Game Review: Max Payne 3
I’m a big fan of the Max Payne games. I’ve always been a fan of hard boiled detective fiction and it was great seeing that carried over into games. Remedy Entertainment also captured all the great things about film noir in a game. Combined with fun gunplay and bullet time, you had yourselves a formula for great games. This time Rockstar Games gave it a shot and while the story was not as strong as the first two games the gameplay fires on all cylinders and with great multiplayer experience Max Payne 3 is definitely worth your attention.
The story picks up years later after the events of Max Payne 2. Still haunted by the death of his wife and baby girl, as well as the events of the last few games, Max Payne is now a full blown alcoholic and addicted to pain killers. But rather than stay in New York, Max decides to take up and offer from an old friend and moves to São Paulo, Brazil and becomes a body guard for a rich businessman and his wife. Of course Max never has the best of luck and soon enough his boss’ wife is kidnapped and he has to deal with the corruption of São Paulo in order to find her. The story has some interesting twists and turns that keep it moving, but ultimately it wasn’t as strong as previous entries. Gone is the noir aspect that made the previous stories great and made the series so renown. Instead we get a story that feels like something straight out of a Tony Scott movies. Even the way the cutscenes are edited have the same style as you would see in a Tony Scott movie. Now I’m a fan of his movies, and this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but overall the story felt pretty typical. But worry not, we still get the same old tortured, cynical Max Payne you know and love. They did a great job of showing how haunted he was by past events and making him a broken man. I just wish that aspect could have been carried throughout the entire game and just not the first half of it. James McCaffery is back as the voice of Max Payne as well as the motion capture and he nails the role once again.
The gameplay has seen a nice improvement over the last game. For starters now you have a cover system making it easier to avoid the thousands of bullets that will come at you. I only wish you had the ability to move from cover to cover since at this point so many games have allowed you to do so it feels like Rockstar is a little behind on that front especially considering the game’s more linear nature a suppose to the GTA series or Red Dead Redemption. Bullet Time is back and work just as well as it did in the previous games. Expect to use the shoot dodge mechanic for some flashy gun play making you feel like a badass straight out of a John Woo film. It all comes together in part to the Euphoria engine allowing for some great animations, especially with how Max reacts to the world around him. If he performs a shoot dodge and hits a wall, he reacts to it as any person normally would. Even the reloading animations were given a nice attention to detail. The animation system also allows for Max to rotate his body while in a prone position allowing you to take out enemies while still on the ground as suppose to risking damage while trying to get up. Gone is the ability to wield a ton of weapons at once. Max is only allowed 3 guns: 2 short range and one long range. You can dual wield however you’ll have to drop whatever 2 handed weapon you have. Also back is the use of pain killers to restore health. And these are more valuable than before thanks to a new mechanic called Last Man Standing. Should you managed to take too much damage instead of dying time slows down allowing you to kill the enemy the last shot you. If you kill him, life is restored and you live to fight on. However this mechanic only works so long as you have pain killers. When this mechanic works it works really well, but there are time when you find your self facing a wall as Max is turning thus blocking your shots. Also sometime there are enemies grouped together when it happens and it can be confusing which one you have to shoot though the game does try to guide you as to which enemy it is. Also if you only had a few bullets left in your gun make sure you hit the target since Max can’t reload during Last Man Standing.
The biggest addition to the game is of course the multiplayer mode. I had a lot of worries about how this would play, especially with the use of bullet time, but Rockstar managed to balance all of that out so the bullet time mechanic can’t be spammed. However if someone uses bullet time however is in their line of sight is also affected so it make for some strategic gameplay especially on team deathmatch. You have your typical deathmatch modes but there are also two modes that make the multiplayer worth it. First off is Payne Killer, where players start off trying to kill each other and the first person to make a kill becomes Max Payne and the first person to be killed becomes Max’s friend Passos. The two characters have bullet time as well as slightly powerful guns and you have to keep racking up your score by killing the other players. Once a player kills one of the two characters they then become that respective character and it is their turn to rack up their score. Another mode that’s a lot of fun is Gang Wars. Here each team is a gang from the game and are given objectives to complete ranging from placing/disarming bombs, controlling positions or protecting/killing a target. This really forces players to work as a team otherwise you will fail. The team with the highest score at the end of all the chapters wins. You have the ability to create your own loadouts choosing what weapons and items are equipped to your custom avatar. You can completely customize your avatar to make them look however you choose from their hair style all the way to what clothes they wear. Of course you unlock weapons, items and equipment as you level up. You also have a Burst which works similar to a kill streak. Your Burst meter builds up as make kills and with each level of the meter comes a more powerful version of whichever Burst you have equipped. So say you have an ammo Burst, Level one allows you to shoot armor piercing bullets, level two gives you a more powerful assault rifle and level three gives you a grenade launcher. You have the ability to loot bodies, both friend and foe, to pick up extra cash, painkillers, or even help fill up your Burst meter. Also if a player kills you more than once you have to option to create a Vendetta against that player and if you manage to kill them you gain more XP. Over all the multiplayer is fun and everything works really well making it a unique experience while borrowing from previous games.
The game looks beautiful as we’ve come to expect from a Rockstar game. The levels themselves look great though the level designs themselves could have been better. There were too many time where I would find myself walking into an area and the enemies had a big advantage over me. The music was a great fit to the game and of course the Max Payne theme comes back with a few variations that will make you love it even more. There are almost no load times during the game, with cutscenes transitioning to gameplay seamlessly. And if the story and mulitplayer aren’t enough to keep you invested you can try your skill with the arcade mode. Here you have Score Attack where you build up a score to compete with other players or New York Minute where you have a minute to complete a chapter though killing enemies rewards you with time.There are also in game achievements that allow you to earn XP for multiplayer.
While the story wasn’t as great as it could have been the gameplay and multiplayer really make this a game worth playing again and again. It was great seeing Max back in action and being reminded why I love this character and the series so much. If you have the chance, give this one a go. You will not be disappointed.