Max Payne is the example that the most important factor to like games is not the theme, but execution of gameplay.
Initially having doubts as to what should i expect from a detective thriller game, i never expected to find out, that i might like games of this kind. I mean, i usually skip games with stories based on detectives, but Max Payne proved the fact, that the most important factor to like games is the perfect execution of gameplay, and not the premature dislike of the genre.
With that said, Max Payne must be one of the most solid games ever released when it comes to perspective story telling and creating a detective movie like atmosphere.. The game already had a legendary reputation and i had to check it out, especially after watching the movie of the same name recently. Unfortunately the movie totally trashed the reputation of the game, because it simply did not live up to the game's standards. Nothing new here, it would be a sensation if a movie would surpass a game.
I guess i won't bother with the full story, but for basics you play as a detective Max Payne seeking revenge for his murdered family and going footsteps on the crime lords and other criminal scum, that might be involved. You are relieved from your past duty and while working almost on your own, you find out that there is alot more to the family murder than it seems at first glance and now you discover new plans and motives for other crimes and activities, often involving mafia crime family inside wars and similar stuff.
In resume the game is divided into 3 chapters, which are quite long to finish, and once you will finish the game, you will unlock new difficulty levels and challenges. I have to say, that playing this game on the first available difficulty is already a very hard task, and once you realize that you just unlocked even heavier difficulties, you realize that it might be the hardest game ever.
Game cut scenes and in-game dialogues feature graphic novel like story telling and most sophisticated sound acting that could be done in a game.
You kinda feel like Max Payne might have been a novel, made into a game.
So what's so hyped about Max Payne? Well the fact is - when you will start playing, it will suck you in just like a good thriller movie. It begins with a good presentation of the story, that most movies lack today, and then drifts that story into third person camera view, which is now your responsibility. Since you expect this game to be a bit more serious than some ordinary "run and gun" shooter, you will be awarded by the detail level of realistic settings. You will begin your investigation in New York subway station and soon will feel like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. After learning the 3 person movement and seeing how almost every game object can be used and interacted - from drinking cans, shelfs, lockers, doors, windows to electronic devises and cars, you will pay respect to the game's outstanding graphics and detailed sound use. Soon enough the shooting thing will start, and then either you will learn it the hard way or will be prepared for the realism that all the fighting scenes bring; with that said there won't be time to enjoy the shooting moments and feel relaxed, this is as intense and real as it can be in a shooting game - gun down your opponent as fast as you can and try avoid being uncovered, because your adversaries can kill you with a single shot. Indeed you have to have some amazing reflexes in this game - the shooting action is so intense and fast that the slightest error can result in instant death. But this is good - you want the game to be as much realistic as can be, so in reality if you shoot your adversary with a 9 mm pistol in the head, it is 99 % chance that he will die. Or the same chance is if you blast your opponent with a 12 gauge double barreled shotgun up close - you don't really get up after that! So this is not really different in this game - several ordinary shots to the body will cause severe damage already, and you are lucky enough that this game features health packs, in shape of painkiller cans, those will restore your health slowly and in low amounts. To refresh your health after severe wounds you will need st least 4 packs. The physics effects are also very realistic - cool effects of in-game-sounds, debris falling from shooting and explosives, visible stains, shadows, dust and marks left after every gibberish action, breakable objects and finally packable guns left after every kill.
Unfortunately everything is not perfect, and the game suffers randomly from some minor shortcomings, those still can be forgotten. The biggest problem is that when a game tries to look and feel as realistic as can be, you would not expect to find any unrealistic looking details or behavior in it, but there was. For example you are used to the fact, that you can kill your adversaries fast with precise shooting, because they are all humans. But eventually there comes a guy, almost like game boss, that is spite being just a human absorbs bullets like a vending machine absorbs coins - not buying that! There is no explanation to his durability whatsoever. Second thing is - no-matter how good the AI is, at points it is overpowered to the point that enemies can shoot faster than it would take them to say ''A'' - again not buying that! Although game physics try to be very realistic, but at points things do not happen where you really expect them to.. Also it does not make sense that you could die instantly just by being touched by flames.. And last, if a game tries to be so realistic, you would think that to heal yourself, the health packs in this game should not be just ''painkillers'' - it does not make sense to stop bleeding with painkillers, does it? You would want the health packs to look more convincing. Lucky enough all these mentioned faults don't really spoil the awesome gameplay overall, but in the end Max Payne does not come out perfect, although there are hardly games who can beat it in it's criterias.
Now, the best part is in the end - Max Payne would not be just ''another'' detective that gets lucky to kill criminals just like that. He has a unique technique to slow down time and get advantage over his adversaries by doing so - you use a special combo by clicking a button and strafing your body to a certain direction to avoid bullets and while doing that, you take your own kills with maximum precision and minimal time spent. This feature is so awesome, because it is the first to be incorporated in a shooter game and Max Payne will be remembered for that as long as PC gaming goes.
So finally, instead of watching Max Payne movie, you should get the game and feel the real deal. Sure, the game is not perfect and is very hard, but at the same time it is really realistic, challenging and intense - it does not get any better than Max Payne.