Review: Max Payne 3
Long-time Max Payne fan Reagan Morris takes a look at the latest chapter of the franchise, and finds horrors of the past still haunt the game's protagonist.
Reagan Morris | Wednesday, June 13 2012
Product type: Third-person shooter
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Test Platform: Xbox 360
Max Payne 3 manages to set itself apart from the original series in both good and bad ways; this time he’s living his nightmares.
Over ten years ago Remedy released Max Payne: the graphics were state of the art and the gameplay introduced elements that set it apart from any other shooter on the market. What Max Payne also delivered was one of the first truly mature stories, set in a film noir style, that saw poor Max deal with the murder of his wife and baby daughter.
Max Payne 3 opens in a way that will make Payne fans wonder what else has been thrown onto our reluctant hero’s shoulders. Shaven head, unshaven face, torn clothing and a burnt, bloodied and disfigured man crawling away in agony ahead of him: something has gone tragically wrong and the Pulp Fiction-esque storytelling promises to slowly but surely unravel everything. While the back and forth may set to confuse some gamers, it’s a great way to tie in the Max we knew so well with the man he has now become. Just when you think you’re starting to know what’s happening relives another of the horrors he’s managed to fall into.
Max Payne 3 is a cinematic show-stopper. Games trailers have, for too long, failed to carry the energy and excitement through into cutscenes, but here everything manages to stay fresh and entertaining with great post-processing and significant words/sentences becoming a part of the scene. While the presentation steals the show, it also manages to wrest away important scenes that would have been great to control yourself; too often you’ll reach for the trigger forgetting that the control isn’t limited - it’s non-existent. This creates a game that is all pizzazz and style with very little substance.
You’ll soon recognise the formula Rockstar have used: cutscene, shoot, cutscene. While that may be trivialising it a little, and it’s not true of the entire game, it’s not too far off the mark. Sure there are moments where you’re walking without having to fire, but if you spot someone it’s a good bet that you’ll either be trying to shoot-dodge them to the ground, or a cutscene will trigger so you can’t. It seems that whoever Max is after this time has the money and means to get absolutely anyone on his side; it’ll be no surprise to see 1400+ kills for your first playthrough.
Something that seems counter to previous Max Payne titles is that instead of being expected to dive slow motion through enemy fire to land kills, you’ll be taking cover to survive. While the trademark shoot-dodge does make its return, it’s better left for multiplayer - or to get out of sticky situations.
Despite the shortcomings, the game is still amazingly fun. The animation system Rockstar are building is absolutely superb. Sure, there are some small control issues like those seen in RDR and GTA4 but it’s on a much smaller scale.
The one thing that’ll have you coming back is also the aspect that feels as though it’s had the least polish. Multiplayer is ridiculously addictive, and with the ability to unlock and create different profiles for different scenarios, everyone is bound to find something they’ll enjoy. The main problem is that the match-making isn’t ideal and you’ll often come up against people many levels above you, and it’ll show. Create a crew, recruit some friends and make yourself a quirky logo; you will be playing this one often.
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