I have always liked the character Max Payne. After seeing Max Payne 3 trailers, I thought it looked awesome and I was willing to give him another try. Safe to say I hated the game almost 10 years ago. In the present day my hatred has grown tenfold. The control is awful and too jumpy, Max always moves at his top speed, making the times when precision for the poorly placed obstacles and platforms a real headache and almost unplayable. The aiming isn't very good either and you really don't have to be all that accurate as the game pretty much allows you to kill enemies as long as you shoot in their general vicinity. There are moments when you are expected to make long jumps, but the standard jump is atrocious and never clears the distance needed, for instance there is a moment when you have to jump from a rooftop to the top of a train, if you just jump with the R2 button, you will not make it and you will die. The trick is to use the L1 button and do the bullet time dive to make the jump. The CPU guy you are chasing makes the jump easily and it makes you believe you can make the jump the same way when is pretty much impossible.
Story: The story starts off as you are Max Payne of course. Cut-scenes play out as pictures used to create a graphic novel look. The game has a dark gritty noir feel to it, Max speaks in ridiculous yet somehow cool metaphors that are so constant it shows that someone put a lot of thought into them as nothing is really said in layman's terms. Max Payne, a cop returns home one day to find that his wife and new born baby have been murdered by junkies high on a drug called V or Valkyr. Afterwords he comes DEA to investigate into the death of his family, he is eventually framed for murder and running from the mob and the police. Along the way he knocks off the Punchinello crime family, discovers more into the history of the drug and eventually avenges his fallen family.
Gameplay: For the most part the game can be very fun, as I stated earlier the controls aren't what you'd call great by any means, Max moves too fast and the aiming could be better but for a game from 2001 I guess I can let it slide. Where I grew to hate this game comes from the poorly placed moments when you have to scale rafters, walk on roof ledges and jump across molten lava (yeah, there is a part where you have to jump across lava pits) and when you have to jump and dodge lasers in hallways. These parts are awful due to the bad control. they also slow the game down too much. Speaking of slowing the game down, you can skip the graphic novel moments but not in game cut-scenes so if you die on a part be prepared to have to watch that same cut-scene EVERY time. Also when you die the loading screen takes forever, add that with having to skip novel parts and then watch cut-scenes and you will be very aggravated as it takes forever to get another chance. There are also so many parts that aren't self explanatory at all and you will find yourself retracing your steps and wondering around aimlessly until you eventually get it. This game also has a lot of deaths due to trial and error, most of the time I died because of something I had no indication of killed me like explosions and fire just erupting while you are walking in a normal area. The AI isn't very bright but for the time they were ok, they flip tables over and make cover but they often bum rush you and have little strategy to defeating them. Bullet time is fun and often very helpful in this game, you trigger it and time slows for a certain amount of time making it easier to clear out a group of enemies. You can also bullet time dive which looks awesome and comes in handy for jumping into a room to catch enemies off guard.
The drug overdose dream levels are a real pain as well, seriously they almost single handedly ruin the game and anyone who has played them will know what I meant, mazes, very narrow blood trails you have to walk with some of the worst controls conceivable. I absolutley hate these parts with a passion.
Graphics: For an early PS2 game they looked okay, today the game is very ugly, Max has a permanent over the top smirk, the faces are pictures pasted on polygon heads and textures aren't very good looking, I can remember when I first played it years ago and saying to myself its an ugly looking game and I'm not even a big graphic nut like most people.
Sound: Gun sounds are what you'd expect, the dramatic music during novel parts has a cool feel and the enemies have over the top cliche thug voices that actually give the game more charm. Max Payne has a grizzly and gravely voice which drives home all of his crazy over the tops metaphors, the only thing is the voices used don't seem like they'd come from the people who are saying them. Max, for example, is a skinny guy he makes these smart-ass faces and he does not look like he would sound like he does.
All in all the game has not aged well and even when it was fairly new I didn't really like the gameplay. The bad seems to outweigh the good in this game. I applaud the direction and style they achieved but some questionable gameplay choices and elements bring this game down, I also ran into a lot of bugs as well. Its pretty cheap these days and I'd only recommend it to people who are into this style of story and dark gritty crime dramas, as for any average gamer I'd say go somewhere else. I am now on to the sequel and I hope it is MUCH improved over this one.