As the iconic Max Payne franchise celebrates turning 20, it’s fun to look back at what made the game so great. There wasn’t really anything else quite like the bullet-time, slow-motion shooter when it released back in 2001. It was a gritty story of personal revenge told through the medium of a comic book-style storyboard, with Max’s grizzly voice narrating the journey. Let’s take a look back at some of the best Max Payne moments ever.
After the release of the Matrix in 1999, everyone wanted a piece of the bullet-time goodness. Max Payne was no different. Over the course of the trilogy you do a hell of a lot of slow-motion shooting, and it doesn’t really ever get old. However, the first time you got to experience it was something special. Launching yourself forward and having everything slow down around you at the touch of a button as your peppered bullets hurtled towards your enemies was a fantastically cinematic feeling.
Who can forget that wonderful grimace from the first Max Payne game? We all know Max has been through hell, so it’s understandable to see him looking so pained all the time. But it wasn’t just his contorted face that sold us on his pain.
The classic comic book storytelling accompanied by Max’s monotone narration throughout really helped sell the experience. Max Payne was a dark and grim tale and you see that through his eyes, experiencing the pain first hand. The narration is iconic, and hearing it again immediately whisks you back into the world of Max Payne. Additionally, the sombre score used throughout to underpin the whole tragedy of the series is *chefs kiss*.
Pain and Suffering
With all of the emotional and physical pain and suffering Max goes through in the first game, he needs some sort of satisfying ending. When you finally get face to face with Nicole Horne – the main antagonist and the person who is ultimately behind the death of your family – in the Pain and Suffering mission, it’s a gratifying moment. Not only that, it’s also a really cool final mission. You face off against the “Killer Suits”, hiding and running from a helicopter that’s chasing you across floors as you try to catch Nicole. Finally, you bring her down with a completely over-the-top Hollywood ending where you crash a massive pylon on top of her helicopter. It kicks butt.
The Max “John McClane” Payne era
By the time we get to Max Payne 3, Max has adopted a sort of John McClane look from Die Hard. Like most 80’s action heroes, he’s getting too old for this “stuff”. He lacks remorse and seemingly doesn’t care about most people anymore. But he’s still a badass, sliding down roofs whilst shooting people in slow motion, and jumping from one speeding train to another just in the nick of time. Although to be honest, he’s not in a good way, both physically and mentally; remember, Max Payne is a dark tale.
However, that doesn’t stop him from shooting a grenade in midair, chasing down a jet and taking down the bad guys. He does spare one of them in the end too, so maybe he’s grown. The entire final game of the trilogy is an epic send off for a guy who probably just wants a cold beer.
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