Max Payne is one of the biggest hits of the year on PC. This title from Remedy Entertainment, violent, tasteless, and very much inspired by John Woo's films, had barely been released on PS2, when it also came out on Xbox in the United States. Entirely in 3D and benefiting from advanced graphics quality, Max Payne is the ideal game to make a comparison test between the PC, PS2 and Xbox, especially in terms of graphics quality.
Released six months ago on PC, Max Payne offers exceptional game play by plunging the player into the heart of a heinous whodunit, in the skin of a disillusioned cop obsessed with the death of his wife and son. Scripted like a real film production, Max Payne is a small gem that immerses you into the middle of an intense and terribly fascinating story. To reach this goal, the developers split the story into chapters, punctuated with film scenes, Matrix-style special effects, and very BD screens that remind you of Miller's Sin City.
Therefore, the game's graphic features take on a very unique importance. On PC, with a robust system and a good graphics card, the game is absolutely superb. On PS2, Max Payne has more difficulty displaying with such a high level of quality. The FPS level is weaker and the console doesn't possess anti-aliasing functions. To resolve this problem and avoid too blatant concerns over stair stepping, you can opt for a filter that renders the image slightly blurry (motion blur), but then the bullet time slowdowns are very ugly. The textures are also blurry with clipping effects. Across from it, Xbox had no difficulty surpassing PS2, with exemplary fluidity and a very smooth image that, even on a simple television screen, left no wish for a PC screen. Frankly, it's difficult to tell the two versions apart.
For its part, Xbox greatly surpasses the other platforms. Hooked up to an amplifier and a speaker system in 5.1, Max Payne's band sound is truly impressive. Even if the central soundtrack is still a bit weak, the 3D effects distributed between the peripheral speakers are truly impressive. You only need to turn around in place while firing to convince yourself. The effects, distributed across 360° based on the characters position, make one really feel like they are in the heart of the action.
However one small black mark remains tied to the conveyance of any action game on a PC versus a console: the character's handling. Training to familiarize yourself with the character, a little painful, is all the more so for one who plays on the PC. And even with much training, one doesn't manage to reach the same ease with a controller as with a keyboard and mouse. That being said, we felt the Xbox controller seemed easier to use than the PS2's.