For Max Payne, the tragedies that took his loved ones years ago are wounds that refuse to heal. No longer a cop, close to washed up and addicted to pain killers, Max takes a job in São Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco, in an effort to finally escape his troubled past. But... Read More »
Release Date: 18/05/12
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Max Payne 3 Review
“I take a seat at my desk with the sun slowly setting through the window, it’s beams broken by the blinds that have been tilted down just enough so that I could see the blinking cursor on the screen. My steaming hot mug of tea stares up at me daring me to take a sip before I dive head on into getting the task I have set myself completed; this review needs to be written but there are so many other things I want to be doing. The hazy green glow from the Xbox catches my eye as it pulses, the lights on the controller dance around the pad like a merry go round trying to hypnotise me, draw me in and away from my goal, but not today. Gone is the man who is easily distracted, this time I know what needs to be done and I will not stop until I achieve what I set out to do.”
I know what you are thinking; “pretty strange way to start a review Joe”. Usually I would agree with, you but as soon as I put the controller down on my first experience of Max Payne 3 I found an inner monologue running though my head setting the scene, pointing out little things that I usually wouldn’t notice. What’s even stranger still is that it is the style, finesse, characters and story that stick with you when you turn your machine off after a Max Payne 3 session and not really the gameplay. Max Payne has changed his look but that’s really about it. Some people would say that’s not necessarily a bad thing; other Max Payne games handled quite well, but then you need to remember that The Fall of Max Payne was released in 2003, 9 years ago, and times and technologies have changed.
So let me set the scene for you; Max Payne 3 sees us join Max at his lowest ebb, he is a drunk. Not only is he a drunk, he’s addicted to painkillers. From the opening cinematic showing Max in his apartment downing a bottle of Bourbon trying to block out all of his pain you know you are in for a dark ride. You are witnessing the further demise of a once happy man and even though a lot of time has passed he still cannot get past the death of his family. But a man still has to work, not that he really wants to; Max is now in Brazil working for a wealthy family acting as their personal security, and after the trophy wife of one of the family is kidnapped Max embarks on a journey filled with blood, bullets, betrayals, loneliness and all other themes from previous Max Payne games.
The story is filled with great characters who are portrayed brilliantly; as a performance, Max himself is utterly stunning. James McAfferey doesn’t phone in the performance of Max Payne – to me this is the best character performance in a video game bar none, and with the subject that he has to work with it truly is an impressive achievement. It’s not only Max Payne who shines through, the whole list of supporting characters, good and bad are well rounded, with clear motivations and have fantastic voice actors at their helms. It’s typical Rockstar stuff.
When you throw these fantastic characters into great surroundings you certainly have a set of environments that blossom. From the typical dark dingy bars and industrial areas that we have been accustomed to in previous titles we now have the vibrant and colourful Favellas of San Paolo which certainly are a step away from the norm. When I first saw the trailers for MP3 I was concerned that the vibrant colours would detract from the mood of the game, but my fears have not been realised. Everything comes together perfectly to create such an engaging environment that, while evolving from the original games, still feels right.
No longer is the bulk of the story being told in comic book format; it now plays out in cutscenes, but that isn’t a bad thing. These are done so well, with certain phrases popping up on screen during dialogue, and a style not too dissimilar to (the utterly awful) Kane and Lynch 2 where it looks as if you are viewing a YouTube video. The cutscene intentionally distorts, loses colour and helps get across the mental fragility of Max. I really cannot stress enough just how much I enjoy the presentation of this game, it is one of the best looking games of this generation.
Seven paragraphs in and I haven’t really mentioned how the game handles; there is a very good reason for that. In a lot of places it doesn’t actually handle all that well. That’s not to say that it detracts too much from the overall experience but Max himself feels like you are trying to control a rock, movement isn’t slick and it reminded me as if it had just been pulled straight out of the previous title in the series. When you go from playing Uncharted 3, popping in and out of cover flawlessly, moving easily around, it is quite obvious just how bad Max moves. Is that a deliberate move by Rockstar, to highlight Max getting older, heavier? I don’t think so at all.
I kept finding myself caught behind pillars and walls, and when you have fifteen angry Brazilians shooting at you with Uzis it is not a good position to be in. It’s not just the movement, the aiming is pretty shoddy in places. You can choose to play with semi-lock on or free-aim; semi lock essentially locks onto the body of the next closest enemy and makes the game pretty simple, and free aim does what it says but you do need to play around with the sensitivity before it feels anywhere near manageable.
Other features that have made the jump from MP2 are the bullet time and Shoot Dodge. You gain adrenaline by shooting fools in the face, and then you can slow down time and shoot even more fools in even more of their faces. It works pretty well, although I can’t say I have found myself using either too much unless I’m forced to. Regenerating health isn’t present in MP3 which I have really enjoyed; as you get shot a silhouette fills up with red and when it reaches the top you die. To regenerate health you have to take painkillers which plays a nice little animation of Max grabbing them out of his pocket, swallowing them down and dropping the container on the floor. It makes a nice change to not hide behind a wall for a few seconds after taking numerous shots to the torso, and it certainly makes the game a big challenge, even on the medium difficulty.
I have found myself seeing the ultra stylish death screen on more occasions than I care to remember because I just kept dying, I hate the phrase but it feels a little “old school”. What the game does do though if you are dying at the same section again and again it will help you out. After a few deaths when you load it will give you a bit more ammo than last time if you were low, then if you die a load more times after that and you have no painkillers it will give you some painkillers to help you get through it. It’s a little touch, and one that was much appreciated on certain occasions where it literally took me a couple of hours to get past one three minute shoot out. I have heard some people complain about the difficulty spike, but I have actually found myself enjoying it.
With seventeen chapters I found the single player campaign a decent length, especially with the numerous restarts (I didn’t find that was a cheap tactic to elongate the campaign) and after the credits role you can then jump into a pretty decent multiplayer component. With typical deathmatch/team deathmatch modes as well as some really imaginative modes (Payne Killer and Gang Wars stand out) there certainly is enough to keep you going with Max Payne 3. Some of the hit detection feels a bit dodgy on multiplayer, and the same control issues are in full effect here as well – who knows, we may get a patch which rectifies some of these issues. The main thing to remember though is that it certainly isn’t all about the single player campaign, multiplayer holds its own and it is going to be supported fully by Rockstar (the Season Pass costs you £19.99 if you want all the DLC for one cost and will save you a third on the RRP) so there will be plenty to keep you entertained.
- Fantastic performances by main and support cast.
- Great presentation throughout.
- Some of the best visuals this generation.
- Slow-mo shooting is always fun.
- No regenerating health.
- Poor movement controls.
- Technical issues occur – lack of sound, hard crashes.
Presenting Multiplayer Gameplay Part Two, the second video in our two-part series showcasing Max Payne 3′s Multiplayer. Max Payne 3 Multiplayer incorporates the gritty storytelling and intense gunplay the Max Payne games are famous for into an epic online experience. Featuring modes like Gang Wars, where events f... Read More »
The explosive, brand new official trailer for Max Payne 3 is here – revealing more of the game’s story, beginning with the kidnapping of Rodrigo Branco’s beautiful young wife, Fabiana, while under Max’s protection. Max fights to uncover the truth and return her to safety amidst a treacherous web... Read More »
Rockstar Games have just released their list of achievements/trophies for their upcoming title, Max Payne 3. The new screenshots below showcase a few of these, although some have been omitted from the list due to spoilers. Feel the Payne Story Complete [MEDIUM] Serious Payne Story Complete [HARD] Maximum Payne Story Co... Read More »