Max Panye 3: Review
Don’t forget to check out the audio review!
Since 1998, Rockstar Games is household name. When I hear that name, abundance of games come to mind. Midnight Club, State of Emergency, Manhunt, The Warriors, Red Dead, Bully, and the one sandbox giant to rule them all, Grand Theft Auto. The Max Payne series never really registered with me. Back in those days, story was only important to me only if I secretly wanted to be that character. I wanted to be CJ from San Andreas. I wanted to be Cochise . But who wants to be a widowed, pill abusing, disgraced cop? Well, for Max Payne, he never really had a choice.
Let’s start with Max’s backstory and work from there into the story of Max Payne 3. What’s great is that you don’t need to play the original 2 games to get who Max is. His family was brutally murdered by junkies and you spend the first two games clearing your name after being framed for murder and seeking the truth behind it. We meet Max following the events of the second game. No longer a detective, guilt and depression have left him deep in the shit. Addicting to painkillers and cheap liquor, Max is living is New Jersey waiting to die. A chance encounter has Max run into a old friend, an ex cop turned bodyguard name Raul Passos. Passos knows Max is in need and offers him a job in Sao Paulo, Brazil — working a protection detail for the wealthy and powerful family , the Brancos. Of course, events go from bad to worse to screw up as the Brancos are the targets of extortion plots by ruthless gangs and paramilitary groups.
While being set is a sunny Brazilian country, the game story is still very noire themed. Max Payne’s tale is full of intrigue, violence and sinister plots. Max’s inner demons keep him locked in his own personal hell and its a thrill to watch him fight them off. I laughed my ass off at Max as he stumbles and pukes, felt sorry for him when he stood over his family’s grave site and cheered when he survived every hellish gunfights. The presentation and gameplay is what really pulls you into the story. A friend of mine describe the game as a adaption of “Man On Fire”. The visual art style of Max Payne 3 feels like CSI: Miami meets LA Noire. There’s an abundance of scan lines, color saturation, and that sort of picture in picture used in the cutscenes and gameplay. It’s a lot to get use to at first but doesn’t get overpowering. There’s also a few tricks and thing I notice during my second playthrough. I can’t recall seeing any “NOW LOADING” screens in the story. Rockstar cleverly concealed it’s loading screens in its cutscenes, so you never really break from the action. This definitely something other game developers should take notice of and duplicate. Overall, the story raps up all loose ends and feels like a prefect summer action movie.
Max Payne 3 gameplay brings fresh precision and freedom to a 3rd person shooter. The design around animation, targeting, shooting, cover, and A.I. is top notch. Max’s signature Bullet Time is here as well. For a linear based story, you can feel the touches of freedom. Max can carry one or two single handed weapon and one two-handed weapon. If you choice to dual wield two single handed weapons, you’ll drop the two handed weapon. Everything feels seemless and make me want to experiment with all of the games firearms. Bullet time make you play like a badass as you sit in cover, only to “Shoot Dive” and clear out a room of enemies with headshots. One cool effect is when you shoot the last enemy in a room, the camera will zoom into and follow the bullet(s) as they hit your target, making for some impressive gory but cinematic effects. Some reviews I’ve read called this “over the top” and gratuitous but I feel it pulls you into the game and is sort of rewarding. Especially when you empty the entire clip into your foe. I’m evil like that. But your not invincible in this game at all. Shootouts in Max Payne 3 are not like a duck hunt Call of Duty mission. The A.I. really challenges you to move, and to keep from sitting still. They flank, rush, double team and throw grenades. Mid game, enemies start wearing flak jackets, vests, and helmets that force you to switch up your tactics. Luckily, Painkillers are available to replenish health as it won’t cover automatically. However, you have a painkiller when shot and low on health… your enter a sort of “last stand” mode. You’ll watch as Max’s body will fall and lean towards the enemy who shot you and if you can land a hit, you get a chunk of health back to fight some more. Shooting from the ground is a little awkward, but is just as realistic and smooth as running and gunning.
Max Payne 3’s Multiplayer is where Rockstar loses me. While all the smooth mechanics and graphics have transitioned into the multiplayer, it’s unbalanced controlled chaos. I have no issues with the game modes, customization, and/or leveling system. Everything I hate (and I do mean hate) is technical and could probably be fixed. Finding a room sometime takes far to long, so long that I want to quit and play something else. I feel like my shoots are damped by lag and my reaction time is never helps. And the spawning? Horrible. Even in an 8 man room, I’m spawning right on top of people, in the middle of firefights, and sometimes in the enemy spawn, even in team based games. This wouldn’t be so bad if they would have input a “spawn shield” but of course I die and die over and over. This problems, make the game multiplayer playable, but not worth spending hours grinding for rewards at all. I played GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption’s multiplayer religiously, but this is the weakest of the three to me. Their are some interesting ideas here though. Gang Wars is Rockstar attempt at bring story to mulitplayer, where there is narration in the beginning of each round depicting a story between waring gangs. There are five rounds with varied team based games — objectives range for “grab the drugs” CTF, to a Manhunt/assassination type of deathmatch. Definitely the freshest take on team deathmatch I’ve seen. The idea of setting “Vendettas” to an opponent who just kill you adds a nice chance at XP rewards toward weapons and apparel loadouts. Most notable and worth the mention is the use of bullet time in multiplayer. What should have been a nightmare, works surprisingly well. Bullet time only affects those in your line of sight and will deplete if killed. Rockstar Social Club lets you start or join crew of friends, and set up matches. Someone else will probably love the craziness of Max Payne 3’s multiplayer but to me the cons out weigh the pros.
Rockstar is promising a serious amount of DLC coming including Co-op for Arcade and New York Minute — a mode where your start with a minute of life and gain more as you earn kills. When it comes to story, Rockstar knows exactly what to do. Create a visual striking, violent, engaging story with gameplay that makes you feel like your part of the action. Playing Max Payne 3 feels like a summer blockbuster flick. I give Max Payne 3 an 9 out of 10.
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