The 17 Best Gritty Games Inspired by 'Max Payne'

games like max payne mobile
Brittany Vincent/ONE37pm

It's been a year full of remakes and remasters, and finally, the legendary Max Payne is getting its fair due.

The first two games are set to receive their own remakes, and the gaming community couldn't be happier. There's a lot to love about the Max Payne games, and we know it. So much in fact, that this title went on to inspire a slew of others.

Of course, we don’t just mean the beloved slow-down bullet mechanics from the series, but also the strong storyline, complex characters, and fantastic cover systems that all came together to create a wonderful gaming experience. If you’re looking for more titles like that, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 17 games inspired by Max Payne.

1. 'Watch Dogs 2'

If you’re looking for a newer game to dig into, then look no further than Watch Dogs 2. While it offers a more open-world nature than any of the Max Payne titles, it comes with a lot of the things Max Payne fans can get behind: a fantastic, well-paced story, complex characters, and a ton of gadgets and upgrades to take advantage of. Hack your way through compounds full of enemies, sneak around and take them out from behind, or go out in a blaze of glory, all while exploring the beautiful and hip world of futuristic San Francisco.

Buy Now, $17.95

2. 'The Saboteur'

Unlike many of the games on this list, The Saboteur transports players back to the time of World War 2. As the war unfolds, players will need to step into the shoes of a saboteur named Sean Devlin as he attempts to sabotage the Nazis from within Paris. It’s an action-packed adventure full of gadgets and weapons, as well as stealthy takedowns that feel like a perfect amalgamation of the action gameplay Max Payne fans have come to know and love.

Buy Now, $19.99

3. 'Mafia 2: Definitive Edition'

Another diversion from the world of the modern-day, Mafia 2 thrusts players into the 1940s, where they take on the role of an up-and-coming member of the Mafia. Set in a massive open-world city, think GTA but in the ’40s, and you’ve got a recipe for success. The studio behind the game also recently remastered it, making it an even more enjoyable experience on modern systems. If you’re looking for a deep story that leaves you questioning your own decisions at times, Mafia 2 has plenty to offer.

Buy Now, $19.99

4. 'Scarface: The World is Yours'

Some action-movie fans might not be a huge fan of how much Scarface: The World is Yours changes the movie’s ending, but it's something that had to happen to make the game work. Picking up at the iconic ending of one of the most iconic movies out there, players step into the shoes of one Tony Montana as he works for revenge against the one who brought his empire crashing down, Alejandro Sosa. It’s an action-packed adventure full of fantastic one-liners, tons of shooting, and a whole lot of great Scarface moments you won’t want to miss.

Buy Now, $39.95

5. 'True Crime: Streets of LA'

The True Crime series started here, and it still stands as one of the best GTA-alternative action titles out there. True Crime: Streets of LA puts players into the shoes of a police officer set on cleaning up the city of Los Angeles. The gameplay is similar to GTA and Max Payne and takes a lot of the same cover-based cues as you’d expect to see in action games from this era (it was released in 2003). It’s an exceptionally fun action game, and you’ll find plenty to do as you explore the city, taking down criminals and unraveling the mysteries that await you.

Buy Now, $24.99

6. 'The Godfather: The Game'

Looking to put more mafia in your life, then look no further than The Godfather: The Game. While it doesn’t follow the events of the movies, it is set within the same universe and does include a lot of the same characters. It even includes voice acting from a number of the original actors in the movies, creating a fantastic and enjoyable action-adventure in a universe that you’ll already recognize. 

Buy Now, $59.95

7. 'WET'

Few games offer the same insane level of high-octane gameplay as WET does. The action feels like it was pulled directly from a Kill Bill action film, and that’s not a bad thing at all. While it’s a bit faster-paced than the Max Payne games, you’ll find plenty to love as you play through bounty hunter Rubi Malone’s story. Create combos, take down enemies with tons of different weapons, and even take advantage of the staple slow-time mechanic to live out your ultimate action shooty dreams in this old-school action title.

Buy Now, $51.95

8. 'True Crime: New York City'

The second and last title in the True Crime series, True Crime: New York City released in 2005. Despite its age, it still stands as one of the best action-packed games you’ll find out there inspired by Max Payne. It includes a lot of the same mechanics as True Crime: Streets of LA, as players step into the role of Marcus Reed, an ex-gang member turned police officer. The story is strong, the action is frantic, and there’s plenty to enjoy as you explore the city, working your way towards a Detective badge.

Buy Now, $49.89

9. 'Stranglehold'

Designed as a sequel to John Woo’s 1992 action film, Hard Boiled, Stranglehold takes a lot of cutes from the Max Payne series. Dark and gritty levels are filled with tons of enemies to take down as you fight back against a number of triad groups as Police Inspector Tequila Yuen. The campaign is roughly six to eight hours, making it the perfect length for those who want a good action game that doesn’t waste a lot of time.

Buy Now, $9.99

10. 'Sleeping Dogs'

The final entry in our list, but by no means the last, Sleeping Dogs was originally intended as a sequel to the True Crime series. However, the developers changed the title at the last second, branding it as its own entity altogether. The result is an action masterpiece. Players can unlock upgrades, take part in martial arts fights, and explore the city of Hong Kong in one of the coolest action games released to date. Fight enemies with your fists, guns, and even weapons like knives and cleavers, until you’re the last man standing in this delightful action-adventure.

Buy Now, $19.99

11. 'Wanted: Weapons of Fate'

Picking up roughly five hours after the events of the movie, Wanted: Weapons of Fate puts players directly in control of Wesley Gibson as he continues his transformation into a deadly assassin. In this fast-paced action game, players will need to take down enemies with tons of weapons, all while making use of the Wanted series’ iconic bullet magic. It’s a fun game, though it does fall short of some of the others on our list. Still, if you’re looking for some classic third-person shooter action, there are worse games out there.

Buy Now, $24.99

12. 'Total Overdose'

If you’re after over-the-top third-person action, then it’s time for you to take a Total Overdose. This old-school shooter is chock full of beautiful environments, enemies, and a ton of weapons to take advantage of. In Total Overdose, players take on the role of criminal Ramiro Cruz, who is hauled out of jail to help the DEA investigate a drug cartel overlord. This all leads to an insane mission through the Mexican underworld that players aren’t bound to forget anytime soon.

Buy Now, $1.49

13. 'Chili Con Carnage'

If you want even more over-the-top action like Total Overdose, then you’ll definitely want to check out the PSP exclusive Chili Con Carnage. This title picks up with Ramiro Cruz as he takes down more drug lords, fights corrupt bandits, and completes various missions throughout multiple delightful levels. It’s a heck of a follow-up to Total Overdose and one that Max Payne fans will fall in love with thanks to its intense action and wise-cracking protagonist.

Buy Now, $90.99

14. '10,000 Bullets'

Step into the shoes of a deadly hitman named Crow. But Crow isn’t just any old hitman, he’s been blessed with the “gunslinger” ability, which allows him to control time. Players will need to make use of this ability a lot as they play through the story, which features waves and waves of enemies and hazards they have to shoot their way through. This game is pure action, through and through, and it feels like an almost un-ending action scene ripped straight out of Max Payne at times.

Buy Now, $22.20

15. 'Made Man'

If you can’t get enough of the mafia storylines on this list, then hold on to your seats, we’ve got one more for you to check out. Made Man follows Joey Verola as he moves from the war-torn jungles of Vietnam to the streets of New York, where he slowly begins a rise through the criminal underworld. The story is loosely based on authentic events and includes action-packed sequences underscored by some of the best-licensed music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Buy Now, $3.49

16. 'El Matador'

Released during the heyday of third-person shooters, El Matador borrows a lot of mechanics from the Max Payne series, chiefly its action-packed shooting sequences, cover-based combat, and wise-cracking characters. Step into the shoes of El Matador, a DEA special agent tasked with taking down some of the most dangerous drug barons that Central and South America has ever seen. But make sure you strap in before you start the game as El Matador is a nonstop, action-packed ride from start to finish.

Buy Now, $3.99

17. 'Spec-Ops: The Line'

While a lot of third-person shooters out there consist of action-packed sequences and wise-cracking protagonists, Spec Ops: The Line takes a more dramatic and serious approach to the action. In Spec Ops: The Line, players step into the role of a Delta Force team as they navigate the war-torn lands of Dubai following a cataclysmic sandstorm. The team picks up a mysterious radio signal, and while investigating it discovers a terrible secret, one that will leave many players emotionally gripped by the game’s story. It’s a culmination of great gameplay and really deep storytelling that many third-person shooters miss out on these days.

Buy Now, $29.99
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