Review: Max Payne 2 - Xbox

The only console version you should play

Monday, December 15, 2003

I want to again preface the review by saying that this is not a review for Max Payne 2 as a whole. It is specifically for the Xbox build. Most of the time, the differences between console versions of games are so minimal it hardly warrants a different take. This is the first time that the disparity between versions is so big that this superior version gets a review all its own.


Max Payne 2 continues the trail of our cursed hero through yet another entanglement of love, betrayal and death. Experienced through the same dark presentation as the first, it's easy for fans to pick this up and go.

Max Payne perfected the now overused bullet time effect with flawless control and button mapping. It's no wonder they hardly tweaked the feature as it still works as well as the first game. This time, the more you kill in bullet time, the better and faster you can maneuver within it, making these gameplay elements less of a challenge and more about how many you can kill. Still, the element is as fun as it was before, even though it decreases the difficulty.

Garner your gaggle of weapons while roaming around in the highly interactive environments for an experience that is more enveloping than most run-and-gun shooters out there. There are a few new weapons to be seen, but the overall arsenal he comes across is the Max Payne standard.

For an action game, Max Payne was on the short end of a medium-length game at about ten hours. Max Payne 2 can be run through in about six hours. The New York Minute mode returns but the new Dead Man Walking mode proves to be more fun this time around. You will start a certain part of the game, most likely one with a spacious environment, and a plethora of enemies will keep coming at you. The objective is to kill as many baddies before you die. Good times.


The Xbox version definitely looks leagues better than the PS2 version, but really pales in comparison the PC's glorious textures. The textures here are muddy, pale and lack any sharpness. The foreground models of vehicles and characters leave much to be desired. The lighting effects aren't in real time, but rather scripted color schemes, which is disappointing for an Xbox game that can take easy advantage of such effects in the hardware.

That being said, the game runs flawlessly and hardly ever hiccups. The control is tight, responsive and rewarding. The load times only become a factor if you want to skip the cinemas, but really, for a game so highly touted on presentation, you'd be amiss to skip them anyway.

It's a pleasure to play this one time through, and if you only play console games, this is the only Max Payne 2 to check out. If you want the best representation of the story, you must check out the PC's take.

Graphics: B-
Sound: A-
First Play: B
Last Play: B-
Gameplay: B

Overall: 85% B