Remembering Max Payne

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Over at The Escapist columnist Andy Chalk has got himself on an excellent little bit of a nostalgia trip, reminiscing about the classic Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.

If you’ve ever played the game this piece is a must read – it’s the kind of writing that’ll make you want to install the game and play it all over again. What’s most interesting though is the point Chalk makes about maturity in games. To quote liberally:

“A lot of games these days carry a “Mature” label, typically for violent content and very rarely because they’re actually mature in any real sense of the word. Max Payne 2 dared to break that mold; the violence is still very much intact (and cool), as are all the elements of a typical action thriller, but the game goes beyond that, examining the motivations of a “hero” who’s been irreparably broken by the events of his past.”

It’s a game that was, both thematically and technologically, ahead of its time. Chalk argues that “more so than virtually any other shooter on the market before or since, Max Payne 2 is a legitimately adult game.

And I can’t say I disagree with him. Max as a character always intrigued me, especially in the second outing where the character is just this utterly broken, burnt out husk of a man. The game itself is also mercilessly dark and the ending, depending on what difficulty level you play it on, is either bleak or slightly less bleak. And the writing and dialogue of all the characters is razor sharp. Maturity? Max Payne 2 has it in spades.

Check out the rest of Chalk’s article where he posits that it was this level of maturity that led to directly to the game’s lacklustre sales performance (which is probably why we haven’t heard anything about a Max Payne 3).

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