Nine years ago, Rockstar Games came out with their smash-hit Max Payne 2. Through a booze-infused adventure, Max Payne set out a course to battle his inner demons and find a way through life. Fast forward to 2012 and the third title in the series has hit store shelves straight to our grubby little hands. Since so much time has passed we wondered is Rockstar Vancouver had the goods to deliver the promises they teased to us over the years. Wonder no more, Shogunites, let’s jump right in to Brazil and see what we thought of the game.
Things We Thought Were Cool
Story and Presentation Make Everything
It’s years after the adventure of Max Payne 2 and our anti-hero has found himself in desperate times at the bottom of a bottle of whatever comes his way. Max Payne has made his way to Brazil as bodyguard for hire to rub shoulders with the richest of the country. All wine and roses right? Well if Rockstar has taught us one thing, it’s that nothing ever goes smoothly in the world of Max Payne. Some people play games for the pure action however, I play them solely for the story. The story of Max Payne 3 is worthy of something you would see in a major motion picture(Not the crappy movie with Marky Mark) and delivers on every single direction. Twists and turns in the plot engage the player and there were many moments where I found myself on the edge of my sofa. While some of the plot twists were telegraphed, even then I found myself with sweaty hands gripping the controller. Without going into too much detail on the story, Max Payne 3 made me actually feel a wide range of emotions through the entire game. Rockstar Vancouver’s writers delivered on the story and deserve some type of gold star plastered to their office walls or faces.
Tying into the story is the way the game is presented. When one looks at Max Payne all you can think to yourself is, “What a sad drunken man”. During almost every cut scene in the game, you feel like you are looking through the eyes of someone who has been drinking since 6am. Lines blur and images go out of focus during a lot of moments almost to the point of giving you the drunk spins. One would think this is distracting, but the developers really make it so the player feels more engaged in everything. Each part of the story you encounter is presented in a way that makes you feel like you are viewing through the eyes of the main character. I found myself getting lost in the plot a little bit and wondering if I needed to shave my face as I had been drinking for 6 weeks. From the beautiful landscapes of Brazil to the crime ridden Favela’s, Max Payne 3 makes you feel like you are there. I am not sure if there is a official label for the style offered but one would think that Rockstar has hit a home run again with the entire package.
You Want Guns? We Got Guns
Story aside, Max Payne 3 brings back the bulletime in a hard way. The action in the game is intense to the point where I thought I was going to have a stroke during certain encounters. Max Payne three is all about shooting people and you will get the chance to do it every step of the way. After the gorgeous cut scenes Max will find himself thrown right into the thick of battles with waves and waves of Brazilian bad guys coming at his face. One might think that the best thing to do would be to duck behind some cover and dodge out using some super slow-mo killing move. While that works in some situations, Max Payne 3’s bad guys will flank the hell out of you causing blood to spill out on the floor. There were several encounters where I thought I was safe behind cover, only to find that the enemy had blown it away with a shotgun and my brains were spilled on the floor. Speaking of brains, Max Payne 3 is not for the kids folks. Need some health to keep you in the fight? Max Payne 3 goes back to the medication system where you pop pills to regain health. There is hardly a huge supply of these and be careful when you take them. I found that if I popped some health in the middle of the fight, the screen goes a bit fuzzy. There is also a “Last Chance” mechanic built into the game as long as you have a bottle of pills in your inventory. When you are close to death you will pop into a slow-motion kill scene where it is you vs your closest bad guy. If you manage to kill that bad guy then you get to stay alive. Miss or run out of bullets? Yeah you are fish food buddy.
One of the more interesting features of the game is when you clear out a squad of bad guys, it takes you into a slow-mo killing spree on the final bad guy. Depending on where the bullet is placed, you may a head explode or bullets rip through a torso. While just there for fun, this allows the player to blow off some steam after a rough encounter by wasting all your bullets into the bad guys already lifeless body. The wounds are pretty damn realistic in an awkward faces of death kind of way, but I was pretty darn happy with the whole experience. Max Payne 3 offers tons of arsenal from pistols, to grenade launchers, and killer sniper rifles. Want a weapon that you don’t have? Trust me, it will be dropped by an enemy at some point for you to kill with.
Pure Filth Sound
Max Payne’s grimy underworld is not only seen but heard. From the reggaeton clubs of Rio to the danger filled streets of the local Favela, Max Payne 3’s sound team really hits a home run. The one thing I have always loved about Max Payne is being able to go into the mind of the madman. Max Payne 3 is all about the inner dialogue and you get plenty of it with every cut scene and moment in the game. The voice acting is top notch with an excellent returning cast. One of the things that I loved was that Rockstar sourced dialogue and characters directly from a studio in Brazil. This really brought home the flavor of the region and made the characters believable. Little things like Max talking about the medicine he just picked up or throwing out some words at the bad guys coming his way made the engagement factor go up to about a 12. Music has always been a huge part of Rockstar Games and Lazlow’s team really went at this one hard. The music is once again sourced for the region and completely made sense in every situation.
What We Thought Sucked
Damn You Camera!
Let me be blunt here, there is really not much that sucked in Max Payne 3. I am grasping at straws here and it is only a minor complaint. As with most third person games, I find myself hating the camera every single time. For the most part, the camera in Max Payne 3 is pretty spot on. There were a few occasions in very high stress environments that caused me to die though. When you have a game that relies on slow-motion diving you need to make sure that the camera is going to properly follow you. One scene in particular caused me to almost step away for a few minutes. It was a warming area of bad guys and I had to do a backwards bulletime dive to save my hide. As I did the dive the camera decided to swing around for no reason causing me to lose my place. I quickly ended up lying on the floor with my liver in my hands. A small complaint that caused one angry moment in an otherwise amazing game.
Max Payne 3 in my eyes is the single best game Rockstar has made to date. That’s a pretty high bar to set considering some of the amazing titles they have put out over the course of development. Shogunites, run and buy this game right now and I promise you that you just might shave your head to start looking like him.
Max Payne 3 ships with a multiplayer mode however, this review focuses solely on the single player game. Thanks to Rockstar Games for providing us with a review copy.