Review: Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC)

By now, everyone should know that the people over at Rockstar Games always create mind-blowing games: the Grand Theft Auto Series, Red Dead Redemption, to name a couple.

Max Payne 3 is no exception.

Before we begin, lets take it back and have a quick insight into the first two games.

The Story so far:

The first installment of the Max Payne series saw NYPD officer – Max – return home from his job one night to find his wife and newborn daughter brutally murdered by three junkies (all under the influence of a new super drug, Valkyr). The murder of his beloved family is an event that troubles and haunts Max through all of the three games (and why wouldn’t it). Looking back, this very first scene was genuinely haunting and certainly set the mournful noir tone throughout.

Max then puts himself in for a transfer to join the DEA (that he earlier refused – due to wanting to spend more time with his family) and then sets out to put a stop to the people behind the drug Valkyr, and more importantly, the people behind his family’s death. Some time later, Max is then sent as an undercover agent into the Punchinello Mafia Family (with Don Punchinello being one the key players in the Valkyr business) to put a close on the drug. Without giving away too much of the dark and exciting storyline, thousands of shotgun shells and bullet casings later, Max walks away after his 3 day, ”justice will be served”, rampage and knows that a mysterious gentleman, named Alfred Woden (part of the ”Inner circle” – who has good connections with the highest levels of government and society), will clear his charges when he faces the judicial system.

The second game begins where the first one ended and sees Max taken to hospital for his injuries, he then appears in court charged with multiple homicides. Woden sticks to his word and ensures all of Payne’s charges are cleared at his request. Max then decides to quit the DEA and returns to his role as a NYPD officer who, 2 years later, investigates a gang of contract killers going by the name of ”the cleaners”.

The cleaners are contracted by a character Max met in the first game called Vlad – Vlad uses ”the cleaners” to kill of any competition that might affect his business. Later Max finds out that Vlad wants to kill Woden so he can lead the secret organisation called the Inner Circle. Throughout the game Max has flashbacks of the brutal attack on his family in the first game, and finds himself bullet dodging and blowing away yet another shower of thugs. I wont spoil the ending of this game (there are actually two endings) but all I will say is, the first ending you will see takes Max back on a trip to the day when his family was brutally murdered. I shall say no more. The second ending can be unlocked by playing through the game a second time on a harder difficulty.

Max Payne 3

”Thanks, but no thanks, I just had a shave this morning”

If you thought Max’s life could not possibly get any worse…then you would be dead wrong ! Oh yes, in Max Payne 3, things go from bad to absolute rock bottom for the guy.

I don’t know why but there’s something about Max’s character that reminds me of John McClane from the Die Hard movies.

Both characters seem to always have a bad day and both, funnily enough, are no strangers to hangovers, they’re both cops, and they love killing bad guys. So they certainly have a lot in common. Although Max has a somewhat dry sense of humor, I’ve always loved his cryptic and metaphoric ways of describing the situations he’s in.

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 – Max Payne

Anyway, Max Payne 3 sees the hardened cop fly almost 5000 miles to Sao Paulo in Brazil working as a bodyguard for a very rich and wealthy industrialist. Although 5000 miles away from home, Max is, well, lets just say he’s still the Max we have always known (which is a good thing), constantly drinking/smoking/popping painkillers and running about gun crazy with some superior firepower. The story is well written and I was hooked from the very first chapter, I kept wanting to progress to see how things panned out. Along the way there are a range of grinds to do (i.e get so many kills with each weapon, kill ‘x’ amount of bad guys using bullet-time etc etc) and there are a range of ”clues” and ”golden gun” parts to find throughout each chapter. The golden guns can then be used both in single player and in the online multiplayer.

Sao Paulo is like Baghdad with G-strings – Max Payne

The first thing I noticed about Max Payne 3 was the lush visuals (PC looks even better depending on which graphics card you have). The slums of Brazil were very convincing indeed – not just visually but also the atmosphere Rockstar created. Walking around you see kids playing football, worried on-lookers closing the shutters on their windows and gang members patrolling the rooftops with AK47’s and RPG’s. The other levels that were set in dockyards, bus depots, police stations and office buildings were also very nicely modelled and the destruction you could do in each one of them was very exciting. Jumping through windows/off ledges, tearing up whole office departments and police stations – whilst taking down criminals – with a grenade launcher or shotgun will bring a smile to anyone’s face very easily.

The atmosphere and environments in Max Payne 3 are awesome

The shooting mechanics and body physics were improved upon from the previous games as well; run one way whilst shooting then change direction quickly and you can see the weight shift of Max’s body happening as he sprints to the right then quickly to the left. Very realistic. The way enemies reacted to being shot was also pleasing to the eye, each piercing bullet causes the body to react to it in different ways. Shoot a guy in the leg and he will hit the ground, spraying him with 100 bullets will see them move from side to side, twist turn, backwards roll as the bullets riddle his body.

”Payne to the Max”

Bullet time and shoot-dodge – seen in previous Max Payne games – give the player time to execute the perfect combo of kills as time slows down. This could mean slow-mo diving out a window, popping 3 guys in the face with your weapon of choice as your flying through the air and then shooting a couple of gas tanks to finish the last of them off. The possibilities are endless.

This brings me onto my favourite and one of the new features to the Max Payne franchise, kill cam. Kill cam creates a very cinematic, and lets just be honest, very brutal and violent camera view of any key kills you get. For example you might take a bullet that almost kills you, the camera then slows and you have a certain amount of time to take the guy down that’s almost about to kill you. Once you take that shot, the kill cam starts and you see the bullet(s) leaving your weapon in super slow motion and piercing the enemies body. You can hold the ”shoot” button for as long as you want and see the 50 bullets pierce and shred your opponent to pancakes until he hits the floor in a pool of his own poisonous blood. Although very violent, it is very entertaining, action packed and a joy to watch.

Kill Cam Montage courtesy of ”drdrillvga”

Other new features in Max Payne 3 are: being able to take cover below windows, behinds walls, corners, vehicles and the like. This comes in real handy when there are very intense firefights and also whilst playing on the more difficult game settings. The other new feature is, of course, online multiplayer. My initial plan was to go through the story mode first then jump onto multiplayer, but this plan was soon burned when I got instantly hooked on the multiplayer.

Scores would be settled

If your just starting off in multiplayer, stick to the soft-aim rooms to begin with, then move into the free-aim rooms. Soft-aim means the computer will automatically lock your cross-hair onto the enemy for you (if they are in sight) then you make small alterations with the right stick to line up the kill. Free aim on the other hand is the opposite, you do all the aiming yourself and need good eye-to-hand coordination. Personally I prefer free-aim mode as it allows me to shoot wherever and whoever I want and my cross-hair doesn’t lock onto an enemy that I am not trying to kill. Again if your playing your first online game, give soft-aim a try to get your 100 quick kills (this opens up other game modes) then go into free-aim afterwards.

I don’t know about angels, but it’s fear that gives men wings

There are a variety of online game modes, fully customisable characters and load-outs that will keep you going for a long time. Weapons are unlocked as you rank up and once you get to level 50 you can cross over into legend mode – similar to Call of Duty’s prestige mode. You can also join or create your own online crew and play against other crews in deadly matches. My favourite has to be gang wars – Max Payne narrates a brief story between the two sides (crews) to begin with and you play through 5 different game modes (plant/defuse the bomb, straight up deathmatch etc) and the team who wins the most games at the end of the 5 rounds takes the win.

Multiplayer introduction and gameplay video courtesy of RockstarGamesGB

Overall Max Payne is an excellent game, with superb visuals, gameplay mechanics and has great replay value. All this, mixed with a highly satisfying story mode (10+ hours), arcade mode and full online multiplayer – this title will definitely please any die-hard Max Payne fan or any newcomer to the franchise. Rockstar Games have done a sweet job and Max has definitely settled every score here.

Now, shave that head, pull out your cigarettes, whiskey and dodgy Hawaiian shirt – pick up the controller and experience this masterpiece for yourself.

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About smellslikevictory

BEng (Hons) graduate in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Enjoy travelling, working out and all things techy

Posted on September 5, 2012, in PC, Playstation 3 / PSP, Uncategorized, Xbox 360 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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