|Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Released in 2003, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is a Film Noir-style 3rd-person action shooter. It is the sequel to Max Payne which pioneered bullet-time as a game element.
Max Payne is your typical hard-nosed detective, speaking with a generally flat tone and using many dark metaphors. His life is a mess. Attached to the NYPD, he has to deal with his lover being the main suspect in a murder case, and that's just the beginning.
The storyline is non-linear - you don't follow the game through in a direct chronological order. It can be confusing to begin with. As the game progresses, you find out more about Max's past and how he got into the mess he's in. The game is also full of distractions - you can talk to the people when you're in the police station, and even annoy some of them; there are TV programs that you can follow all the way through the game, including the Adventures of Captain Baseball Bat Boy.
The game feels like a movie of sorts - it's very well thought out, and there are things you can pick up on after you play it a few times. The story between chapters is revealed in a comic-book-like fashion. The graphics are simply incredible (at least that was my first impression) and it really gets the most out of even older cards. Max Payne 2 has probably the most efficient 3D graphics of any commercial game within the last 5 years. It also has advanced ragdoll physics, without the gore of Doom 3 which makes it both realistic and playable for even the (slightly) faint hearted.
I give Max Payne 2 my personal double thumbs up for well thought-out, engaging gameplay, with gruesomeness concentrated more in the dark storyline than the graphics.