Max Payne 3
A heavily driven story game that feels like a watching a movie, welcome to Rockstar’s vision of the Max Payne series.
A lost hero
The story takes place a decade after the deaths of his family and sees Max still drowning his sorrows in alcohol and painkillers. He’s no longer in law enforcement but now works in private security in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in which his main focus is looking after a rich family. What should have been a simple enough job turns into the mission from hell and of course that’s when we get to be Max.
The game is split onto two discs. The campaign is spread over the two with the multiplayer sharing one of them. The story is divided into three acts and is probably around 15 hours long during which Max is often providing dialogue to what’s going on or the reasons behind a certain event. There are collectibles in the form of clues and Max will certainly share some insight on the items as they’re found. During the game there are also chapters dedicated to showing some backstory and one thing I enjoyed was how scenes from one event could flow so effortlessly into different one.
One bullet, or two…
The graphics in the game are definitely Rockstar’s best work to date. The character’s facial expressions are clear and the lip syncing is spot on. I loved the attention to detail –liquid swirling in a glass a character is holding as they move their hand, a swaying light in the wind, a shot piercing through an object in a precise manner – it just adds so much to the world.
A feature I wasn’t that mad about was the slow motion that occurred when you were down to the last enemy in the room. Although a good indicator of that fact, for me it felt disruptive to the gameplay. Graphically though, to see a slow motion shot of a body being riddled with bullets as you dictate the amount is quite frankly, awesome!
One aspect I simply loved was how the enemies reacted to being shot. Shoot them in the leg; they will limp away or fall down briefly. Shoot them in the chest; they will fall down holding their wounds before they die. A headshot of course is a straight one shot kill but the really nice thing is if an enemy falls on a sloped surface their body will continue to go down the slope until it flattens out.
Watch your step
Gone is the sandbox style of former Rockstar games to make way for a linear experience. In a game like this which focuses so much on story, I think it was of benefit. In changing the style of the game there is now a cover system to assist Max in his battles. I thought the AI was quite refreshing in that they don’t just stay back and shoot. They move around to different cover and some are brave and coming charging right at you. A nice beat down feature quickly ends the threat. Max can hold three guns; one primary (like an assault rifle) and two secondary (like a pistol). He can also dual wield the two secondary guns.
The gameplay is quite realistic in many ways. Max isn’t a young guy anymore and this is evident in his movement. He’s slow at running and to get into cover – a nice touch, but not so much when it’s the difference between staying alive and having to restart a checkpoint. There is no regenerative health in this game. Rockstar continue their old school trend of requiring you to find health packs – in this case, painkillers.
Another gameplay aspect is called Bullet Time. You fill your Bullet Time meter by killing enemies. When available, clicking RS will activate it and slow down time which is incredibly handy when in a deadly situation…well Max is always in those situations, but for the ones that are that much more risky than others, it works . The other “cool” way to activate Bullet Time is by entering Shootdodge. This will cause Max to take a horizontal dive to the ground in slow motion. There are drawbacks to this of course if you’re near an obstacle or land away from cover. The former will cause Max to react in a brace for impact sort of way and the latter will leave him lying prone and exposed to bullet fire.
Two can play that game
There are several modes to choose from ranging from the standard deathmatch to objective style modes when playing online. Bullet Time and Shootdodge are incorporated into multiplayer but on a lesser scale and work fairly well. One thing I didn’t like was how some of the modes were locked out until you complete some objectives, ranging from total amount of kills to cash earned. During a match there can be a few remarks from Max about the situation which is a nice touch.
One big feature introduced is the notion of Crews which is like joining a clan of up to 300 people. Rival Crews can be set and gamers are rewarded for being in a Crew and taking on gangs by being given additional experience. All stats can be tracked on the Rockstar Social Club.
I very much enjoyed this game particularly for the single player. It’s quite evident how much care and attention went into the story. I always believe this is where Rockstar shines and they certainly are keeping a fantastic record. My main gripe (only a little) would be with the controls in terms of the movements feeling stiff at times but again as noted, I believe this was due to the realism aspect. I found this to be improved in the multiplayer. Nevertheless, Max Payne 3 is definitely a game to be added to the collection.