Geoff Keighley
November 21, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

(PC, PS2, Xbox; Rockstar Games; Mature)

Way back in 2001, ”Max Payne” garnered much praise for cramming into a videogame all the thrill-a-minute excitement of a John Woo movie. This sequel replicates that winning formula and delivers another series of mind-blowing gun battles. As Max, an NYPD detective, you dart around New York City, gunning down mobsters while protecting Mona, a mysterious femme fatale. Like its predecessor, the game’s best feature is the Matrix-inspired ”bullet time” that puts Max in a temporal-distortion field, allowing him to dodge bullets. This slo-mo effect makes for spectacular battles in which Max can rub out foes without blinking an eye. But if some of the gun sequences unfold at an entrancingly slow pace, the game itself proceeds all too quickly: ”MP2” can be finished in a matter of hours. While there’s plenty to recommend in ”MP2”’s innovative gameplay, its brevity may leave some lingering ”payne” in your wallet.

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