Have You Played… Max Payne Kung Fu 3.0 Mod?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Max Payne was a fine game all on its own, but the one thing to make its slow-motion bullet-dodging better was kung fu. That arrived in the form of the appropriately named Kung Fu mod, which added a combo system of spin kicks and wall runs, along with a pole weapon.

Applied to the game’s existing singleplayer levels, it transformed the game from one of sideways dives and stylish circle-strafing to a more interesting challenge of positioning. One in which you were encouraged to get close to your bullet-spewing enemies so you could kick and punch as well as riddle them with bullets. One in which the walls weren’t obstacles to slowly, awkwardly slide your shoulder down after a misplaced and truncated dive, but surfaces to rebound off for a more powerful kick.

I was especially fond of that pole, with which you could link together combos as you moved swiftly between enemies, simultaneously dodging their bullets and hitting them hard off ledges. It has been years since I played it, but it seems a miracle – a bad, anti-miracle – that no one has yet made a retail successor to this mod’s combat, when it seemed to so seamlessly join together different forms of action.

36 Comments

  1. Kemuel says:

    I have not, but I am loving the appearance of mods on these lists. The early-mid 00s were an amazing time.

    • dahools says:

      +1

      New column suggestion “Have you Modded?”

    • intenscia says:

      Couldn’t agree more, so much innovation back then when only a few major franchises existed: HL, Doom, Quake, Starcraft, Unreal, C&C, CoD.

      These days modding has mostly become cosmetic, total conversions are rare.

      • Mcshufts says:

        Installed so many mods on UT, the base install for it was something like 400MB (I think) and by the end the folder had over 2GB worth of different modes including Tactical Ops, Strike Force, Slave Master, loads of maps, models, skins. Loved it.

  2. Jericho says:

    Yes! YES!

    I absolutely ADORE this mod for good ol’ Max Payne. It still shocks me that this mod was able to pull off such smooth and fun “kung fu” and wall-running mixed with the original game’s shooty combat, and that no games have since been able to follow up on that. The horrible Matrix Reloaded game attempted it but had super sloppy controls, and I can’t really think of any other retail releases that had similar combat. Action Half-Life and The Opera mods for Half-Life had wall jumps, but not the semi-fluid wall running and hopping and kicking of the Max Payne Kung Fu mod. Mirrors Edge sort of got it right but there was essentially no gunplay in that game, and combat was usually something you were always trying to avoid.

    Anyhow, I remember playing the parking garage shoot-out level in Max Payne over and over using this mod and loving every wall-hopping, spin kicking, slow-mo second of it. Great fun!

    • FrozenHobbit says:

      All this time, I thought I was the only one who missed the wall running.

  3. MrTea says:

    I love all these early 2000 era mods you guys have been posting! The future of gaming seemed a lot brighter back then.

    • klops says:

      I always find that claim strange. I’d say nowadays we have much more interesting games available than 15 years ago – and for much cheaper. The golden age of gaming is now for me. Unfortunately I don’t have time and enthousiasm to get into it anymore that much.

      Regarding the article: Wow! Never heard of this.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        I’ll sound like rose tinted goggle donning old man but…
        There’s definitely something lost from the era of the late 80’s to mid 00. The democratisation of game development has given us a thriving indie scene and more games than ever but the studios in the middle, the single-A segments with smaller teams, doing all kinds of risky experiments with above-indie budgets are pretty much extinct.
        Most surviving studios merged into giants long ago and work on multi-studio projects with upwards to a thousand people on a single game, with strict genre definitions and monetisation strategies before a game has even entered pre-production.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Modding certainly seems to have faded a bit. I suspect some of it honestly is the polarization of art into “spend millions on huge teams of professional game artists carefully modelling the pocket lint of your fat space marine” and “wipe your backside with MS Paint and call it retro”.

      • Baines says:

        We might have more interesting games available now, but in some ways they are less ambitious.

        The past gave us mods like Action [insert FPS here], while the present gave us… Bulletstorm? I’m not trying to knock Bulletstorm, but it was very much a big publisher game. More polish and it looked prettier, but despite its anti-COD PR campaign and presentation, it felt like a big budget by-the-numbers game.

        Some is the expansion of genre of those older mods. Max Payne was an action shooter, and then there was a mod that turned the same game into a martial arts title. A modern game might mix martial arts and guns, but it would mix them together at the design stage. It wouldn’t be a pure gun game that you could suddenly play as a martial artist. While the player gets a more polished product, at the same time it feels like a more limited world.

        Some is also just seeing the potential, and running on hopes and dreams. Reality is often less than imagination. When you saw a mod that added kung fu to Max Payne, you also dreamed of what others developers would do. Over time, we saw what developers actually did, which was to just fold such ideas into game design slowly and widespread enough that it quickly became “more of the same.” That at least is what happened to the ideas that survived, as others just saw limited appearances before vanishing.

  4. Wowbagger says:

    How have I not heard of this?! Sounds fricking amazing, I want to gurn chop some goons as soon as possible now.

  5. diseasedcrow says:

    Anyone who buys this on Windows10 after reading this, turn on AntiAliasing and it should boot. Kungfoo mod works fine.

  6. ikazrima says:

    YES YES YES A MILLION YEAHHHHHH!

    I really cannot play Max Payne without this mod. Heck, this mod actually makes unable to play MP2 and MP3 D: There’s a sequel to this mod for MP2, but it switches Max with some punk in a hat and if I remember correctly you can’t use him in the main game? Only in some other mode, so that’s a bummer.

    This mod puts Rockstar to shame with their MP3 promotional videos on their new tech for fluid movement and aiming.

  7. zarnywoop says:

    This mod adding a big fun replay value (not that Max Payne needed it). Not only adding kung fu kicks, but it also added to the bullet dodges (such as dropping knees down leaning back in place a la The Matrix, and then spinning round back onto his feet).

  8. popedoo says:

    Love this mod!!

    Might I also just say:

    link to vine.co

  9. knelse says:

    Yeah, I did, so many times.
    It made my game time in MP1 be countless times more than I’ve spent on going through story mode :)

  10. Lord_Mordja says:

    My fav Max Payne mod was Katana. Anyone remember that?

  11. Phendron says:

    I was too busy playing The Specialists HL mod but if I’d known about this I would have been all over it.

  12. MistaJah says:

    my first complete playthough was with kung-fu 3.0. no regrets.

    • ikazrima says:

      You can complete it? I can’t because of a bug at the end level. When Nicole was running up the stairs through the door in the cutscene Max would shoot her to death infinitely. No matter what I do (restart the whole level) the same would happen. I thought it was because of the mod?

      • zxcasdqwecat says:

        I can get that bug but only if I shoot her. The game will register her dead and the following scripts won’t trigger leaving max in a shooting loop.
        Just don’t shoot her.

  13. zxcasdqwecat says:

    I play it every year.

  14. zxcasdqwecat says:

    Every. Year.

  15. Replikant says:

    This sounds amazing. I am a big fan of the martial arts/gunplay combination of ONI and sadly had not seen any other game pull it off (I had some hopes for Mirrors Edge). This mod sounds as if it might scratch that itch. Methinks I’ll have to hunt for a copy of Max Payne.

  16. LionsPhil says:

    Yes, and it was amazing. It’s exceptionally rare that a mod that makes sweeping changes to the singleplayer of an already good game is an improvement, but it pulled it off.

  17. bokkibear says:

    My favourite mod of all time. I remember waiting for the final version of the mod, knowing that would add the quarterstaff and loads of really cool features, for about a year, checking the website at least twice a week.

    You can also wall run off people’s faces.

    What’s particularly impressive is how the mod managed to work so well when Max Payne is practically unmoddable. Because of the restrictions, each move (including the amazing wall-runs) worked by making Max fire an invisible bullet. When the bullet hit a valid target, it would create an invisible pick-up item, and if Max was close enough, picking up that item would trigger the animation of the move in question. It’s a testament to the ingeniuity of the mod author (Ken Yeung) that the combat is so incredibly satisfying.

  18. bokkibear says:

    Here’s the trailer, for anyone who wants to see it in action:

  19. buzzmong says:

    This mod was brilliant. Is brilliant. So is the base game.

    I actually prefer the first to the technically superior sequel.

    OTT b-moving writing was fun, but the graphic novel sequences tying the levels together are an excellent touch, and something I wish more developers would think about. I think the last developer I saw doing something similar was Team17 on their Alien Breed remake a couple of years ago.

  20. racccoon says:

    When I modded the Max Payne, I spent a hell of lot time on it at the time, I was creating a flying super max it was working well, till one day my old computer (comps back then did this a lot) just crashed big time! I lost the lot in my hard drive never to recover (relentless efforts worthless). I never went back to it but it would of been great fun to relive it today.
    I still have code lying about from that time, but the work for the mod.:(

  21. Low Life says:

    This mod was/is amazing. I spent a lot of time trying out mods for Max Payne, but the Kung Fu Mod is what I stuck with most of the time. My only foray into “modding” was taking a bunch of Max Payne mods and combining them together, so I’d have dozens of weapons, Kung Fu and other miscellaneous additions all in one.

    We didn’t have internet back then so the way I got all those mods was by going to the library with a stack of floppy disks (the computers had Windows NT so no USB support), downloading the mods there and packing them with WinZIP to floppy sized pieces. Of course every now and then I’d go home and find out that one disk had an error and I’d have to do that all again. The day they switched to Windows XP and I could use a USB thumb drive changed my life.

  22. tonicer says:

    Heck yeah. This is back in the day when Max Payne was a PC game and not some lame ass console game without any amount of atmosphere.

  23. identiti_crisis says:

    Max Payne was hard to mod, although I think I recall it was all scripted in Python? Or was that just Severance (another classic from the era, esp. with the Gladiator mod!)? Anyway, as noted above, this was a really ingenious mod on several levels, not least because of the mechanism used to trigger animations and flying enemies etc., but also the way the combat seemed to flow and work within the existing game.

    My brother and I had so much fun with this, and I combined a first-person and weapon mod into it, which I suppose is why I liked the concept of Mirror’s Edge so much, only to be disappointed by its combat.

    Simply superb.