remake. And HD collections don't count as a remake. And graphics don't factor into the review unless I find them very obnoxious.
Number 1: Max Payne for the PS2. (2001)
Ah yes, I remember this game well. One of the first widely known "adult games". This game was for the kids who wanted something dark, and edgy. It stood out past the Super Marios, and the Crash Bandicoots, and the Megamans. A game that wasn't about colorful graphics, or the silly characters. This was the game that made people feel like a man, and acting like you liked it made you feel like you were superior.
A game with gun battles, and gore, and John Woo style action sequences. Basically all of your 80's style action movies rolled up into one of the darkest games to come around in the PS2's early life.
Max Payne focuses around the titular character, Max Payne, out for revenge against the city's criminal underground after a mafia style assassination attempt left his wife and newborn son murdered. A typical product of the times, in the plot, but was surprisingly new ground for a video game. The game advertised the use of Bullet time, which allowed the player to slow down time, allowing for more chances to react to incoming enemies, and also allowed you to leap in any direction away from or to cover to attack enemies. This was useful, although maybe it's just me, but this feels less required at times and more just a way to make the scene look cool and make you feel like a badass.
The gameplay is well...it still functions, I didn't really find it holding me back, but modern shooters will spoil many a gamer who'll curse the lack of a cover system or aiming mechanics. The aiming in this gun usually amounts to "Point your gun in the general direction and shoot." I swear sometimes, my gun can be aimed so that the bullet would reasonably fly 2 feet off to the side of an enemy, and I'd still hit the bastard somehow. There's no method of aiming, no targetting reticle, you pretty much just shoot and hope for the best. This was back before Resident Evil 4 come along and showed people how you do a third person shooter.
Although while this mechanic is as basic as it gets, it's not frustrating. Hell, just get the double barrel shotgun and the blast radius and power of this beast will quickly make up for that. Seriously, overpowered doesn't even begin to describe this monster of a gun. You'll be clearing out entire rooms of enemies in a few seconds with this fucking thing. And the game just keeps giving you ammo for it.
Speaking of guns though, I have noticed the damage is a little inconsistant at times. Sometimes with the shotgun, I've noticed I can insta-kill an enemy from clear across the room (Which is absurd for a shotgun) but when the enemy gets closer to me, it amounts to if the game's going to remember that I'm holding the most powerful close ranged weapon currently in existance or not, because I can either lay an enemy flat or for some reason, need to shoot the same enemy twice.
The voice acting in this game really sucks me out of the experience. Max's voice is okay, although a little dry, but the enemy NPCs all have the most over the top Brooklyn accents this side of Bugs Bunny. I can't take my enemies seriously when they all talk like hyperactive Joe Pescis. I'm not even making this up, EVERY SINGLE ONE talks like that. I can't tell if I'm playing a game about a traumatized vigilante taking on the drug underworld or a parody of that.
The script doesn't help. "Oh my god, oh my god, ya shot me, AAAAHH!" <--Actual line of dialogue from a cutscene.
"I made like Chow Yun Fat." Ummm...I don't...I don't get it. I mean, I know who Chow Yun Fat is, but what's the joke? Is it supposed to be a reference to one of the 8 million movies that guy's been in?
What is there to say about this game's script...It's stupid. It's ungodly stupid. But it's that special kind of stupid where it goes full circle and becomes awesome in the process...It makes the entire game, flaws and all, definitely worth playing through, but I don't think that was the game's intention. I think this game was actually trying to be serious, but Batman quality writing it ain't. I found myself laughing at scenes I wasn't even supposed to.
Let's talk about the bullet time, it is as all bullet times in games are, an ability to slow down time to give the player an advantage over enemies. One problem, the game is not built around this mechanic. I've gotten through this game barely ever needing it. I mean, it's there, it can be useful, the action flips you do with it are pretty cool, but I found it weird that the game that introduced bullet time to the gaming market is a game where bullet time is completely unnecessary. Guess we gotta start somewhere though, eh?
But let's be honest here. As critical as I am being of this game, I actually do greatly enjoy it. It's a fun game I love coming back to, and while it's controls are outdated, they're not the point they work against you, so it's still a pretty fun game.
The simplistic action, the horribly cheesy dialogue, the over the top nature of Max Payne, while not making it an ageless game, does make it a game I am proud to play and admit that I like. Does it hold up by today's standards? Oh good god no. Is it enjoyable nonetheless? Yes, and if you're interested in the game, I still quite recommend it, if only because it's still really fucking fun, if because of some unintended laughs.