How to get Max Payne working in OS X under VirtualBox

August 05, 2010

How cool is this?

Max Payne, the very first original version, is one of the best single-person shooter games I’ve played. Max Payne 2 was fine too, but I missed the original, haven’t played it for years. So tonight, I figured I see what are my options to get to play it in OS X.

There was a box version released for OS X and some people sell it on eBay, but I was too impatient to wait for shipping and didn’t want to pay $20-$30. Didn’t want to torrent it either. So what are my legal options?

Turns out Windows has this digital game distribution service, Games for Windows. Assuming you already have VirtualBox set up which I think is one of the best virtualization options these days, you just log in there and buy the original Max Payne for $10.

… or so I thought. Turns out my VirtualBox drive did not have enough space and I needed to resize it first. I found crazy instructions that involved all sorts of weird hard disk cloning options that I did not like. So finally I found these instructions that got the job very nicely done for me.

Ok cool. So now we have Windows and VirtualBox running and we can buy and download Max Payne. Now, when you install and run it, it probably fails with “This game requires DirectX 8 drivers.” What the what?

VirtualBox supports Direct3D, but it’s not turned on by default. To do this, you need to go through a few tricks.

First, shut down your virtual machine and turn on 3d support in the virtual machine configuration.

Next, boot Windows in SAFE MODE and install VirtualBox guest additions. Make sure you enable “Direct3D support (experimental)” when installing. You can seemingly do this in normal mode, but apparently VirtualBox overwrites some Windows 3D drivers in a way that only works in safe mode. So, just do the install in safe mode and reboot.

Great. Now I could start the game. Ahh I missed you Max Payne. Haven’t played it for like 6 or 7 years.

The final problem I ran into was that mouse tracking was too fast in the game and Max was spinning around like crazy. Apparently, this is because of mouse integration between OS X and Windows. So, for the duration of your gameplay, just disable the mouse integration. Click on the mouse icon in VirtualBox status bar and disable it, and you can enable it again later.

Max Payne is an old enough game that the performance is adequate even on my Macbook with full graphics settings.

Great stuff. I am looking forward to several wasted gaming nights.