Max Payne Wiki

This article is about the game mechanic, you may be looking for the Max Payne 3 multiplayer burst

"Einstein was right. Time is relative to the observer. When you're looking down the barrel of a gun, time slows down. Your whole life flashes by, heartbreak and scars. Stay with it, and you can live a lifetime in that split second."
Max Payne[1]
Max Payne Screenshot 30

Bullet Time is activated. Notice the visible flying bullets and the lit hourglass icon.

Bullet Time is a special power used by Max Payne, Mona Sax and the multiplayer characters of the Max Payne series. When activated, everything around them slows down, while they can aim and fire weapons in real time. This gives characters a unique edge over enemies, especially when severely outnumbered, or when precision is required in clutch moments.


Bullet Time runs on a limited resource of "Adrenaline." The player can see how much they have left in the hourglass-shaped meter (or vertical bar in the third installment) in the bottom corner of the screen. When activated, Bullet Time instantly slows down effects in the world; character movement, sounds, debris and water effects, and most importantly bullets. The key feature of Bullet Time is allowing the player the opportunity to see incoming bullets and avoid them, as well as making precise shots even while targets are in motion.

In Max Payne, the only way to regenerate Bullet Time is through killing enemies. When Max takes out an enemy with a headshot, he will replenish a little more Bullet Time.

In Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne , Bullet Time also regenerates slowly when it is not in use. Additionally, if Max takes out several enemies at once while in Bullet Time, the hourglass will turn yellow, causing Max to move faster while simultaneously making time flow even slower. This gives Max an even larger advantage over his enemies.


Bullet time in Max Payne 3, notice how the screen flashes with light

In Max Payne 3, Bullet Time is charged through injuring and killing enemies, with more elaborate kills reaping greater rewards. Adrenaline is also gained when Max is attacked and takes damage, and it's even possible to slowly charge up Adrenaline when attacked while hiding behind cover. When Max enters Last Man Standing, he will automatically enter Bullet Time, giving him several seconds in real time to take out an enemy to prevent his death. If Max succeeds in killing the enemy who dealt the felling shot, Max will recover, but all of his Adrenaline and 1 of his painkillers will be taken as consequence.

Reloading Trick[]

In Max Payne 2, when Max reloads in Bullet Time, he will use a stylish reloading trick by spinning around in a circle. This decreases reload time to near-zero, and allows him to dodge incoming fire. When the hourglass is yellow, the camera will follow Payne as he does it. The reloading trick is essential for weapons with a small ammo capacity such as the sawed-off shotgun, or weapons that may otherwise take a long time to reload, such as the pump-action shotgun.

Max Payne 3 multiplayer Burst[]

Main article: Bullet Time (burst)

Bullet Time appears in the Max Payne 3 Multiplayer as one of the premiere bursts.

When used in Max Payne 3's new multiplayer mode, Bullet Time works off of line of sight with other players. When a player enters Bullet Time anyone they see, and anyone who sees them, will incur slow-down. This also chains to anyone else on the map who happens to see another character who is slowed down. This makes it so players running around in far corners of the map away from the slow-motion gunplay do not feel the effects of Bullet Time. To escape an opponent's Bullet Time, simply shootdodge or roll behind cover to break their line of sight on you.

Bullet Time Sequences[]

These are some special sequences that appeared in every chapter in Max Payne 3 except for chapter XII.

These sequences activates after some checkpoints. For example at the beginning of chapter II, Max breaks through the window with a gang member with an unlimited bullet time to kill them. Some of these Bullet Time sequences are required for getting achievements. For example getting six kills while breaking out of the window in chapter II earns you the achievement Out the Window.


  • Bullet Time is a registered trademark of Warner Bros. Entertainment that is licensed for Rockstar Games' use, and was coined during the development of The Matrix , where it was used extensively to display slow-motion action, however, Max Payne's use of slow-motion was based upon John Woo's stylistic filming of gunplay sequences, also known as gun-fu.
  • The Bullet Time gauge in the second game, as well as the Bullet Time Burst icon for Max Payne 3 is actually two pistol cartridges, joined together at their tips, creating an hourglass shape.
  • Bullet Time also appears in Grand Theft Auto V as Michael De Santa's (one of the protagonists) special ability.