After a long hiatus and a new development team Max Payne has finally made his return. Max Payne 3 sees an older Max Payne who has gone down to Sao Paulo, Brazil to protect a rich and influential family from kidnappers, thieves and the like. It was supposed to be an “easy” job however it turned out to be anything but that. It didn’t really take long until everything went to hell and Max found himself in the same type of situations that he was always in back in New York. He thought he had left that part of his life behind but it wasn’t meant to be.
Max Payne 3 is a story about corruption, greed and potential redemption. I loved how Rockstar utilized the narrative in this title with the cinematic sequences and key words being highlighted on the screen drawing your attention to the conversation. There was also this haze on the screen as things tended to seem blurry from time to time thanks to Max being perpetually drunk. As you progressed through the campaign it seemed like you would always get really close to achieving your goals, however, something always seemed to happen at the last minute to thwart your plans. In the beginning members of the Blanco family were kidnapped and you had to get them back as it was your responsibility to protect them in the first place. As you journey through Sao Paulo (and a few other locations) you quickly realize that the events taking place are much bigger than a mere kidnapping. Someone is making a power play and it is up to Max to figure out exactly what is going on and then to put an end to it. I don’t want to go much deeper into the story for fear of spoiling something however, as I said, I thought Rockstar did a pretty amazing job with keeping you engaged with the narrative throughout the campaign.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned it is typical Max Payne. For those unaware Max Payne is a third person shooter and in this particular title it is a third person cover shooter. You’ll have to utilize cover quite a bit in the game or you simply won’t survive. Unlike most modern titles Max Payne 3 is a bit old school in that there is no regenerating health. You have bottles of pain medication that are dispersed throughout the environment and you take those when Max is near death. There is also an interesting last man standing mechanic where if an enemy gets that final shot on you and you are about to be killed you will have a few seconds to retaliate and that shoot that enemy. Everything slows down at that moment and if you are successful in shooting him before you die (and you have a bottle of pain medication available) then you will get back up and continue on your way. If you don’t shoot him in time then you will be dead and have to restart at the last checkpoint. This mechanic saved me on a number of occasions as there were times where an enemy I didn’t even see initially had shot me and this allowed me to quickly retaliate and save myself. Of course it wouldn’t be a Max Payne title without Bullet Time and it has never been this much fun. There are definitely some scripted moments that make you feel like a bad ass where you are flying through the air and bullet time kicks in or you are on a cart racing down a hallway picking off enemy soldiers one by one. With that said you can control initiate Bullet Time whenever you want by hitting the button on the controller and diving forward or to the side. You have a variety of weapons at your disposal and you can always swap out weapons with soldiers that you have killed.
In addition to the single player campaign there is also the multiplayer where Rockstar introduced their new “Crews” feature. This new feature allows you to team up with your friends as you battle other crews online and develop rivalries. Other than fighting alongside your friends being a part of a crew has other perks such as receiving an XP boost whenever you fight as part of a crew or battle against rival Crews and their members online. What this essentially means is that if you play online with your crew you will unlock the better weapons and other items much more quickly than if you had gone through the multiplayer by yourself. You can customize your own Crew creating an original battle crest or crafting a unique emblem that will be shown on your soldier’s uniform during matches.
The multiplayer modes that are available to you range from the traditional to Rockstar’s own spin on things. There is of course the traditional team deathmatch modes, (rookie team deathmatch, rookie deathmatch, team deathmatch, large team deathmatch, large deathmatch) Payne Killer and Gang Wars. Payne Killer is a blend of both cooperative and competitive play. The game starts with a standoff and the first player to make a kill and the first player to get killed will become Max Payne and Raul Passos respectively. The two people controlling Max and Raul need to work together to kill as many gang members (i.e. the other players in the match) as they possibly can to earn points and stay alive. The other players have the mission of trying to take down Max and Raul. Any player that kills one of them will become them and they become one of the two players that others are trying to hunt down. Gang Wars was my personal favorite as it crafts its own small story for you to go through with friends. Gang Wars takes some key events from the campaign and uses them as starting points for matches with continually shifting objectives which is all linked by a shared story thread. There are five objectives in Gang Wars and the gang that wins the most objectives will win the match. Each objective forms part of a branching story that you will encounter. There are over ten potential objectives that you will be given such as Survivor (A Showdown style game mode but each team has limited lives), Takedown (Take down the designated target – and anyone who gets in your way), Delivery (Both gangs must compete to collect and deliver their team’s items to a single drop off point) and much more. I really enjoyed how the story would potentially change every time that I went through this mode.
In addition to the aforementioned modes there is also the Arcade mode. This is where you can go through missions from the campaign and you have to race against the clock to complete levels quickly while causing as much destruction as possible along the way. Score attack levels are unlocked by beating them in the single player story mode and New York Minute is unlocked after beating the game. Score attack is where you have to accumulate the highest score possible by getting certain types of kills. With New York Minute you have to kill enemies to add time to the clock. In this mode kills are worth three seconds while headshots will give you five seconds. Bullet Time will also slow down the timer and the timer will also pause during cut scenes and final kill cams. Essentially if you let the clock reach zero then you are killed. It adds more challenge to an already challenging title and fans should have a lot of fun with it.
Going through the game I really enjoyed myself for the most part. With that said there were a few things that would annoy me. There were a couple of instances where the game locked up on me. In my many hours spent with this game it only happened to me on two occasions, however, it seemed to happen at the most inopportune time and I felt it warranted a mention in this review. There were also times where I felt some enemies absorbed far too many bullets and I almost had to go through a full clip to eliminate them. You also need to pay close attention to your enemy as just because he is down doesn’t mean he is out. There were a few different instances where I unloaded my clip into a guy and thought he was dead, until he got back up and shot me instead. There were also times when cover didn’t seem to work as well as it should. Perhaps it was my fault but there were times when I thought I was safely behind cover and I would still get shot.
As you go through Max Payne 3 you can’t help but be impressed by Rockstar. The graphical fidelity in the title is really nice and some of the physics that you will see are spot on. Despite the complaints that I just mentioned (which tended to happen on rare occasions) the game ran really well. The audio was fantastic as it did a great job of setting the mood for whatever your current situation was and it helped to immerse you even more into the action. The ambient sounds were really nice from a dog barking in the distance to listening to the citizens as they fled a chaotic scene. Max Payne 3 sure took a while to arrive but it was worth the wait. Rockstar has delivered another solid title and fans should enjoy returning to Max’s world. I’m really interested to see how Max Payne 3 ties in with the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V as you can take your crews (and who knows what else) over to GTA V once it gets released. If you are a fan of third person cover shooters then you should definitely give Max Payne 3 a try. It is an entertaining and visceral journey through Sao Paulo and one I intend on experiencing again.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network