Posted: January 30
Meet Max Payne, a washed-up NYPD detective who's biggest dilemma is deciding to be addicted to booze, pills or both. It's been almost 10 years since the traumatic events of the first two games and Max is just about all out of f*cks to give. That is until all of a sudden a golden opportunity presents itself to Max: playing bodyguard to a rich and famous family in Sao Paolo for easy cash. Yeah right, like anything in Max's miserable life has ever gone that well...GAMEPLAY AND DESIGN
On a purely functional level, Max Payne 3 is probably the greatest 3rd person shooter out there. The robust animation system is extremely versatile and allows Max to aim towards all 360 degrees around him regardless of if he is stood up, down on the dirt or anything in between. This may not sound impressive, but you really have to appreciate that you can do this and the animations for it all actually make sense and don't look dumb. You can opt to play it as a Matrix rip off, a cover based shooter or a bit of both. The game has amazing player feedback and ballistics tracking making every shot you fire and bullet you dodge feel really satisfying. The health system works a lot like previous games so there is no regenerating health. You're injured until you find some painkillers, which are usually accompanied with a snide comment from Max ("always in moderation"). You can have two one handed weapons (pistols, submachine guns, sawn-off shotty) in each holster, and a two handed weapon (rifles, pump action shotties). Unlike previous games where you can somehow fit an entire arsenal in your leather jacket, you can now only have as many weapons as functionaly viable and it affects the gameplay. For example, Max can be using an assualt rife and then switch to a pistol he had holstered in one hand at which point the rifle is then held in the other hand but can't be used until he holsters his pistol again. The aim behaves differently when using the pistol in this fashion, as added weight of holding an assualt rifle in your other hand drags your aim around a little bit. If you are doing the signature dual wielding uzis then you can't have a two handed weapon also until you put at least one of them away. Each gun behaves in it's own unique way with it's own recoil, damage and so on. Max Payne's signature super human abilities to slow down time and dive on the floor an infinite amount of times with no injury also makes an extremely welcome return. It behaves simililarly to previous games where you have a meter that represents how much time you have left to slow which steadily replenishes over time when not in use. In this game however, the bullet-cam that triggers when you kill the last enemy of a section is more frequent and allows a little more control of the camera to the player (similar to slowing down time in GTA stunt jumps, but with guns murdering people). There are a lot of difficulty options available, with more unlocking when you finish the game and you can also choose how hard it is to aim. You can hard lock-on like a scrub, which instantly brings the reticule directly to an enemy when you aim; soft lock-on which is sort of the same but not as easy and free aim, which is honestly the way the game is meant to be played, especially on mouse and keyboard.
The game is designed as a linear corridor third person shooter. As mentioned before, this iteration introduces a cover mechanic not present before, which can be nice for the more conservative player that likes to pick their shots. The game also likes to throw some scripted bullet-time moments at you which encourage you to pick off as many enemies as possible for the duration of the event. It's sort of like a QTE, but with more control and well... fun. The levels are designed carefully and fairly and if you die, it rarely feels "cheap". However, you should keep your eye out for hidden side paths, crevices and alcoves that may reward you with weapons, painkillers, clues (story based collectibles that give you little tidbits of info) and golden gun parts (which do pretty much as the name suggests).STORY AND NARRATIVE
Where there is Max Payne, there is usually cynicism, misery, regret and self-pity all usually illustrated to you with nice gruff voice over by the amazing James McCaffrey. This title has done away with the graphic novel style of the previous two games and has gone for all out fully voiced and mo-capped cutscenes that make you question if your playing a game or watching a movie. Rockstar are once again proving they are the kings of Hollywood Blockbuster story-telling in video games. Now some people have had some qualms with the way the story is presented in Max Payne 3. The first and foremost issue, is the fact that the game has this sort of blurry, colourful and sickness and/or epilepsy inducing filter that likes to pop up more than few times. I'm gonna be pretentious here and defend it as an artistic storytelling technique because I am that kind of snobby ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. When you think about it, Max is constantly drunk, usually with a helping of some pills and we, the players, are seeing the world from Max's point of view and I don't think I need to tell you what that point of view might look like. However, despite the loss of graphic novels, we have not lost Max's positive outlook on the world and just life in general. All the smarmy one liners and wise cracks, despressing thoughts, mind-wandering monologues and the general all round tone remains the same.
Another issue that people have had with the game is a quite big one for some people. So big, that I've had to start another paragraph. A lot of the time, in the middle of gameplay the game just relieves you of control to deliver you a cutscene. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does admittedly happen A LOT. The cutscenes themselves flow seamlessly with the game itself, with no loading, but they occur just a little bit too frequently for the liking of some people. Now if your going through the game for the first time and your want all that glorious story, chances are it won't bother you much. But, say your going through the 2nd or 3rd time for collectibles or difficulty or whatever. Then it can get a bit annoying. It may sound annoying as you read this, but the story is so effing good, that you will eventually be begging the game for more cutscenes for just a little bit more of it.
Game takes place in Sao Paolo, Max is a private bodyguard instead of a cop this time. That's all your getting out of me. Now go play the game.GRAPHICS, PERFORMANCE AND PC PORT
Now, Rockstar haven't been the kindest developers to PC gamers *cough*socialclubdrmsh*tgtaivterribleport*cough*, but this time they've brought their A-game. For me (and many others from what I hear) the game ran a constant 60fps with most settings maxed and probably would have gone higher if my monitor allowed it to. This is on a 2GB GTX 770 with an i5 4670k with both at stock speed. If this is what is in store for us PC gamers when GTAV finally comes around, then we will be in for a treat.
The game looks beautiful too. The environments are varied and the attention to detail is just mind boggling. I genuinely spent about 10 minutes in this game just shooting at glass just to see how amazing it looked when it cracked, shattered and rained down. The animations are all incredibly well done. Fire looks good. Water looks good. Murder looks good. Lighting looks good. Everything about this game looks good and runs well. There really isn't much more I can tell you than that. Controls are also top notch, fully re-bindable keys, controls comfortable and all that good stuff.VERDICT
Max Payne 3 is one of the best third person shooters money can buy today.