Developer: Remedy Entertainment
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Like many of the other games that were released this year, Max Payne experienced its fair share of delays leading up to its release. It was being developed at Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment for well more than three years, and that wait was made much harder by now-defunct publisher GodGames' tight clamp on all things Max Payne--the company released scarce few screenshots and gameplay details to a gaming public hungry to learn more about the intriguing game. So it was with a certain degree of surprise that we found Max Payne to be not only a superlative third-person shooter, but also one with a long-touted and extremely enjoyable "bullet time" feature. This slow-motion effect certainly isn't anything new--it's been made famous in a number of action movies like The Matrix--but Max Payne marked the first time that such a technique had been successfully executed as part of an action game. So much so, in fact, that Max Payne looks remarkably cinematic, even though it plays great. Certainly, the homage that it pays to its cinematic source material is clearly evident in everything from the game's pacing to the selection of visceral weapons available. The end result is a shooter that's almost as much fun to watch as it is to play.
Max Payne isn't just a mindless action game with a slow-motion novelty. The game tells the tale of a rogue cop on a mission to clear his name and avenge his family, using a series of still images that were done in the style of graphic novels. The plot is narrated with great, albeit melodramatic, voice acting as well. The extra effort that Remedy Entertainment put into development is plainly apparent in Max Payne, and ultimately, the game was well worth the wait.