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Max Payne

Max Payne was in development at Remedy Entertainment from 1996 to 2001. Remedy, a game studio based in Espoo, Finland consisted of just two dozen people around that time. According to writer and face of the game its titular character Sam Lake – it was the story of a man imploding.

The starting point was this archetype of the private eye, the hard-boiled cop. The team wanted images and ideas seen in countless action and crime movies, even in pop culture generally. Just something that hadn’t been seen much in games. John Woo had this action where all this trash was flying in the air. That’s the gameplay style the team was after. Lake, however, wanted a more modern film noir style. He was after a deeper, more psychological story than existed in action games of the time. Something with both outer and inner turmoil.

Development of Max Payne spanned several years. The first version of the game was powered by the Quake 2 engine. However, As Remedy would soon discover, new graphics cards were capable of delivering near photorealistic realism. While many textures were drawn by hand first, eventually with the new engine, the photos some art guys made as reference were used as textures in game.

The game was released in July 2001 for Microsoft Windows and was ported to Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance later that year. In 2012 it was re-released for iOS and Android.

Screenshots, 1998


Max Payne is a third-person shooter in which the player assumes the role of its titular character, Max Payne. Almost all the gameplay involves bullet time-based gun-fights and levels are generally straightforward, occasionally incorporating platforming and puzzle-solving elements. The game’s storyline is advanced by the player following Max’s internal monologue as the character determines what his next steps should be. Several of the game’s levels involve surrealistic nightmares and drug-related hallucinations of Payne.

Initially, the player’s only weapon is a semi-automatic pistol. As the player progresses, access to other firearms is given, including melee and hand-thrown weapons. Some of the game’s weapons can be dual wielded. Max regains health by taking painkillers, which the player collects. The game’s AI is heavily dependent on pre-scripted commands: most of the apparently intelligent behavior exhibited by enemies (such as taking cover, retreating from the player, or throwing grenades) actually is pre-scripted.

The gameplay of Max Payne revolves around bullet time, a form of slow motion — when triggered, the passage of time is slowed down to such extent that the movements of bullets can be seen by the naked eye and enables Max to perform special moves. Although Payne’s movement is also slowed, the player is still able to position the aiming reticle and react in real time, providing an advantage over enemies. Occasionally, when the last character of an enemy group is killed, the viewpoint switches to a third-person view circling a falling body. Likewise, the camera may follow the path of a bullet fired from a sniper rifle.

For cutscenes, the developers found comic panels (with voice-overs by James McCaffrey) to be more effective and less costly to use in the than fully animated cinematics, noting that comic panels forced the player to interpret each panel for themselves and “the nuances are there in the head of the reader […] it would be much harder to reach that level with in-game or even pre-rendered cinematics,” and also found it easier to reorganize the comic panels if the plot needed to be changed while developing the game. The in-game engine is used for some cutscenes involving action sequences. The music for the game was composed by Kärtsy Hatakka.


The game centers around NYPD Detective Max Payne (voiced by James McCafferey and portrayed by Sam Lake) who witnesses his family murdered, attempts to avenge them, and is framed for killing his longtime friend and colleague Alex Balder. Max soon finds himself in a web of corruption, deception and becomes the hunted while uncovering a government conspiracy around the designer drug Valkyr.

Screenshots, 2001

PC System Requirements

● Pentium or AMD 700 MHz Processor
● 128 MB RAM
● 32 MB Direct3D compatible graphics card
● DirectX 8.0
● Sound card
● 1 GB Hard drive space
● OS: Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP

Related links

Max Payne Official webpage:

Remedy Entertainment:

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