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.