Max Payne for Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
Over four years in the making, the highly anticipated Max Payne adds a new aspect of stylistic storytelling to the action-based 3D shooter. The game was developed solely as a single-player adventure and the designers at Finland's Remedy Entertainment focused on creating an experience that would make players care at least as much about the main character as they would about finish times or frag counts. Tried and true devices of pulp fiction and film noir are employed in this computer game, drawing the player into the dark story through gripping motivations of revenge and self-preservation.
Technically, Max Payne offers its own brand of state-of-the-art graphics and sound. Detailed, high-resolution environments are deformable, as walls become riddled with bullet holes of various sizes and shreds of paper, plastic, plaster, and tile fall to the ground, each in their own distinctly realistic manners. Admittedly inspired by the cinematic works of John Woo and Sam Peckinpah, the game applies stylistic techniques borrowed from action films as well, not only to add to the mood of the story but also to enhance gameplay. The title's signature "bullet time" gunfights can be played out in slow motion to provide a familiar dramatic effect and also to allow the player a chance to better situate himself and pick out prime targets in the chaos of flying lead.
While the storyline still determines the events that need to happen in each mission and level, the Max Payne is designed to allow the player to decide exactly how goals are accomplished. While the game must adhere to the linear nature of a plot-driven experience, it strives to also allow an engaging sense of freedom and control through expansive level design. Large, seamless areas are intended to offer the player a sense of new space to conquer as he sees fit, whether methodically sneaking about to avoid detection or running quickly and violently through a swarm of enemies with both guns blazing.