Max Payne is celebrating 20 years today!

On this day, exactly 20 years ago, began the suffering of a detective named Max Payne.

Mobile blockbusters Angry Birds and Clash of Clans are for many the first associations when the terms gaming and Finland are connected. But years before the angry birds, Finland had a much more serious, though equally frustrated, hero. His name was Max Payne, and behind him stood the Remedy Entertainment studio.

The team in question, after success with its first game, Death Rally, wanted to make an action title modeled on Tomb Raider, which was a picture and an opportunity for success in the late 1990s. They thus devised a story focused on the psychological characterization of the character, but with stereotypical motives about a cynical detective from films of the noir genre.

The game was originally supposed to be called Max Heat or Dark Justice, but in four years of development Max Payne has gone through a number of changes. It was initially conceived with a multiplayer component, and later became an exclusively solo adventure. But some elements of the game remained present throughout the development. For example, presenting a story through a comic book style to developers was practical because they didn’t have a big enough budget for fully animated scenes.

Max Payne was a third-person shooter, but with a special spice called Bullet Time. In the game, time could slow down to the level that the player could dodge bullets, which was irresistibly reminiscent of cult scenes from the movie series The Matrix. More and more other games after Max Payne have begun to use time-slowing mechanics, from a similar Stranglehold to Red Dead Redemption.

Max Payne delighted the audience and critics after his release. It won numerous awards for the best PC game in 2001 and was quickly transferred to consoles. After two sequels, Max switched to mobile platforms, and since 2016 it is also available on PlayStation 4. In 2008, the game received a film adaptation in which the title role was taken by Mark Wahlberg, and it is better not to waste words on that film.

The Max Payne series is in the hands of Rockstar Games today, which also made the third part, so the creators of the original will probably never work on future sequels again, if there are any. Max Payne’s latest crisis has been resolved in a rather positive tone, so the question arises as to whether anyone is more worthy of dragging old Max through some new suffering. Maybe it’s just best to leave the man alone – yet he’s been through a lot in his life.