Released almost five years ago, Max Payne still retains its status as one of the most revered games in PC history. Why? Well, not only does it still manage to look fairly decent even on a modern system (thanks in the main to having maximum settings that topped out well above anything a 2001 vintage PC could handle), but it is also so damn cool.
Payne remains the classic game noir, and was also the first game to employ bullet time. But of course, while it is a legendary game people always want more. And so they made it themselves.
If Max is a gaming classic, the Kung Fu Mod is at the top of the 'play this next' list. Version 3 by Kenneth Yeung is the most current, released in 2003. The Kung Fu mod allows our hero Max to use, you guessed it, kung fu. Not just any kung fu though, oh no.
In Kung Fu Version 3, Payne can run up walls, bludgeon all comers with a deadly staff, carry out numerous flip and spin moves and slam enemies into one another. The moves flow nicely into combinations and the range of extra dodges and slides provide you with more than a fighting chance of avoiding incoming fire while closing the range to bust heads.
One of the advantages of the Kung Fu mod is that it opens up the ability to select levels. While this may sound like it eliminates challenge from the game, which in some respects it does, this is actually a great addition - as it means you can pick your favourite set piece from the game and pile on in right away.
Part of the charm of the original Max Payne is the replayability, taking down rooms of hoodlums can be done in any number of ways; the Kung Fu mod takes this and expands on it, giving you even more great ways to kill everybody you meet, without separating you too far from the look and feel of the original game. The way that the Kung Fu mod feels so natural an extension of the original game cannot be undervalued, as it means that you lose none of the atmosphere.
The Matrix Upgraded is the most recent of the Matrix modifications to arrive for Max Payne. With Payne as the first game to include bullet time and arriving at the same sort of time as the Matrix movies, tying the one to the other was inevitable. This match made in heaven was strengthened by the fact that for some inexplicable reason nobody has yet been able to make a Matrix computer game that's been any good at all. Take a game that's already good, stick Neo in it, bingo, you've got the best Matrix game of the bunch.