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Max Payne 3 Review

/ Jun 5th, 2012 No Comments

Max Payne 3 Review

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3 is set nine years after the last game. Our favorite foul-mouthed, gun-slinging detective is now retired from the NYPD and living in New Jersey. After getting in big trouble with the local mob scene, Max decides it’s time to get away and finds himself in Brazil working private security for one of Sáo Paulo’s wealthiest families—the Branco’s.

Things don’t go well for Max (the never do, do they?), as he discovers all sorts of conspiracies in Sáo Paulo and gets a first-hand look at the disparity between the rich and poor. Developed by Rockstar (and not Remedy Entertainment, creators of the first two games), the third installment in the franchise is a superb, action-packed experience that’ll keep you bullet-timing for hours.

Story

At times, the plot is a little hard to follow, especially with its flashbacks that jump all over different locations (Brazil to New Jersey to Panama). There are a lot of important characters and pivotal moments that don’t get enough screen-time, and it’s almost as if the developers bit off a little more than they could chew. What helps make it work, though, is that it feels like one great big action-movie. There’s seldom a moment in this game when you aren’t shooting a gun at someone or blowing something up, and each violent scene is more gratifying than the last. Also working in the game’s favor is that it recaptures Max’s hardened personality. He’s still driven by the guilt and pain over the death of his wife and child, and you hear it in his iconic narrations (voiced brilliantly once again by actor James McCaffrey) as he talks about redemption and suicide.

Gameplay

Max Payne 3 Review

Max Payne 3 Review

The gameplay is exciting, though relatively simple. For the most part, you shoot your way through swarms of enemies to advance through the story and hit checkpoints. Bad guys make exciting, action-movie entrances (shooting from favela rooftops, popping out of moving trains, etc.). There are also a variety of on-the-rail moments. For instance early in the game, Max ends up hanging from a helicopter and you have to aim and shoot rockets being fired at him to survive.

The bullet-time is where this game shines (and it being Max Payne, it had better!). There are two ways to engage it: by diving in a direction or by activating bullet-time manually when you have adrenaline (which you gain by getting shot at). You’re never in a fair fight, so the only way to survive the campaign is to get good at using slow-motion. This makes for some fun experiences as you try to stage cinematic ways of clearing areas filled with bad guys.

The gameplay also has a couple of more innovative features that really add some gritty fun. One is the kill cam. In Max Payne 3, when you kill the last enemy in a scene the camera focuses on him in slow motion, allowing you to keep shooting like a maniac or just watch as the poor guy falls to the ground dramatically. The other feature is something called “Last Stand”. In the campaign, if you are shot to death but still have painkillers (which are used to heal), you go into bullet-time and have to kill the enemy that shot you in order to survive.

There are a variety of guns in the game and you have the ability to hold one heavy weapon and two light weapons (you can duel wield the light ones by dropping the heavy one). It’s pretty simple, but you don’t really need or want anything else because, hey, there’s bullet-time! The game also offers a cover system for the more reserved player. You’ll find yourself using it occasionally in big firefights, but don’t get too comfortable hiding behind walls because: 1) the AI in Max Payne 3 is realistic and will try to flank you, and 2) the game features destructible environments.

Graphics/Visuals

Max Payne 3 from Rockstar

Max Payne 3 from Rockstar

Visually, this game is beautiful and incredibly detailed. Rockstar claims to have spent a lot of time researching Sáo Paulo, and it definitely shows. Amazing set designs give players a realistic sense of both sides of the city (from overcrowded favelas ruled by local gangs, to high-rise mansions that host lavish parties for the rich). Flashbacks to New Jersey break up the beautiful, warm colors of Brazil and remind you of the dark, cold world Max comes from.

The in-game cut scenes employ a lot of stylized effects, including jarring video banding and colored filters. These gritty artistic additions are a little cheesy and in-your-face the first time you see them, but as the story develops and gets better you begin to accept them.

Multiplayer/Arcade

You wouldn’t expect it, but Max Payne 3 offers quite a bit of replay value after you beat the 10-12 hour long campaign. There’s an “Arcade” menu where you can replay levels from the story in one of two modes: “New York Minute” (a race against the clock where you get more time by killing enemies) and “Score Attack” (a challenge to rack up the most points and outscore others on the leaderboards). Both are fun additions; and though casual players probably won’t spend more than a few hours in these arcade modes, they at least offer an interesting way to re-experience scenes from the story.

The game’s multiplayer has already reeled in a hefty community on Xbox Live. It offers a solid experience with plenty of game types (try out “Gang Wars”!), a rank system, and some fun maps. There’s also a lot of customization available, with options that let you change your character’s appearance and loadout. It’s pretty derivative of other multiplayer experiences but there are a handful of things that set it apart from the rest. Some examples include a wagering system, limited bullet-time, and the ability to place vendettas on fellow gamers in a match.

Sound

Aside from a good story and some great visuals, Max Payne 3 has a top-notch soundtrack. (And is it any surprise? I mean, this is a Rockstar game after all.) Credit for the numb, hauntingly eerie soundtrack so befitting of Max’s character goes to the band Health, who composed the game’s score. They’ve done an amazing job creating music that captures the story’s vibe and gives the game a personality all its own. Other artists who provide music for this game include Casadiego (featuring DJ Leon) and Brazilian rapper Emicida.

Final Thoughts

Max Payne 3 is a success all across the board: story, graphics, gameplay, and even multiplayer. The best part of this game is that it revives the franchise as a fresh new experience. Brazil—with its beautiful colors and warm weather—is the last place you’d expect to find Max. But faithfulness to the character and a good story lead fans and newcomers alike on the enjoyable, adrenaline-pumping adventure. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to pick up your copy of the game and head down to South America as Max. Just remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of painkillers!

Overall Ratings – Max Payne 3 (XBox 360)

Gameplay:

8/10

Graphics:

10/10

Sound:

10/10

Story:

9/10

OVERALL SCORE:

93%

Romtin Erfani

Romtin Erfani

Romtin Erfani is just another kid in college whose been playing video games as long as he can remember. FPS games are his favorite, but he's been known to dabble in a little of everything.
Romtin Erfani

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