Max Payne 1 is a third person shooter video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Gathering of Developers in July 2001 for Microsoft Windows. Ports created later in the year for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox and a tie-in for the Game Boy Advance were published by Rockstar Games. A Mac OS port was published on 16 July 2002 by MacSoft in North America and Feral Interactive in the rest of the world. There were plans for a Dreamcast version of Max Payne, but they were canceled due to the discontinuation of the console. The game was re-released on 27 April 2009 as a downloadable game in the Xbox Originals program for the Xbox 360. The game was also re-released in 2012 as a downloadable game in the PlayStation Store for the PlayStation 3 under the PS2 classics banner, iOS, Android, and in April 2016 for the PlayStation 4 as a PS2 emulated downloadable game in the PlayStation Store.
The game centers on former NYPD police detective Max Payne, who attempts to solve the murder of his wife and daughter in connection to a drug trafficking case involving a mysterious new designer drug named “Valkyr”. While doing so, Max is entangled in a large and complex conspiracy, involving a major pharmaceutical company, various organised crime syndicates, a secret society and the U.S. military. It features a gritty neo-noir style and uses graphic novel panels (with voice-overs) as the primary means of telling the game’s story, drawing inspiration from hard-boiled detective novels by authors like Mickey Spillane. The game contains many allusions to Norse mythology, particularly the myth of Ragnarök, and several of the names used in the game are allusions to Norse mythology. The gameplay is heavily influenced by the Hong Kong action cinema genre, particularly the work of director John Woo, and it was one of the first games to feature the bullet-time effect popularized by The Matrix.
Max Payne received very positive reviews and was praised for its exciting gunplay and use of noir storytelling devices, with some citing it as one of the best video games ever made. The game won a large number of accolades upon its release, including the BAFTA Award. As of 2011, the Max Payne series has sold over 7.5 million copies. It later inspired a feature film of the same name.
The player assumes the role of the titular character, with gameplay revolving around the use of the bullet-time mechanic during firefights — when triggered, time is slowed down to such an extent that the speed at which bullets and other projectiles move is slow enough to be seen by the naked eye. Although Payne’s movement is also slowed, the player is still able to move and react in real-time, allowing them more time to plan and react during firefights.
Players are initially armed with a 9mm pistol, but as the game progresses, other weapons become accessible, with some weapons able to be dual-wielded for an increase in firepower at the cost of increased ammo consumption. When hurt, Max can replenish health by taking painkillers, which can be found throughout the levels.
Progression through the levels is linear, occasionally incorporating platforming and puzzle-solving elements. The game’s storyline is often advanced in-game by the player following Max’s internal monologue as the character determines what his next steps should be, breaking between – and sometimes within – levels in order to deliver larger story beats via graphic novel-styled interludes.
In addition to the campaign, the game also features the “Dead on Arrival” game mode, which limits the player to only seven saves per chapter, and the “New York Minute” mode, which forces the player to complete each chapter within an allotted time. Upon completing the game on “Dead on Arrival”, the player unlocks “The Last Challenge” (also known as “End Combat” or “Final Battle” in other releases), which puts the player in a firefight with perpetual bullet time against the “Killer Suit” hitmen seen during the later parts of the game’s campaign.