“This was like Baghdad with g-strings.”
The cynical but humorous alcoholic hero Max Payne is back in action after 9 years of waiting. With Rockstar’s ”biggest and boldest marketing effort thus far,” standards and hopes were high for the game. After multiple release delays since 2009, the wait has well paid off.
Max Payne 3 is a third person shooter with a large emphasis on cinematic and film noire elements. The series after all, is credited with being the pioneer of “bullet time.” The developer Rockstar, is known for notable titles such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead series, and L.A Noire. True to form, Rockstar delivered an incredible title.
Display: The game’s cinematics are rendered from the actual gameplay engine, making the transition between gameplay and cinematic seamless. Being that the game is cut scene heavy, the style of the cinematics is not a strain on the player.
The in house developed RAGE engine is absolutely gorgeous, and complements the cinematics extremely well. Characters are completely realistic with normal looking facial and body movements. In fact, Rockstar used motion capture technology on the voice actor for Max Payne, James McCaffery to make him look the most realistic. Action sequences are fluid, and bullet time makes each gunshot and wound look pretty epic. My only criticism of the graphics would be the environments. Despite the themed variety, all of them appear quite generic and foreboding. At least the environments match Max’s generally poor disposition.
Storyline: The point of the game. Max Payne 3 puts a massive emphasis on storyline when compared to most other shooters to date. The main character is frequently making internal monologues, and long cut scenes to show his drug addled sufferings and problems. The plot itself is enticing with many turns and twists. One really gets a feel for the main character and the other characters he encounters. Again, this is the film noire style of the game showing itself in prime.
Rockstar’s co-founder and president Sam Houser said of Max Payne ”This is Max as we’ve never seen him before, a few years older, more world-weary and cynical than ever.” This is certainly true in the actual game. He is a dynamic, believable, sympathetic but sometimes overbearing character. In the era of AAA blockbuster first person shooters and broad audience titles, it is refreshing to see an actually good character as part of a game. Max Payne can get on ones nerves after a while though.
Without spoiling the plot however, I will make mention there is one major plot hole that hurts the story to a marginal degree. In fact, it’s so large that Ben Croshaw (known as Yahtzee from his Zero Puncuation series) says that “one could drive a glacier through it.” If you’ve gotten at least halfway through the game, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Gameplay: The game is a third person shooter with emphasis on use of cover and bullet time. Bullet time is where the player executes a slow motion action (such as diving or rolling) in order to gain a slight advantage over his foes…and look totally badass while doing it. At first glance, the idea of bullet time would seem either overpowered or too much like a quicktime event. In Max Payne 3, it is in fact neither. Bullet time has a very limited use time, and if you don’t execute it correctly, you can easily find yourself dead. It takes skill and timing to maximize kills using this mechanic.
The weapons doing the shooting in this third person shooter, known as guns seemed disappointing to me. Choices are essentially limited to assault rifle, shotgun, pistol or dual wield pistols. Even though there were apparently numerous different guns, they all felt generic and basically the same to me.
The singleplayer campaign does get progressively difficult as it moves on. A few mini boss fights appear in the form of a helmeted mercenary wielding a seemingly infinite ammo machine gun. Mainly though, the firefights just become more complex and filled with more enemies to kill.
Bottom Line: A top-notch quality title that is one of the few currently on the market that I would say is worth the $60 price tag. If you can endure some of Max’s more annoying moments, and find your own reconciliation with the plot hole, I promise you will enjoy this title. I have not played such a quality third person shooter since Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The game is a rare modern example of how a big blockbuster title and franchise can be made with high quality.
“When had I ever needed to invite trouble in? It always found me, no matter where I hid.”