Almost ten years after the events of Max Payne 2, new developer Rockstar brings a new chapter in the life of Max Payne. Set in the wild lands of Brazil, can Max continue to kick some slow motion ass or will he come crashing down?
After a huge bar brawl, nine years after the events of Max Payne 2, Max Payne is forced to flee his New Jersey apartment. During the bar fight, Max is confronted with Raul Passos who convinces him there is plenty of work for him down in Brazil. Down in Brazil, Max is contracted to protect the extremely wealthy Branco family. During a penthouse party, members of the Branco family are kidnapped by a street gang called Comando Sombra. This fuels Max for a long trail of revenge, backstabbing, political corruptness all while fighting through favelas, night clubs and rooftops. Overall, the story is a great tale filled with twists and turns that keep you engaged in the game. Great characters and little easter eggs that players will enjoy thoroughly.
One of the strongest aspects of Max Payne 3, is Max Payne. Max is one of the most down to earth and complex character I’ve ever seen in a video game. On the outside he is a painkiller addicted alcoholic, but on the inside he is a character full of morals and depth. Max narrates the entire game both aloud and in his head. It’s a great feature and it really immerses you deeper into the game and the character of Max Payne. One negative though is that while playing through the game you will literally kill hundreds if not thousands of gang members, army soldiers and other poor Brazilians and it kind of hurts the believability of the game and character of Max Payne. I understand that it’s a video game and it’s not supposed to represent realism, but it hurts the believability of such a believable character.
Max Payne 3 is a linear third person shooter. The goal? Get to the end of the level, preferably without dying. You pick up painkillers along the way to use as health packs as there is no regenerating health. Max Payne is capable of bullet time and bullet dodge. Bullet dodging is leaping into the air and diving around in slow motion. These work great and are need to pull of some tricky headshots or actually dodge bullets. The mechanic works great for the most part although while bullet dodging if you hit anything, such as slightly grazing your leg on a table you will be ripped straight back into the thick of it. Max Payne 3 also features a cover system which works well but has a few hiccups every now and then. For example if you’re rolling around on the ground after a bullet dodge and you want to transfer into cover, you cannot simply transition from the ground to cover. Max stands up (and occasionally gets his head blown off) then walks around for a bit and then finally gets into cover. There are many weapons at Max’s disposal such as shotguns, rifles, pistols and machine guns. Max can carry up to three weapons. He can dual wield pistols or submachine guns or save his second hand for a rifle or shotgun. Every weapon you carry you see on Max. So you can’t have dual wielded guns while you’re carrying a shotgun, but not to worry because the levels are littered with guns.
My main complaint with Max Payne 3 is the little gameplay problems. When they add up the game can really be game breaking. When you couple the strange problem where Max shoots his gun directly into the sky or won’t shoot it all with Max stumbling around trying to get into cover it can be a very, very frustrating game. There is also quite a difficulty curve in the later quarter of the game, that could frustrate casual players. Max Payne’s movement also feels stiff. For a guy who jumps through windows and bullet dodges over tables and chairs, he moves incredibly slow and seem s to fumble around cover and other objects. More than once, Max’s motor skills got me killed and it can be very annoying.
Max Payne 3 looks and sounds amazing. The cutscenes are awesome and hide the preloading, you’ll never see a load screen past the main menu. The world looks beautiful, Brazil is a colourful place and Rockstar have outdone themselves with the visuals. Character models also look great and have nearly perfect lip syncing. The soundtrack is solid and it’s very fitting, Brazilian drum beats accompany Max on his Brazilian journey and it sounds great. The voice acting is also top notch and features the original James McCaffrey as Max Payne and some fairly unheard-of South American actors to voice the rest of the characters. A nice touch Rockstar implemented was when the Brazilians are speaking their natural Portuguese, there are no subtitles. It’s just a small thing I noticed, that immerses you in the Max Payne world. The preloading during the cutscenes is a great touch but I can see it becoming problematic. While playing the story mode most of the time you cannot skip the lengthy cutscenes. For players just looking for gameplay and gamers running through the second time, I can really see this being an issue. I do hope it doesn’t cause casual gamers to put the controller down.
Competitive multiplayer is a huge part of Max Payne 3. Although this mode is very much hit and miss. The matchmaking is horrendous with no localised searching as it seems to just throw people from all around the world in the same game. The multiplayer also seems way to dense than is required. You can rank up guns, change your in game character, and level up but it just takes forever to get the required XP. The multiplayer can be fun and as you rank up you unlock tremendous advantages over the lower level players, which again is problematic as it will turn off a lot of players. Max Payne’s multiplayer will either be something you’ll love or hate, with all these issues such as terrible spawns, over powered weapons and bad connections, I can see a lot of people ditching it to return to Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Max Payne 3 is an amazing game. It has great story, great presentation and a great overall feel. It only really stumbles in the otherwise solid gameplay. I had a lot of fun with the singleplayer and I thought the story and characters were extremely engaging. I recommend this for the great story and good gameplay. If you’re not interested in story games, I’d forgive you for not bothering with it, but I must still recommend it.