The original Max Payne felt like a breath of fresh air to gamers who had grown tired of action-adventure games with a third-person-perspective character where storylines were boring, gameplay was too linear and there were nothing interesting like plot twists and turns. The game had generated enormous hype, much of it credited to pre-release coverages of its innovative "Matrix"-inspired Bullet Time slow-motion feature (the good) as well as the long delay in getting the game onto store shelves from the time it was announced (the bad). The game received almost universal accolades, with a number of media outlets proclaiming it as their "Game Of The Year".

Remedy Entertainment, the smallish development house based in Finland that gave us Max Payne, wasted no time in making their minds up that a sequel was simply a must. Max Payne 2 : The Fall of Max Payne is the result, a very polished result we might add. Just recently made available, it has garnered similar glowing reviews as its predecessor by both game critics as well as those that love gaming. Building on the basis of what made the original a success (Bullet Time, great visuals, smartly-done comic-style story telling), Remedy appears to have bucked the usual trend where sequels rarely reach similar heights as their originals.

Markus Maki, the Project Leader for Max Payne 2 and one of the founders of both Remedy and Futuremark, took some time off his busy schedule of ensuring good post-release support to answer some questions about what now appears to be the latest of a game franchise (Max Payne 2 end-credits ends with suggestion of another Max Payne). This is our second interview with Markus; you can read about him in our first interview.

Your original game took a really long time from announcement to fruition while your latest game appears to have a far shorter development period. Why is that?

This time around we had a readily thought-out game concept, good base technology to build on and most importantly we had an excellent team that had been through it all once already.

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Could you tell us approximately how long it took to develop Max Payne2 from start to finish? What part of the game took the greatest amount of development time, and why?

It was almost exactly two years. The Max Payne 2 code database was created September 19, 2001.

Maybe the biggest programming efforts went into integrating Havok physics and making a new version of our level editor, MaxED. Both were crucial in getting the level of detail we wanted to have in the game.

But naturally the content development took the greatest time, i.e. making the story, environments, characters and graphic novels.

Overall, the game has so far been well-received by both the critics as well as actual buyers of the game. What pleases you more -- the good reviews of this game on its own, or that it is generally regarded as an improvement on its predecessor?

We’re certainly very happy with how The Fall of Max Payne turned out to be, and it’s of course nice to have an average review score of 90%.

But certainly it’s most pleasing to read how much people have enjoyed the game, and what secrets or details that we’ve placed in there they have found.

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Was a first-person-view Max Payne 2 ever considered by Remedy? I would personally doubt that since it would have been hard to incorporate the bullet time feature to have as maximum an effect as it does in third-person mode but I would like to hear your thoughts on first-person versus third-person games.

A first-person Max Payne 2 has never been considered. Max Payne has always been very character-centric, and what would be better than to have the character on screen the whole time. It’s also much easier to tell a story from the third-person perspective.

Personally I have no special preference over FPS or third-person games. Both have their places. But suggesting Max Payne 2 to be a FPS would be like suggesting Half-Life 2 should be third-person…

Max Payne 2 is a DX8.1 game although it requires the DX9 runtime (why is that, btw?). Was DX9 (hardware and API) made known to your Remedy partners when concept for this game started? If yes, why go with DX8.1? Too far down the development path already? Didn't envisage the quick take-up of DX9 hardware?

The project started as a content-only project, and we didn’t originally plan on taking the technology nearly as far as we took it in the end. Max2 requires the DX9 runtime, since it would be almost double effort doing the quality assurance on both DX8.1 and DX9.

The reason why we did not move over to using DX9 API calls was that we had a well-tested DirectX8 engine (Max Payne 1, 3DMark2001) that we could trust to run with pretty much everything (You can run Max2 on a Voodoo5 5500 if you want).

Changing to DX9 APIs would again have introduced a lot of QA and testing work, and as it wasn’t essential for the game nor would have increased its quality or graphical looks, it wasn’t done.