It’s been a long time since we got to pop pills as we side jumped in slow motion through the air firing two guns at hundreds of henchmen who are trying to take you out. There’s nothing to worry about now because Rockstar has heard our calls and finally brought us the third installment to the Max Payne franchise where we return to the life of Max Payne. Max Payne 3 feels like all of the great Hollywood action movies all rolled into one and the character of Max feels a lot like John McClane, just always in the right place at the wrong time and takes it upon himself to stop whatever wrong doings may be happening but he’s going to get shot a lot in the process.
It has been quite a few years since the events of Max Payne 2 and we come back to Max at the lowest point in his life. Highly addicted to all the pain killers he’s been taking for all these years and constantly trying to drown himself in alcohol He’s working private security in Sao Paulo Brazil, where Max doesn’t speak the language and with no subtitles the game makes sure you don’t either, with what you would call his only friend named Passo. They are protecting the rich Branco family and after multiple attempts on the oldest brother’s wife is kidnapped and it’s up to Max and Passo to get her back.
Most of the game takes place in Brazil as Max unravels mystery after mystery trying to track down the missing wife. However you do return to the States in a few flashback scenes that show just how Max has ended up in Brazil. This story is much more dark and realistic than the previous games and it takes itself super seriously and Max will constantly remind you just how low he has fallen.
The familiar graphic novel story device has been replaced with full motion cutscenes but there is still kind of a comic book feel to them. Words pop up on the screen for emphases and the screen will panel out to show multiple angles. This game isn’t as stylized as the last two and instead Rockstar has done a great job to modernize it with a more gritty film noir. Rockstar still manages to deliver the story very effectively and while you definitely see and feel similarities to the storytelling of Grand Theft Auto 4 and Red Dead Redemption, this still feels very much like the next chapter of the Max Payne story.
The gamplay of Max Payne 3 is incredibly gripping. When you are jumping in slow motion and shooting guys down you feel like you are playing the evolution of the Max Payne franchise. There is now a cover mechanic, which is new to the series but feels right in all of the situations you find yourself in. while you may think that just sitting behind cover may take away the fun of the slow motion you still have plenty of situations where the bullet time dive will save your life and you can also just trigger slow mo to pop out of cover for more effective shooting.
This time around Max can only carry three weapons, two side arms and rifle or shotgun. When you are using a two handed weapon Max will holster his smaller guns but when you take out a pistol max will hold the rifle down with one hand in the pistol in the other so you don’t have this awkward gun glued to the back look. However if you pull out two side arms Max will just drop the rifle in favor of a John Woo style gun handling. When Max takes a bullet time dive he will react to his environment appropriately and this realistic reaction adds to the style of the game but can be a little frustrating after you have slammed Max into a wall which causes him to stumble and get gunned down quickly. You have to make the dive work to your advantage as you can also keep lying on the ground after and keep pumping rounds into your enemies until you decide to make him stand up. There are three different aiming modes this time around, a free aim mode which has no lock on feature, a soft lock, and a hard lock. I played most of the game with the soft lock which works really well but a lot of the trophies are tied to free aim which makes the game a little more challenging for more experience players. One thing to help you out though is if you lose all your health while you still have pain killers you get this last stand mode where the game goes to bullet time and if you can kill the enemy that drained your health then you can come back instead of dying.
There is no denying that Rockstar has developed a brand over the years and Max Payne 3 seems to fit right in. With realistic animations and well designed environments Max Payne 3 is sure to impress. However I did experience some hiccups from time to time. Sometimes the animations will go a little crazy when bumping into walls or characters colliding but it didn’t happen very often. The worst I saw was during one of the cut scenes the audio was un-synchronized from the video but it only happened the one time. The game has extreme amounts of blood and gore when you are shooting your enemies and it looks so raw that you just can’t get enough of the action that Max Payne has to offer.
One thing that I wasn’t too sure I was going to like is that during the cut scenes you get this tripped out scratchy tape effect sometimes and while it has its purpose to show just how hopped up Max is throughout the game it seems a little like overkill and I was kind of hoping that there would be a way to turn it off but sadly there wasn’t, however I did get used to it and it never detached me from the dark and gritty story that was told in the game.
I could not put down Max Payne 3. The first two games are two of my favorite games of all time and Max Payne 3 delivers just what I have wanted for years. While it may have some of the tropes of a lot of other modern third person shooters there are no other games like Max Payne 3 on the market today. Games like Wet and Dead to Rights have tried to pull of the same kind of action but haven’t been able to meet the caliber of this franchise and Rockstar has delivered the on this third installment wonderfully. This installment also introduces the first multiplayer function of the franchise and it actually is a lot of fun and worth checking out. While this game is mostly a single player game and even if you never touch the multiplayer you still get your money’s worth but I have to recommend trying the online. I will probably continue to play the multiplayer for a while as it actually works the way it is supposed to and they managed to make the slow motion work while facing off against people online. You get all the game modes you would expect to see but the deathmatch modes are undeniably where the best action is at.
The single player is one of the best stories I have played in a while and you have the option of playing through it multiple times with chapter selects, time attack, and score attack modes. There are tons of collectibles to keep you wanting to play more because they can unlock some awesome features like infinite ammo or pain killers. I can never get enough of the gunfights in Max Payne and whenever you take down the last enemy you get this slow motion kill cam where you can just keep pumping rounds into the guy until he falls and it is just awesomely gory and satisfying. It never gets old watching your enemies get pumped full of enough lead to turn them into a pencil.
This game is almost unrivaled in its realistic third person action and does an amazing job of continuing the Max Payne fiction. With the return of the iconic voice over and nonstop action It’s nice to see Rockstar continuing to push the bounds of its franchises and Max Payne 3 is yet another example of this. With a lengthy campaign and a multiplayer full of leveling and unlocking Max Payne 3 is a title that will hold your attention for a while and show you one hell of a ride in the process. With only a few minor hiccups keeping it from being a perfect game, Max Payne 3 is unquestionably a must have.