It is just about 11 years ago that Remedy Entertainment produced the first successful Max Payne game for Microsoft Windows. More than a decade later, Rockstar still won’t let us forget the name, with their latest title Max Payne 3, but is the game still worthy of its original title? In terms of violence, there’s no doubt Rockstar has done a good job. On the other hand, the game is un-doubtfully the most rewarding game in terms of story-telling and voice acting.
Story - 10/10
Following the horrible death of his wife and daughter, a self- pitied and frustrated Max Payne is in the midst of a real bad mid-life crisis. The only real activity in his life consists in helping himself to the grave with an overdoses of painkillers and brown liquor. In Rockstar’s latest title, things don’t tend to go much better for him as he surges to earn a respectable living profit in the service of a rich and self-important family at Sao Paulo in Brazil. The real story starts when his job as a security guard for the Broncos soon turns out to be the worst possible nightmare a man could ever have. Without going too far, the game leads to some very interesting plot twists towards the end, which results in some unexpecting changes.
“It was Monday afternoon and I’d already been thrown out of a party, been to a strip club and got into a bar fight. This latest mid-life crisis was certainly ticking all the boxes.”
What makes this game really stand out from the crowd is the quality in its story-telling. Whereas other games are really ground-breaking with their innovative gameplay, this game rather has its potential in a strong story line, capable of driving players through each and every mission. This made it a unique experience, Max Payne 3 sets the bar in what story-telling can be in video games. I daresay it’s the perfectly constructed mix between cinema and gaming. Cut scenes become absorbing instead of rudimentary. Places you visit become more meaningful. Characters are given personalities and emotions.
Yet, what intrigued me above anything is the main character max payne and his struggle to maintain any situation in hands, because very little are in his advantage. Instead of approaching things discreetly, our character has a bad habit of barging through doors and trashing the party. He is honestly terrible at keeping his presence unknown. Although I judged Max Payne for making dumb moves, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy. He really does not seem to be getting a lot of good fortune.
Max Payne’s many narratives which triggered at points in the missions made me want to slow down, look around me at the set and reflect upon what was being said. The melancholic, metaphoric and sarcastic language was a great way to slow down the pace of the game and indulge myself in the anger of the protagonist. The voice acting here is TOP quality.
“First day off the sauce and somehow I’d still ended up in the gutter.” - after being robbed by a gang of thugs.
Gameplay - 9/10
Apart from the story, Max Payne does it with good and enjoyable shooting mechanics. Even though Rockstar keeps the action quite simple it still is refined. I figure that if it’s not your anger that’s driving you to kill then it must be the realism in seeing how your bullets slowly rip your enemies’ bodies apart. The game is equipped with Bullet time, letting you shoot in slow motion and Shoot Dodge, which allows you to fire waves of bullets on your enemies while slowly diving through the air. These signature time-bending moves are easy to pick up and master but also fun to use. The game lets you carry two side-arms and a two-handed weapon. Things are straightforward, but work well in the process. If you reach the end of your health bar, yet still carry pills on you the game automatically gives you a final chance to kill whoever shot you last. If you touch him, your life is given back.
The cover system works okay, but the only problem remains in the time it takes to get back into cover once you’re up. Shoot dodging from a cover position does not always work which asks for some difficulties. Talk of difficulty, the game is quite spicy on normal difficulty, even when you have a soft aim lock to help you aim at enemies. Although the game saves regularly, you might end up miles back from where you were, which sometimes makes it frustrating. Some mind the lack of freedom in Max Payne, but I must admit that this is something that does not bother me that much. I haven’t been whimpering, and this mainly because the story was very engrossing.
Although entertaining, it must be said that Max Payne 3 is extremely violent and can be shocking at parts with torn off limbs, ragged bullet wounds and much blood. Apart from collecting golden gun parts and examining objects the game does not offer anything else from the shooting and killing, so if you’re looking for more this game will tire you rapidly. There is no climbing, nor puzzle-solving, but perhaps it would fit poorly with Payne’s character anyway. What it does offer are many different scenarios, involving shooting boats on canals, nailing cars with heavy machinery and sniping enemies in a football stadium. The game does not lack in areas either, going from the colorful favelas in Brazil to a grey and somber graveyard.
Presentation & Sound - 10/10
Without exceptional visuals this game can hardly be considered the same. Everything from how cut scenes are creatively put together, to how bullets shatter glass and destroy office walls looks impressive and beautiful. There is a strong color palette making environments stand out and shine. There is much detail put into the many places in Max Payne 3, making it evident that the art directory has spent lots of time in getting all the environments right. To keep it short, the presentation is equally and the sound in this game is perfect with compelling and thrilling tunes.
You can expect to be playing Max Payne 3 for 10-12 hours if not longer. The story is long enough, and once finished there is still enough fun to be had in the arcade mode and multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode is fun when playing with friends but is not very inviting for beginners, unless you do rookie team deathmatch. A difference in player experience makes the higher ranked players seem overpowered compared to the rookie. But do give it a try, because it turned out to be fun all the while.
Don’t be surprised if Rockstar’s latest installment in the max payne franchise comes like a smack in the face, or rather…a payne in the butt. Max Payne is back, and he’s all but friendly this time... With a driving story and a ridiculously strong narrative, Max Payne 3 returns in style and delivers a seriously rewarding experience. With a spectacular, engrossing adventure, spitting violence to make even Chuck Norris look like an amateur and strong story-telling Max Payne 3 is truly one of the best games this year. I recommend it to those who haven’t already picked up the game yet!
This game deserves a 9.5/10