Review: Max Payne 3

Jul 4, 2012

The third installment of the Max Payne series is by far the best. Rockstar Games has once again proven they know how to deliver an engaging story right in the mix of battle. They’ve taken the noir feel of Max 1 & 2 and added a strong dose of realistic story arch peppered with characters you can’t help but have an opinion about. The story is a combination of the films Taken and Snatch. It’s both adventurous and dark, and it has a strong male protagonist who is surrounded by colorful characters that add to his humanism. There is also a Guy Ritchie feel to this game. If you’ve seen any of his films, you’ll recognize it right away. The color schemes, split screens, pacing of cinematic, etc. Max Payne 3 is a strong title that was sadly overlooked by the release of Diablo 3.

Fidelity: When you fire-up Max Payne 3, it may seem familiar. No, I’m not referring to the outstanding voice acting of leading-man James McCaffrey. Rather the graphics. Max is built on the RAGE engine, and while the game’s locals are very diverse, there is a certain “look” to the RAGE engine that should be noticeable to all who played RAGE. These locals are tremendous. The attention to detail is of the best quality and absolutely sucks you into the story. There is something to say about a good looking environment. It’s a whole different conversation when those environments actually mean something. You’ll experience everything from beautiful office buildings of a billionaire, to the run-down streets of Sau Paulo, Brazill where sex trafficking and drug use are part of everyday civilian life. Max himself goes through a transformation that is very cool. There are some flashback scenes you’ll play, and that helps you understand the protagonist quite well. And nothing sums up a game quite like the music in Max Payne 3. So fitting. So much like the film Drive.

Gameplay: This is where the game suffers. Slow-mo bullet-time is good, but you have to be careful when you use it and for how long. Sure, there is a meter that will run out if you’re not careful. More importantly, if you’re behind cover and hit bullet time, the marksmanship of the enemies is not horrible. They’ll hit you if you poke your head out for too long, even in bullet-time. The old Max games were fun to play at a fast pace. The same is not true for Max Payne 3. Instead, speed will likely land you a bullet in the head. Perhaps this can be expected of a man who has aged, gained considerable weight, and has hit rock-bottom in his drug and alcohol addiction. The game being difficult is not my gripe. The area in which Max needs improvement is the same thing we say about all Rockstar games: controls. The button assignments are fine and you’re offered several configurations – even “south-paw.” It’s the minor movement of the retacle that games like Call of Duty of mastered.

This is my kind of game. Lots of enemies to shoot, a few collectibles scattered around beautiful and varied environments with a strong lead who is very human. The story is better than what you’ll see on the big screen because you’re actually able to interact with the characters. Something gaming in general will only continue to benefit from over time. Don’t let the price tag interfere with your decision to purchase this game. I wish I bought it on day 1 instead of waiting for the Amazon Gold Box to nab it at $40. It’s easily worth 2,000 more pennies.