Almost 12 years since the original PC game was released, Max Payne is back in action with the self-titled Max Payne 3. The release of this game wasn’t an easy one, after being announced back in 2009 the game has continuously been pushed back in its release.
Max Payne has now moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil and is working private security for a wealthy family. The main set up is rather simple with one of the family members’ wife being kidnapped, but the tone and atmosphere are what set this game apart.
SAME OLD MAX
Grief- The previous games were all about the thought of revenge. The idea of Max being so disjointed from society after the loss of his family, and how he can’t manage his life was the big theme. MP3 is no different. Max continues to struggle with his loss, as we see intercuts of pill popping and mass alcohol consumption coming in between scenes, only to have him pass out in his ramshackle apartment. The game conveys his misery in a way other games try to attempt. Almost nothing is said about his family, we are only able to see on his face and through his actions the pain (no pun intended) that he is suffering. That brings me to my next point.
Superb Graphics and Atmosphere - In MP3 the ladders go hand in hand. The way the game conveys Max’s feeling by having a glossy and choppy effect is unbelievable. Other games look more realistic, but others aren’t able to ring up emotion quite like this. That brings me to the game’s atmosphere, which is near perfect. It starts with the opening: a cocktail party is taking place on top of a skyscraper while the slums are not far off in the distance. Just from this opening scene you can feel the conflict of the rich versus the poor. This conflict continues and you feel it as you escort a wannabe playboy son through a nightclub or even when you drop off a bag of money at a soccer stadium. Also, new to the series is the inclusion of a final kill cam. When one enemy is left, the camera will slow down and follow the final bullet into the enemy’s head, allowing for some awesome, and totally M-Rated views.
Good Ol’ Bullet Time - The epitome of the Max Payne series as a whole is undoubtedly Bullet Time. For those that don’t know, bullet time is when the time around Max slows down making him capable of pulling off ridiculous moves and shots. Other games have used bullet time since (like Stranglehold) and have failed to garner the same perfection as the Max Payne games have. It’s still the same but with a few tweaks. Gone is the awkward diving head first into walls; now Max reacts and his body turns and glides off the surface, giving a much more realistic look. Also added are mini cut scene bullet time moments. These moments are similar to the likening’s of Uncharted, were the player is given just enough control to get enjoyment out pulling off insane maneuvers.
Physics - This is one of the sweet new additions to MP3. Now when bullets hit enemies, they react realistically. For instance, a bullet to the leg will knock away their knee, and a shotgun to the body will force them backwards. Just the feel of power that comes when these shots are pulled off is magnificent. It really demonstrates the new tech that has become available to game companies since the earlier MP games and offers a glimpse at what we can expect in the future.
Multiplayer is More Than a Simple Add-On - My, oh my, was I angry when multiplayer was announced for MP3. To me, it seemed like a quick last minute afterthought that is now slapped onto games simply because stuff like Call of Duty sells well. To my surprise, it wasn’t half bad and it definitely was not an afterthought. A multitude of interesting modes, such as Gang Wars, allow for a particularly fun time. The games are chaotic at best and allow for some pretty sweet action moments. Although it won’t pull any one completely away from the single player, it will tack on a few extra hours to this 10-12 hour game.
PAINKILLERS DON'T FIX EVERYTHING
The Plot feels Too Basic - As I said earlier, the plot is simply that one of the wives of a wealthy family is kidnapped. Of course it goes more in depth than that but not much more, because you don’t care much. The game makes us care for Max, but not the people he’s protecting. This protracted care is taken back when we are forced to empathize with these rich wealthy people. It didn’t work quite the way it was planned because you can see spots of side characters arcs but sadly they are underdeveloped.
Years Have Brought Fatigue Onto the Gameplay- Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of diving through the air and blasting the heads off three henchmen with my shotgun. Unfortunately, that only gets you so far. The gameplay is near perfect for what it is, but there just isn’t enough variety. Each room is basically the same with Max walking in, enemies taking cover, and Max diving away in slow motion, firing away. Even with the constant, and beautiful inter cuts, the gameplay just becomes too repetitive.
Enemy A.I. - Run, cover, shoot, run, cover, shoot. This occurs repeatedly. The enemies have little brain and will run to cover just inches away from Max. The enemy AI does not actually position them away from Max’s bullets. Although it's fun to take out enemy after enemy, it becomes annoying to not be challenged and be forced to change tactics. This really takes away from the overall realistic vibe of the game.
Even though it’s been a while and its gameplay has become slightly stale, Max Payne 3 is still a stellar game that any action fan can enjoy. I loved the originals and finally being able to control Max again was one of the best moments in my video gaming career. Sure, there are problems with the weak story and dumb A.I but DAMN is this game tons of fun.
- Ryan Croft