Posted on 5 July 2024

Max Payne is Remedy Entertainment's second game, released in 2001. It's old enough that it needs a few mods to run properly; I installed the Complete FixPack. Even then, I still dealt with a couple of issues, most of which were related to the mouse. Every time I started up the game, I had to change the mouse settings or the acceleration went wild. I also had an issue with the camera "snapping" while looking around in certain areas. I never found out how to fix that.

There are no subtitles in the game! The only time dialogue is subtitled is in the comic sections. That was super surprising – all games I've played from the turn of the millennium were subtitled, even the ones that had full voice acting.

Max in a bar. A beer sign on the wall says 'Real Men drink Casey'.

I played both Alan Wake and Alan Wake 2 before Max Payne, and it's been neat to see how both those games incorporated references from Max Payne. There's Alan’s Alex Casey novel series, which are essentially the Max Payne games using a different name. There's the use of the number 665, the "neighbor of the beast". And there's New York City itself, which reminded me quite a bit of the Dark Place in Alan Wake 2. Max even refers to the city as Noir York City.

A comic section of the game that refers to 'Noir York City'.

I didn't realize that this was where Remedy started emphasizing the metafictional aspect of their works. At least, I'm assuming it started here. I've never played Death Rally.

A comic section of the game where Max finds a letter telling him that he's in a computer game.

The aforementioned meta aspects, as well as the nightmare levels, feel like the link between Max Payne and Remedy's later games. Even though Max Payne isn't part of the Remedy connected universe (Alan Wake & Control), it definitely had influences on them. There's a part of Control that feels quite similar to the nightmare levels, particularly in the repetition of it. The Norse influences – Woden, Valhalla, etc. – are continued in Alan Wake and Alan Wake 2 – Odin, Thor, Baldur.

Overall, I feel like my attitude on the game was rather mixed. I had my frustrations with the gameplay, but that was mostly due to the game being 23 years old. Though I initially assumed the game would be around 15-20 hours, I'm glad it was shorter. I finished it in less than 9 hours. If it had gone on any longer, I think it would have outstayed its welcome.