Originally Posted by pROvIs
If you are concerned with story yes but if not its not a big deal
Mr. pROvIs is right, but, if I may jump in, I think the story is somewhat important.
It's true, the game does emphasize its gameplay mechanics, but both games in the series were designed to tell a story too. (The second game is quite referential to the first. Max Payne fans know Captain Baseball Bat Boy well.)
I recommend playing through the original first, and, for a dollar, you could at least stockpile the second. (The first isn't going to be expensive anyway, since it's about 10 years old.)
Indeed, you won't go wrong for a dollar; Max Payne was a good series for its time.