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Max Payne is a 2001 third-person shooter video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Gathering of Developers. The game centers on former NYPD detective Max Payne, who attempts to solve the murder of his family while investigating a drug trafficking case involving a mysterious new designer drug called “Valkyr”. While doing so, Max becomes entangled in a large and complex conspiracy, involving a major pharmaceutical company, organized crime, a secret society, and the U.S. military. The game 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 was originally released for Microsoft Windows in July 2001, and was later ported by Rockstar Games to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in December 2001, and by MacSoft and Feral Interactive to the Mac OS in July 2002. A version of the game for the Game Boy Advance, featuring an isometric perspective but retaining most of the original’s gameplay elements, was released by Rockstar in December 2003, and an enhanced port for mobile devices was published in 2012 to coincide with the release of Rockstar’s Max Payne 3. A Dreamcast version of the game was also planned, but was canceled due to the discontinuation of the console in 2001. Max Payne was also made available on Xbox 360 as part of Xbox Originals program in 2009, on PlayStation 3 as a PS2 Classic in 2012, on PlayStation 4 in 2016, and on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in 2021, due to consoles’ respective backward compatibility and emulation features.
The original release of Max Payne received highly positive reviews for its exciting gunplay and use of noir storytelling devices, and has been cited as one of the best video games ever made. The game won a large number of accolades, including a BAFTA Award for Best PC Game of 2001. Its success launched the Max Payne franchise, including the sequels Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, developed again by Remedy and published by Rockstar in October 2003, and Max Payne 3, developed solely by Rockstar and released in May 2012. A loose film adaptation of the first game was released in October 2008. In 2022, it was announced that Remedy and Rockstar are developing a remake of Max Payne and its first sequel for Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
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