This is The Gunsmiths, a PCGamesN series about videogames’ favourite interaction: shooting people directly in the face. There is no shortage of great games where gunplay is the main draw, so we wanted to dig down into these games’ inner workings, breaking them apart at a tool bench and seeing the components spread out across its surface. For our fourth feature in the series, it’s the balletic bullet dance of Max Payne 2.
The past is a puzzle, like a broken mirror. As you piece it together, you cut yourself, your image keeps shifting. Still, I remember it like yesterday - my first victim in Max Payne 2: a balaclava-clad goon near a doorway, his back to a shelf filled with medical equipment. I fire a shot - straight to the head, dropping him faster than a grenade with a pulled pin - and he hurtles backwards as time slows to a crawl, knocking the shelves onto the floor, spilling the equipment everywhere, and causing another unit to crash into his limp corpse.
Read The Gunsmiths part three: Turok 2.
All of this was unscripted. It was the first time I had seen real-time physics, and it made that single, simple encounter endlessly replayable. The thuds and crashes as body parts interacted with their surroundings, kicking up dust with every collision gave the entire scene weight. All of these interacting pieces made every encounter feel unpredictable. Of course, this also added to the workload for the developers.