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Max Payne 2

Stephen "ScS" Sutton

I just finished what must be the best video game I have ever played. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is the sequel to the smash hit game of the same name. This game is a brilliant merger between graphic art, animation, state of the art violence and psychological film noir style.

Max Payne is a brilliant example of character development, especially this newest edition. The game follows the story of a man who lives in the aftermath of revenge; loved ones and enemies alike are dead, he has nothing to live for - or so he thinks. Payne is thrust back into a world of violence, self destruction and, of course, pain in a quest for love, for life, and for sanity.Throughout the game there are a series of interesting characters with personality traits that make them memorable. Everyone has a motivation that is explored in interesting subplots; like the villain who is out to snuff his mentor, a figure he considers a father, out of pure anger and dejection. Indeed, it’s the subplots that make this game so excellent.

As funny as it sounds, TV makes a big appearance in the game, and if you stop and listen you can hear the sounds of individual stories unfolding. The best one is what is entitled "The Return to Sender Marathon" which showcases reruns of a cancelled TV show which actually made an appearance in the 1st video game. The show, Address Unknown, is the story of a man who is trapped in a place called "Noir York City" chasing his evil doppelganger called John Mirra (a take on John Mirror, or Mirror in the John).In some parts of the game you actually visit a theme park based on the show, wandering through a fun-house mental asylum that will surely haunt your thoughts.

There are some pretty gut wrenching moments, such as the dream sequence where Payne watches on TV as one of the NPCs is forced to play a trivia game or have a bomb taped to his head explode. As he watches, there is a little doll sitting beside the TV, and at the gruesome end, the Doll's head pops off - a twisted parody.

Too often in D&D we overlook a rational for the adventurers. Players and DMs just take for granted that these “heroes” just go around killing people and taking their stuff. Max Payne 2 shows you a good look at modern day warriors, waging a battle as violent as any D&D adventure but with a rational. Moreover, the game is a very psychological story; the hero confronts his own feelings of survivor’s guilt, paranoia and lust. From beginning to end, you really care about the character and want to see him through this dark journey of torment. The ending is a masterful mix of tragedy and personal triumph, surely an ending to try to emulate for your next game.

In summary, not only is Max Payne 2 an excellent video game, it is an addictively engaging story. The plot and the characters are the best examples of what an adventure, particularly a Ravenloft adventure, should emulate. If you’re a sucker for a good story, pick this game up.5 out of 5.


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