I just finished Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, which was a Steam special awhile back.  It has mirrors.  As I’m used to seeing shiny surfaces in games that don’t reflect the player, this impresses me.  Here’s one, showing Max.   This one is not a lagomorph.

I passed a mirror. It reflected the shadows deep within me.

Max (like Max the lagomorph) is a detective, an extremely noir detective who floridly narrates his own life.  He’s bummed out because– well, I have no idea because I never played Max Payne 1, but it appears his wife was killed.  He heads out to investigate some gunshots– he happens to be nearby– and it turns into a long epic case.

There’s actually a story here, mostly told panel by panel, graphic novel style, in between the playable chapters.  It works as a storytelling device (and it’s well drawn and acted); it does bother me a bit that there’s not even a nod to interactivity.  Nothing you do affects the story.  Which I guess is common enough, but most games hide it a little more. 

The actual gameplay involves almost nothing but moving through huge bits of urban architecture, clearing out thugs.  (The thugs are always the same, so far as I can see; the chief variation is in how many there are.)  It’s mostly gunplay, and the guns can kill you pretty quickly; in compensation, though, you get bullet time– you can slow time down for ten seconds or so and use this to burst through your enemies.  (They’re still shooting at you, but slower, so if you’re not careful you can still be blown away.) 

A couple times, for a change, you get to play Max’s love interest, Mona:

Mona is a femme fatale, so she's way less emo than Max

This is nice, largely because Mona’s weapon of choice is a good sniper rifle. 

So, you know, pick this up if you like clearing buildings of thugs.  I enjoyed it without falling in love with it; total gameplay was about ten hours.  There isn’t a whole lot of variety, except for a couple dream sequences, and a boss battle that is made much easier by the fact that you can quicksave.  Thank you, Rockstar.  (However, don’t forget to quicksave often, as there’s no autosave.)

For the most part everything is very serious, but there’s one major bit of comic relief: one of the characters, Vinnie, is trapped in a cartoon mascot uniform and waddles around in a huge head and squeaky shoes:

Plus you have to protect this dweeb from the bad guys.

I’m so used to Valve maps, with their pickiness about rendering too much geometry, that I find it interesting that Rockstar apparently doesn’t have this problem.  GTAIV is famous for its huge seamless city; this game features some enormous maps, with windows where you can look out at a large vista.

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