Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Jason Smart

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: 3D Realms
Price Range: $50-60
Learning curve time: 30-60 min.
Age level: 18+
ESRB Rating: Mature

Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 1 of 5
   (very offensive)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 1 of 5
Adult Content: 1 of 5

Box art from 'Max Payne' 3D Realms definitely had a winner on their hands when they released the third person shooter Max Payne in the fall of 2001. As soon as it hit the shelves, the #1 spot on videogame charts was quickly filled by Max Payne.

Max Payne is a New York City cop who arrives home one day to find his wife and baby brutally murdered by drug junkies. Bitterness sets in, and revenge becomes the main goal of our hero: Max. One thing leads to another and Max quickly finds himself in the middle of a NYC drug ring which has even darker secrets than he ever imagined.

Max Payne is definitely a violent video game. Sometimes the violence seems a bit over the top and for those who just can't take all the gore, there is a filter that you can turn on which is also password protected.

This filter doesn't eliminate the killing, but it does take out the blood and gore and eliminate other elements of the game which shouldn't have been in the game in the first place. Although violence has a strong presence in this game, I didn't find that as disturbing as I did the presence of the occult, drug use, and sexual immorality.

Screenshot from 'Max Payne' Max Payne has some sick parts. I found myself actually scared during some scenes of the game. During one level, you can here people praying to Satan, find Satanic books littering the floor, and Max even gets to take a journey to Hell several times during the game only to find his family screaming at him for help. [Editor's note: other players say this is a drug-induced trip. As to whether or not he actually visited Hell is up for conjecture.]

Drugs also plays a role in "Max Payne". Drugs are dealt, and drugs are consumed. Addicts can be found throughout the game and used needles litter the floors of bathrooms and tables. In one cutscene, Max is involuntarily shot up with drugs and goes through a scary scene of illusions which you get to play through more than once.

Last but certainly not least, there is the sexual immorality. Pornographic signs and magazines are everywhere, while one of the games main levels is actually a brothel. While that seems bad enough, the cutscenes are filled with suggestive dialogue and crude remarks about orgasms, adult movies, and masturbation.

There are more things that I left out just because there is so much more. Although it has incredibly good graphics and amazing gameplay, it just doesn't redeem the content that is portrayed in a graphic and all too real way. The thing that bothered me the most was the presence of Satanic activity. That stuff is most definitely real and very scary. I honestly can't recommend this game. It is a lot of fun, but don't let that pull you into what is hidden deeper.

Year of Release—2001

Positive—What I'm amazed at is that no one on this site has noticed the pervasive Norse mythology in this game…from Alfred Woden to the drug Valkyr-V to the fact that the game takes place during the coldest winter in recorded history (a reference to Ragnarok) to Fenris and many other references…I guess it takes a pagan to notice these things, eh? My Ratings: [2/5]
   —Keith, age 30, non-Christian

Positive—While Max Payne may have violence and sex and drugs, it never condones drug use… Max is never able to kill a police officer either. He is only able to kill the "bad guys", which are junkies and his enemies. Plus, Max never visits hell, they are his nightmares. My Ratings: [2/5]
   —John Brown, age 19, non-Christian

Positive—One of the things which the reviewer found objectionable was the dark storyline. "Guess I wasn't that smart" And one thing which should be mentioned is, that all the so-called satanic content "Lupino had been spending a lot of time getting intimate with the guy downstairs. The only thing I could take seriously about it was the thought of Lupino taking it seriously." “Jack Lupino was crazy all right” And no, Max doesn't visit Hell in any part of the game. He's just forced to deal with the loss of his family both inside and outside of his own head. A journey which takes him to question himself in the process. "The good were like gold dust littered across the city. I had no illusions. I was not one of them." I found the game to be a good wake-up-call on the situation the world is in. You might have a so-called ordinary life and "An American Dream", but in reality, part of that dream comes from the fact that you really don't want to know all the stuff that goes on behind your back. Choosing not to know is the most common way of maintaining your sanity. For all of us. That, however, does not always mean that it is a good thing. I found the game a good one, and it made me think. And to set the record straight, I REALLY AM NOT SAYING THAT THIS GAME IS SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN IN ANY CASE. PARENTAL LOCKS OR NO. IT SAYS K-18 IN THE COVER, TRUST IT. Mmmkay? "I didn't ask for this crap. Trouble had come to me in big, dark swarms." My Ratings: [3/4]
   —Ilkka Karppinen, age 19, non-Christian

Positive—I think that Max Payne is a game about rising above the slime in this world. Yes there are drugs, yes there is prostitution, and yes there is satanic rituals and occult images but isn't the bigger point that the hero, Max Payne, has to face each of these temptations and trials and rise above them? I think this game doesn't mix right from wrong all that often. Obviously there is an issue with Max's shoot first style and if there was any morally objectionable part to this game it would certainly be that. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Matt Green, age 21

PositivePositive Elements: Max loves his family so much that their deaths spark his crusade. He knows the task before him is impossible, but he does it anyway. He sees how drugs have destroyed his world, and he does something about it. And once he starts his task, he sees it through to the bitter end. Spiritual Content: One of the crime lords is deeply into Satanism. This is definitely not portrayed in a positive light, influences little outside that level, and his Satanism results in no real power. Max never visits Hell. Sexual Content: One of the levels takes place in a brothel, but there are no prostitutes in it, only a few pimps and addicts. The cutscenes are remarkably restrained given the subject matter. Anything truly objectionable is merely implied, not shown. Violent Content: The game is a shooter. Max takes on what seems to be the entire New York underworld … and wins. Still, I can remember only two civilian casualties, who die from bad luck. The others are either crooks or soldiers intent on killing Max, so it's hardly fair to blame him for defending himself. Crude or Profane Language: Some crooks say "What the h---!?" when surprised. Drug and Alcohol Content: Max is battling the mysterious source of the drug Valkyr. Shivering addicts pop up every now and again; leave them in their misery and they're harmless. Max is forcibly injected with Valkyr twice, and the hallucinations that follow, his overpowering sense of horror and rage that he could not stop the murder of his family are played out in a surreal nightmare. Conclusion: Max Payne is a story of revenge. Max's family is killed, and Max kills those responsible. And their lackeys. And a bunch of other folks intent on killing him. The game shows just how horrible the underworld is, and no sane person would want to inhabit it. Who would want to do drugs after seeing wretched addicts and Max's drug-induced nightmares? Who could do anything but shudder at the sex trade after walking through the mostly-abandoned brothel? Who would want to ever be involved in a gunfight after realizing Max would have died a thousand times before reaching his goal if you didn't have a reset button? Those bullets HURT! There are definitely a lot of negative elements in Max Payne, but it definitely does not glorify them. Max deals with the dregs of society, and nowhere are they portrayed as anything but objects of revulsion. The game doesn't even glorify Max. Even in what should be his triumph, he still feels empty inside and his pain remains. Violence has not solved anything. New bosses will spring up to replace the old, and his family is still dead. Max is simply a beautiful, stylish game. If you don't enjoy James Bond movies, don't play it. If you do, the unique storytelling style makes it worthy of being rented, as it's a fairly short game. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Anthony Mills, age 23

Positive—The parts when he goes to “hell” he actually is dreaming because he is drugged…My Ratings: [2/5]
   —Jello Biafra, age 18

Positive—At no point during the game does Max 'visit Hell'.
   —Jason Mills, age 26, non-Christian

Neutral—Max Payne is extremely violent, but it is pretty fun. Max isn't a hero like in most games, just a man that can't possibly escape the situation he is in. The game (playstation version) is depicted very and maybe all too realistically at times. One concept I found offending wasn't so much as the other parts of the game…it was really the concept of revenge. Max in a way, is a little insane. He does admit at some parts he feels rather guilty for all the killing he faces…until he finds out who is responsible for murdering his family. The plot is very well thought up…very intense. The whole sexual reference and the occult parts are not found all throughout the whole game, but yeah, they can be pretty bad & creepy. Max at least isn't in favor of any of it. This game tells a very dark story, one that is really hopeless and grim. It can be rather depressing at times. I don't really recommend this game, but I was sucked into its whole story and gameplay. My Ratings: [2/5]
   —John Dill, age 18

Comments from Young People…

Negative—At first glance this is a great game. It has all the perfect gameplay, fun and graphics of a wonderful game. I could have spent hours playing it. Until… deep into the game you find out that your enemies are associated with the occult. You can hear people praying to satin in the background and chanting fallen angel's names. At times there is devil symbols splattered on walls with blood. Max has a dream in the game (i won't go in depth in case anybody actually wants to play max payne) which literally gave me nightmares. This game would be game of the year if it weren't for satanic references because under all that is an outstanding plot and game. Yet is all that worth playing such a sinful game? You decide but I think not. My Ratings: [2/3]
   —Zack Mandle, age 14

Negative—When I saw my brother playing this I said to myself "finally a good third-person video game for the computer. I thought it would involve thinking and puzzeling so I tried it out. I couldn't have been more wrong. this is your average shoot-em-up game in third-person perspective. And I'd say the ONLY thing that sets it apart from other shoot-em-ups is the bullet-time feature wherein you can slow time down for easier killing. If you like adventure games look elsewhere. if you like shoot-em-up games I suppose you could do worse. My Ratings: [2/3]
   —Caleb Thiessen, age 17

Positive—The is no nudity on the wall, an no trips to hell are taken. Yes, there is Mature sexual themes, but if you activate the filter their is nothing offensive at all. Maybe some people will be offended by portraying Devil worshipers a lunatics, by I don't think many reasonable Christian will. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Alex Petrunak, age 16

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

Christian Spotlight Guide2Games is part of Christian Answers. Copyright © Films for Christ. • “Christian Spotlight’s Guide to Games” and “Guide2Games” are service marks of Films for Christ.

Go to Christian Spotlight on Entertainment HOME