The game is set not long after the events in the first game and there is even a section in the menu to get people up to speed with what happened in the previous game should they have been foolish to have missed it. (its available on budget and I would suggest playing the first game before starting the second) You will find the game much more enjoyable once you know the cast of characters.
You play troubled New York detective Max Payne. His wife and baby girl were killed at the start of the first game by mobsters and he is just coming to terms with that fact. He is a loner and often goes against the orders of his superiors.
The game starts with the plot being told via an animated graphic novel. The art used has a strong sense of style the dark gloomy artwork fitting in perfectly with the atmosphere that the game exudes. More care and attention has been lavished over this important element of the game this time around. After each event more of the story is unfolded by the same method.
The game is broken up into 3 main chapters with subsections. This is not told in a strictly linear fashion, the plot has jump cuts to different parts of the story to keep you guessing over the events that happen. To start with little of it makes sense but it is explained over the whole game so at the very end you have that magical AH! moment where it all falls into place, like the last piece of a jigsaw completing the whole puzzle.
The atmosphere is very dark and moody. Most of the action takes place at night with rain pouring down and lightning flashing. The world Max inhabits is very grimy and gritty, trash strewn everywhere, people living in squalor. (looks like my house after a party !)
Along the way you will meet familiar faces from the past, new friends and make a whole new set of enemies which is what Max seems to do best.
Luckily he comes prepared for trouble and there is a large array of weapons to chose from to dispatch your foes. Ranging from the humble 9MM to dual pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles to name a few. There is also the added bonus of pistol whipping people, grenades and petrol bombs and you cant have a good party without a few of those. (or is that just me?)
The game has lots of adult content but its handled maturely and isn't over the top like the game Kingpin for example. People act after their own interests and that is reflected in the story and attitudes of the characters. Although the game has guns coming out of its ears there isn't any over the top gore like in Soldier of Fortune. No dismemberment or parts of bodies blown away, some of you may be disappointed by this and if you are I suggest some counselling or a therapist.
Bullet time makes a comeback in the sequel as it was a very useful feature of the first game, in style similar to the shots in the Matrix where time slows down. This allows you more time to plan your attacks and dodge bullets John Woo style with very acrobatic dives and rolls. Bullet time must be used sparingly though as the hourglass that shows the time left drains fairly rapidly and it could run out just when you need it most. It slowly regenerates over time. This is improved over the first game giving you much more opportunity to use it. Bullet time is properly done, unlike recent games where it sucked *Cough* Enter the Matrix *Cough*