Everyone knows what it’s like to have a close friend be away for years at a time. When their gone you may not think much about them at first, but as their name comes up you find yourself wondering how they’re doing and when they’ll be coming back. And when they do you hope they’re doing well. I got the same feeling when it came to Max Payne 3.
Gone for years, Payne’s back doing better than ever. Well, as far as the game goes. As for the character himself, he couldn’t be in worse shape. The very first scene shows how deep into the painkiller and alcohol addiction hole Max has dug himself into. The screen flickers with intense photo sensitive flashes. While annoying at first the flashes seem reflect Max’s new hazy mindset which immerses you into his story even more.
It’s been awhile since an action game has drawn me in this much with its story. It isn’t a perfect gem but it still glistens beautifully in the light. The story is engaging enough on its own. It’s been years since the events of Max Payne 2 and since Max has become washed up. A friend of his Raul Passos visits him in Hoboken and offers him a security job protecting a rather a rich family called the Brancos. Things go from bad to worse when the head of the family, Rodrigo, has his wife kidnapped by a group of Brazilian gang members. And like every other Max Payne story bombshells are dropped and you don’t realize how obvious it is until the last minute, much like how Max usually finds out.
Max has gotten pretty grim, but has managed to develop a bit more humor to his inner monologue. His biting comments at simple observations and clues in the environment add a dash of comedy to a rather dark story.
The game delivers non-stop action from the moment it starts and refuses to slow down. The shooting is surprisingly fluid along with the use of bullet time. This creates intense action pieces even without the help of cinematic moments and cutscenes. The over the top cinematic moments make bullet time even more entertaining. In the very first level you’ll find yourself riding down a roof top to save a woman from her captor in full bullet time slow motion with a satisfying finish.
You’ll also receive the similar camera effects when killing the final enemy in the room. Pressing your action button will cause the camera to slow down while your trigger button can be pulled to unleash more shots into the thug before he hits the ground.
The newly implemented mechanics like cover and over the shoulder zoom are useful, but only so much. Enemies will push you out of cover and firing with the over shoulder zoom will slow you down. The game still wants you to use good old fashion Max Payne run-and-gun tactics to win your firefights.
Health is still controlled through the use of painkillers. That’s right no rechargeable health. There is a last stand similar to many other shooters, however this once again can only happen if you have painkillers in your inventory. Expect a challenge from this game if you’re a fan of playing on high difficulties. Exploration is also rewarded by collecting parts of golden versions of the games weapons. They merely offer more damage, but it’s still fun to find them implement against the fools trying to stop you.
The city of Sao Paulo looks gorgeous from its high scale clubs and hotels, to its run down, poor flavellas. Neon lights bring a kaleidoscope of colors to the clubs while the flavellas are riddled with trash and degrading infrastructure. The city population is vibrant enough, but that doesn’t matter once shots are fired off and people clear the area.
Animations are fluid and realistic. Rockstar’s Euphoria and Natural Motion engine have been tweaked to offer those glorious kill shots as enemies are dragged by the bullets force. Surface destruction is pretty intense as glass and wood break up realistically. Smaller object have more of a puff quality to it and disappear in a less glorious fashion
The game features a multiplayer that’s very reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto multiplayer. I haven’t had a chance to play it as I don’t have access to a gold membership at the moment, but for the most part it features your typical multiplayer modes with a few that offer a Max Payne twist.
The only problems I ran into with the game were a few occasional collision problems while firing behind cover. This often ended in some cheap kills I couldn’t stop. Also since it is more tailored towards console gaming now there is no longer a quick save function and with some poorly placed checkpoints it’s a pain (no pun intended) to work your way back through an entire area. But these pale compare to the all of the things the game does right.
It’s been 8 years and after all this time Max Payne has aged beautifully. The gameplay and the graphics are brought into next generation gaming guns a blazing. And even though he’s down in the dumps he still knows how to duel wield a pair of 9mm pistols. Seriously, it’s good to have you back Max.