Max Payne 3 review
In some ways Max Payne 3 for Xbox 360 and PS3 is your classic tale of a hero that saves the girl. However, this being Max Payne, things are never so straightforward. In Max Payne 3 Rockstar Games has done it again to deliver a game stuffed to the brim with action, excitement and atmosphere. Max Payne is well and truly back, Stephen Ebert discovers.
It’s been nine long years since we last hung out with Max. And the years have not been kind. In the least glorious of reunions we reconvene with Max at rock-bottom. Popping pills and swilling booze. Max Payne 3 may just be one of the darkest stories ever told by Rockstar Games. And that’s saying something.
With nothing to do but sit alone and drink himself to an early grave (because bullets couldn’t do it) opportunity arises for Max to take a dangerous, but lucrative job abroad working as a bodyguard. Things soon go from bad to worse. Much worse, when the girl (Fabiana) is kidnapped by gangs.
What follows is a third outing that combines all the faithfully recreated bullet-time dodge gameplay of yesteryear on a bigger budget and scale, in one of the years more entertaining games for both Max Payne fans, and those that just love shooting stuff up.
The fear going into Max Payne 3 was that Rockstar Games had never made a third-person action game before. Such worries were soon allayed. Max Payne 3 is as faithful to the series classic gameplay as possible, sprinkled with modern touches such as the perfectly functioning cover system, giving players the option to play it tactically behind whatever makeshift shield Max Payne finds himself behind. Original Max Payne voiceover man James McCaffrey also returns to deliver an effortlessly masterful performance as the gruff-voiced mercenary.
Shoot and aim controls are placed on the shoulder buttons, with the right analog stick used to trigger the famous slow motion bullet time, and square (PS3) and X (Xbox 360) buttons used to hide behind cover. It’s a default system that works perfectly and naturally. With sometimes dozens of enemies to contend with on screen at any one time Rockstar Games has equipped players with the tools to transform players into masterful bullet dodgers.
A bigger budget also means a much bigger scale. The settings, the soundtrack, the cinematic sequences: everything about Max Payne 3 oozes style. No longer is the narrative told behind comic-style strips. Instead cutscenes flow effortlessly from one scene to the next. The transitions are seamless, creating an adventure that rides smoothly along. With Max always in the thick if it, Rockstar Games’ production values constantly reflect that. Max never pauses for a breather, and neither will you.
And not forgetting the multiplayer modes. The good news is multiplayer feels far from tacked on, in a mode that feels as close as possible in look and feel. Modes such as Gang Wars add variety on top of the usual deathmatch. And the levels son’t lack any of the scale found in the campaign. Each has nooks and crannies from which to aim and shoot from, take cover, and ledges to glide from like a dual pistol-wielding flying squirrel of doom.
Max Payne 3 has its moments, but unfortunately you’ll get to see some of them too often. Play Max Payne 3 how you think it’s supposed to be played, going in gung-ho, all guns blazing is only asking for death, and a restart at the nearest checkpoint. It means that for the most part Max Payne 3 feels more like a cover-shooter than the all-out action gunner many will have hoped for. That said, Max Payne 3 is a game for fans of the series, and those that enjoy this type of game. Enjoy it for what it is, and you’ll still have a blast.
The bottom line
For both Max Payne fans and fans of the genre, Max Payne 3 is an explosion of raw action, energy and suspense, sure to bring unbridled joy to fans of the series and shooter fans alike. Rockstar Games knows its audience, and it shows.